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NBC's 'Today' show to weigh in on Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone's phone flap

July 20, 2010 |  6:15 pm

Viacom and CBS Chairman Sumner Redstone's voice mail message to Daily Beast reporter Peter Lauria trying to persuade him to give up a source is now fodder for the morning shows.

REDSTONE NBC's "Today," the top-rated morning news program, is having Lauria on Wednesday morning to discuss his story about the Redstone message, which became fodder for jokes around the media industry Tuesday. Lauria says Fox's "Good Day New York" is also having him on.

Here's the back story: The 87-year-old Redstone is apparently still smarting over a piece Lauria had done several weeks ago about the mogul's apparent interest in a young girls band called the Electric Barbarellas. In that story, Lauria said Redstone was pushing Viacom's MTV to make a reality show about the band.

In the message to Lauria, Redstone says he needs to find out who leaked the story, which he claims wasn't true.

"We're not going to kill him, we just want to talk to him," Redstone can be heard saying on the message. Although Redstone said the story was false, he also went out of his way to praise the television project in question. He told Lauria that the show runner involved in the Electric Barbarellas product said it was "the best show he's seen in 10 years." 

Though this might seem like a little bit of inside baseball for the typical "Today" viewer, it's not every day that a major executive calls a reporter and tries to get him to give up a source. Well, that may happen every day, but most probably don't leave evidence in the form of a message on voice mail like Redstone did.

No word on whether ABC's "Good Morning America" will also weigh in on the Redstone - Lauria battle. It seems to safe to say that CBS' "Early Show" will sit this one out.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times.

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