Viacom Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone won't be attending his company's annual shareholders' meeting in New York next week. However, later this month, he will be staking out a spot on Hollywood Boulevard.
Redstone will be at the center of attention on March 30 when he receives his own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. He will join the ranks of other past and present media moguls with their names forever emblazoned on the legendary Hollywood stretch including Ted Turner, Michael Eisner, Louis B. Mayer and Darryl Zanuck.
Redstone, the 88-year-old controlling shareholder of both Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp., has been making fewer public appearances in recent years. However, he did attend the 84th Academy Awards last Sunday, an event also staged on Hollywood Boulevard, about 8 miles from his home in the gated enclave of Beverly Park.
But he is not planning to make the cross-country trip to New York to attend next week's shareholders meeting, marking the first time in memory that Redstone will miss Viacom's annual gathering. Redstone's absence will be due to an "unavoidable conflict," Viacom spokesman Carl Folta said Thursday, declining to elaborate on the reason.
Instead, the man who once roared that "Viacom is me" will address shareholders in a videotaped message. Redstone's conflict, according to Folta, was "not health related."
Even though Redstone won't be there in person, he still will control the show. Redstone holds nearly 80% of Viacom's voting shares, so it is a safe bet that he will cast the votes necessary to retain his seat as executive chairman. In Viacom's most recent fiscal year, Redstone raked in $21 million in executive compensation — about $6 million more than he received in 2010.
Viacom includes such assets as MTV, VH-1, Comedy Central, BET, TV Land and the Hollywood-based movie studio Paramount Pictures.
— Meg James
Photo: Sumner Redstone, center, arrives at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood on Feb. 26. Credit: Paul Buck / European Pressphoto Agency