Sumner Redstone receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
Just outside the doors to stately Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where the first Oscar ceremony was held, Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. Chairman Sumner Redstone was indelibly etched in entertainment history on Friday when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The aging mogul's family members, a coterie of some of Hollywood's most powerful executives, and nearly 200 star-gazers were on hand to witness the tribute.
Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman compared Redstone to Adolph Zukor, the visionary New York nickelodeon owner who became one of the first people to make big money in the movie business. It was Zukor who founded Paramount Pictures 100 years ago.
Redstone now controls the famed Paramount film studio, among such other assets as CBS television, MTV, BET, Comedy Central and children's channel Nickelodeon.
"Sumner -- the King of Content -- is without a doubt an elemental force of nature, and I can personally attest to that," Dauman said. He noted that Redstone's gold-rimmed star was appropriately located next to that of another lion of entertainment, the late former president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, Jack Valenti.
"Sumner, like you, your star will be around for a long, long, long, long time," Dauman said.
The 88-year-old Redstone, sitting next to the podium on a red-carpeted stage, half-heartedly shrugged.
One of the country's richest men, Redstone began his career as a lawyer and then ran his father's regional theater chain before going on to assemble one of the biggest media empires in the world. On Friday, he seemed to be reflecting on the totality of his life, and the fragile nature of success.
"From my tenement in which I lived as a child, built on a cobblestone, dirty street in the west end of Boston, I am now successful. But I must tell you, though, that my global businesses at Viacom and CBS at times have been in peril," Redstone said. "But now I find myself on this wonderful event on the sidewalks of New York with this star. I must tell you the trip, the journey, from living in that tenement to this marvelous event was torturous, hard, sometimes it was difficult, but it was always exciting and always rewarding. I want to thank everyone for this star, thank you for this honor and for your presence."
Redstone then glanced over to where his family was seated -- his daughter Shari Redstone, her three children, and a grandchild. "I want you know that it means a great deal to me that they are here to share this day and this event with me," he said.
Redstone was in Hollywood, not New York, and at times he was a little unsteady on his feet. He has been slowing down in recent years as mobility has become an issue. He lives above Beverly Hills, though he is the controlling chairman of two New York-based media companies. His companies have created popular movies, including "Forrest Gump" and "Mission: Impossible," and own TV networks that boast such well-known programs as “60 Minutes,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Dora the Explorer” and “Jersey Shore.”
Also in attendance were Leslie Moonves, chief executive of CBS; his wife, TV personality Julie Chen; Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey, Paramount Pictures Vice Chairman Rob Moore; Viacom Entertainment Group President Doug Herzog; Viacom Chief Operating Officer Thomas Dooley; Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami;and such notable movie producers as Brian Grazer, A.C. Lyles, Robert Evans and Arnold Kopelson.
-- Meg James
Photo: Hollywood Chamber of Commerce officials unveil a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Sumner Redstone, seated, during a ceremony Friday in Los Angeles. Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman stands slightly behind Redstone. Credit: Christina House / For The Times