Fortune - The Disturbing Decline of Sumner Redstone (Part 1 of 3) 5-15min

With a trial about to begin, lurid and alarming details of the billionaire’s condition and the scheming around him continue to emerge. Many questions will arise in the courtroom—and control of CBS and Viacom could ultimately hang in the balance. ... Redstone is a man who, for decades, dominated those around him. Now diminished, by some accounts a wraith, he is not expected even to be in the courtroom at a trial that centers on what condition he’s in. He will be questioned by each side for 15 minutes at home (the videotaped deposition will be shown only to the judge). Even that small amount of testimony might be too much for him. ... What’s beyond dispute is that this fight has sent shock waves through Redstone’s vast empire. It was this tawdry case—and not a planned corporate succession or steps taken by either board—that forced his belated departure as chairman of the two companies in February, despite his repeated vows that he’d never step down. (He also claimed he’d never die.) It has focused attention on the business woes at Viacom, where profits are faltering, the creative and digital strategies seem suspect, and the stock has dropped 39% in the past year. And it has prompted CBS chief Leslie Moonves to start quietly maneuvering to get out from under the Redstone family’s thumb altogether, according to a Reuters report. ... This account is based on interviews with dozens of people, including Herzer, current and former high-ranking executives of Viacom and CBS, people close to Redstone and his family, witnesses to events at his mansion, and lawyers in the case, as well as hundreds of pages of court records and documents. ... In the end, Redstone’s corporate affairs fell into disarray because he stubbornly refused to put his house in order—scoffing at succession plans, appointing pliant boards, and running his $40 billion enterprise like a family grocery store. ... Christine Peters, a Hollywood producer and onetime Redstone flame, recalls sitting down for dinner at a restaurant in Hawaii with her daughters and the mogul, then about 80, when his steak arrived overdone. Redstone summoned the chef to their table, stuck his fork in the meat, and flung it at him. “Why are you so mean to people?” she recalls asking him. “I don’t care,” Redstone replied. “I’m going to hell anyway.”