The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Sumner Redstone on Rupert Murdoch: 'He enjoys gossip, but not about himself'

April 27, 2010 |  4:32 pm

Sumner redstone If I were ever going to pitch a reality TV series, I'd simply say: Put a camera and a mike in front of Sumner Redstone, Hollywood's craziest octogenarian mogul, follow him around for a few days and, well, just see what happens.

The feisty Viacom czar, who will be 87 next month and never misses an opportunity to boast that he'll live forever, was on stage late Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference, accompanied by a supporting cast made of producer Brian Grazer and Michael Milken himself.

According to this post from the Hollywood Reporter, Redstone had an itch involving longtime rival media czar Rupert Murdoch -- and decided to scratch it. Clearly still smarting from the fact that Murdoch makes more money from his media empire than Redstone does from his, the Viacom chief took aim on Murdoch's investment in the Wall Street Journal. Here's what Redstone had to say:

"He paid $5 billion for the Wall Street Journal without competition. And you know what? There won't be any newspapers in a few years. The difference between me and Murdoch is, he lives in ink and I live with movies and television. Ink is going to go away, and movies and television will be here forever -- just like me."

Like I said, Sumner is always bragging about how he's never going to die. I guess when he finally does keel over, the obituary headline will read: Mogul Who Promised to Live Forever Goes Back on His Word.

As for Murdoch's other U.S. newspaper, the oily New York Post, Redstone complained that the Post's notorious Page Six gossip column once claimed that he was romantically involved with a woman seated near him in a restaurant, when he was actually having lunch with Tom Cruise. I'd say Redstone got off easy, since it wouldn't have been much of a surprise if Page Six, just for sport, had wondered if Redstone was romantically linked with Cruise. "You have to be careful with any newspaper that Murdoch runs," Redstone complained. "He enjoys gossip, but not about himself."

But the really great thing about Redstone is that he can still remember what movie won the Oscar nearly 15 years ago. At one point during the presentation, Grazer told of the time that he was in the audience at the Academy Awards in 1996, waiting to hear if his film, "Apollo 13," would win best picture. Grazer said that he could see a "B" rolling off presenter Sidney Poitier's lips, as if he were about to say "Brian," and started to get up from his seat, only to hear Poitier say, "Braveheart" instead. Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell, who was sitting with Grazer, consoled him by saying, "I never made it to the moon either."

You could imagine everyone's heart in the room going out to this portrait of Grazer as the poor loser. Well, everyone's heart except for Redstone, who chimed in with the thoughtful reminder: " 'Braveheart' was my picture.' " Isn't it nice to know that in Hollywood, nice guys never finish last?

Photo: Sumner Redstone pictured at the Los Angeles premiere of "How to Train Your Dragon." Credit: Nina Prommer / European Pressphoto Agency