Sumner Redstone built a media and entertainment empire worth $40 billion consisting of the movie-theater chain National Amusements and a controlling stake in CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. At 93, the Boston-bred billionaire is chairman of the board and chief executive of National Amusements and chairman emeritus of Viacom and CBS. The dismissal of a recent lawsuit in Los Angeles set off a flurry of changes to his trust.
Redstone’s ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court questioning Redstone’s mental competency and alleging she was owed $70 million after she was pushed out. Redstone has been living in a $20 million mansion in LA. Herzer blamed the mogul’s daughter, Shari, for turning her father against her. A judge dismissed the case on May 9 after a one-day trial.
Boston and Norwood
National Amusements, headquartered in Norwood, owns about 80 percent of Viacom Class A shares. Redstone owns 80 percent of National Amusements, held in a trust, and Shari Redstone owns 20 percent. National Amusements is the Redstones’ third-generation business with about 900 theaters.
The trust — formed as part of the divorce agreement between Redstone and his first wife, Phyllis Redstone — will determine the future of CBS and Viacom after Sumner Redstone dies or is declared mentally incapacitated. The seven-member trust consists of two family members — Shari Redstone and her son, Tyler
Korff — and five independent members, including Sumner Redstone’s divorce attorney and Phyllis’s.
Shari Redstone, president of National Amusements, is also vice chair of CBS and Viacom. She is Sumner Redstone’s only daughter and his only child involved in the family business. Another son, Brent, sued his father a decade ago and took a $250 million buyout.
George Abrams, a longtime Boston lawyer for Sumner Redstone, was removed by Redstone from his trust and the National Amusements board on May 20. Abrams, along with Viacom executive chairman Philippe Dauman who was also forced off the trust and board, filed sued against Shari Redstone and other trust members on May 23 in Norfolk probate and family court in Canton. Abrams and Dauman are fighting their removal, calling Shari Redstone an “estranged daughter who has manipulated her father to achieve her goals.”
Tad Jankowski, National Amusements’ executive vice president and general counsel, was named to the Redstone trust on May 24. Redstone hired Jankowski out of Boston University School of Law 35 years ago. Jankowski was Redstone’s teaching assistant when he taught at the law school.
Betsy Burnett, a lawyer at Mintz Levin, represents Shari Redstone. Mintz Levin chairman Bob Popeo introduced Burnett to Shari in 2007 and has been her personal lawyer. “We have talked every day since then,’’ said Burnett.
Nancy Sterling, senior vice president at ML Strategies, has been Shari Redstone’s spokeswoman since 2007. ML Strategies is the consulting arm of Mintz Levin.
Bill Lee and Robert Cultice, both partners at WilmerHale, represent Abrams and Dauman. Lee is a leading intellectual property litigator and chairman of the Harvard Corporation, the university’s main governing board.
Boston lawyers David Andelman and Norman Jacobs, and Lincoln financier Leonard Lewin are named defendants in a suit filed by Abrams and Dauman. Andelman, Jacobs, and Lewin are independent trustees. Jacobs was Sumner’s divorce attorney; Lewin represented Phyllis Redstone. Lewin, vice chairman of Athena Capital Advisors, previously served as chief legal counsel to Governors Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift.
Philippe Dauman, the Viacom executive chairman, was ousted from Redstone’s trust and the National Amusements board on May 20, apparently because Redstone was unhappy with Dauman’s management of the company.
Jill Krutick, former media executive and equity analyst, was named to Redstone trust and National Amusements board on May 24, after Abrams and Dauman were kicked off.
Kimberlee Ostheimer, Sumner Redstone’s oldest granddaughter and Shari’s daughter, joined board of National Amusements on May 24.
Tyler Korff, Shari’s oldest son and the other family member on the trust, was named in suit filed by Abrams and Dauman.