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tv   Keach Hagey The King of Content  CSPAN  November 8, 2018 5:59am-6:46am EST

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. >> good evening i am president of the louisiana press club thank you. this is recorded for c-span so with a quick introduction you may know this already but some with the battle of content with viacom and get trying to get the media empire and in that finance world and to take
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over the families from boston and high profile acquisitions with the media empire that now includes from viacom and cbs is the most watched as it is home to big bang theory, and cis,cis, "60 minutes" and pioneer and owns nickelodeon and bet tv so really has touched our lives in so many ways we don't even think about from spongebob to jersey shore with much more popular
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culture. so it's a portrait of a family and all the tragedies and triumphs that come. one of the most interesting characters. i'm happy that you picked up on that with four generations so nikki from his dad and to become max rothstein i compare everything to new york.
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and to drop out of high school the dentist turned bookie and in 1938 and the fungi to so they went to night pubs for a while because that is where barbara walters dad started the first one and they were
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figures there and the book has a whole section about the underworld that that was in an apartment he was carted off to jail. and that still the company that controls cbs and viacom. . >> that is the other aspect of this book so it doesn't include any of the back story
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so with those stories of the hotel fire in boston to see the journalist to see more in that story than in the autobiography. . >> so the only of her own - - of the book is the autobiography. and with the plaza hotel in boston everybody knows the story. he smelled smoke under his hotel room door and was
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blasted by fire and then they burned him horribly. and then to start your own autobiography with this story. and then he is alone in the hotel room. and probably was not alone in that hotel room but what i discovered with the research is how completely obvious it was that he was not alone. he had a mistress at that time named elsa who was a writer and was living there for a long time. so i talk to her kids she got out the winter - - the window first because she was younger
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it was no big ad deal so their names were in "the boston globe" the next day but one thing - - one story that was published under a different name and then that disappears from the archives forever and then that disappears from the archives forever at night somewhere they were celebrating the warner bros. executive in the hotel. and then they were in this adjoining room with this guy
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and he was also with a woman that night. and then the month after that. so it was just much darker and stranger so that's where that would be in his autobiography like that and then just to cultivate a source and those to think about the stories so what was that like but also in 1979. >> and then with the people who were there and of course, there was litigation after the fire.
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so there were many forces around that but yes. the mistresses kid and there were other kids that were involved. it's weird in redstone land. that they feel like they haven't been able to share because when i started the book he was not that well. maybe they were not as scared as in the past. >> as a tragic figure this is summer's brother? and he got in a fight with his brother and his father kicked out of the company. really estranged from his own as well who had their own unfortunate fate. talk a little bit about him and what you learned about him. >> yes because nikki who
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founded it but eddie, the younger of the two brothers went to work long before sumner ever did. and then three drive-ins there is a handful. and that's not really true. to have that illustrious legal career and was a brilliant guy but he jot tried to join the company that then he just elbowed his little brother out of the way and it came to litigation as these things always do. and he really denied ever pushing his brother out of the company but it was clear from the papers that he did or his
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brother felt that he did. and the source of that conflict was complicated to say the least but eddie had two kids he was not a very good father. one of his kids he locked up in a mental institution for his entire teenage years which was a huge conflict in the family because the grandparents thought this was awful bringing shame to the family and the other ran off to join children of god. and basically never heard from again and died of aids in tokyo. so with eddie, he lost his way with his parents because they
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perceived him as mistreating his own kids especially locking up his 11 -year-old in a mental institution who did not get out until he was 17 and busted his way out that was the cause of eddie being pushed out of the family business. >> you mentioned the lawsuits so with the brothers him and his father saw him with his son that were suing. >> and then the granddaughter joined the litigation against her grandfather. >> they are all lawyers so that is part of it. it is a very sad dysfunctional family. and for me my story is that
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sherry is the last one standing she is the daughter. for people of her generation they have suffered awful fates and she is the last one standin standing. >> so i wonder to what extent was money the root of the problem if there was no money with a have fought quick. >> clearly. most obviously guess you have to fight one - - have something to fight over. but people who observed the family but a lot of the blame on the mother. she pushed them very hard. she was high strung. that was part of that to make them feel no matter what it didn't matter who you had to push aside to win so that is
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one explanation. the money is another but even on eddie's side the woman that eddie married thinking there was a little bit of mental illness worked in there also. >> and then going to school and then going on to harvard right during world war ii and as a successful lawyer and also a very tough negotiator and a leader in the movie industry and then to embark with these artist and every battle that he fought first to get viacom and then paramount, cbs, even blockbuster video, that was to
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his success in driving him quick. >> i think that sumner was intoxicated by his success as an investor. yes he was a businessman and had a whole career of national amusements and a leader in the industry as you say. he like to be on stage giving speeches. originally thought he would go to the public sector that he was destined for and made a turn but then realized it was just a business but in the late seventies he started investing in the studios which were there own companies back then. you could see "star wars" and say that's a good movie i should invest in fox and you
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would make a ton of money because as a theater owner you would get the sneak peek at the movies people say isn't that insider trading? but yes he would invest and made a killing with fox and columbia and a bunch of other independent studios but i really think he had this addiction to stock trading that it was an expression of that everything had to do with the stock price. like the american economy and the junk bonds and leveraged buyout and will it would be part of financial engineering it was more that than what
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drive him to amass what he did. >> the companies did so well and maybe if he was incapacitated not watching the stock a little more closer. >> certainly a few years ago when that stock was down by 50 percent it's hard to believe that was allowed to happen. >> talk about the latest generation you talked about his daughter and eddie the brother at one point very hands-on x-letter - - expanding internationally but then her father was publicly criticizing her almost ready to buy her out then she comes running back the past three years in a big way. what did we learn about her and her drive quick.
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>> she is her father's daughter if nothing else. you should not underestimate her she has watched generations of redstone's fight each other so she knows how to do it you get lawyers. it is challenging because sherry's asking questions about risk capacity which is still technically an open question even though all of us here that communicates at best through the ipad to say yes and no and f you. that is the best case scenario. the worst case what we know is his longtime friend earlier
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this year everyone around him fought intensely to keep from the public eye. the "wall street journal" filed a request of the court that investors should know how he is doing they tried very hard to block that. so with sherry, she had a reconciliation with her father when the women around him were pushed out it is possible for that to be true and for him not to have capacity. >> one of the most fascinating parts is how all parties involved really in this puzzle with the former ceo of viacom and that women are - - women
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who were sumner's girlfriend that were paid 75 each so for example, when sherry was trying to get rid of the others said he was making decisions on his own but then giving women $150 million and that happened before. so is she right are doing what is best for shareholders to remove the ceo? is she doing what is right for her children to take over control? her father had given into in another era but to what extent
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is she misrepresenting the situation with her dad's capacity quick. >> right. that is the most relevant question. also will - - ultimately i agree with you the implication of the question is the things that she has done are the right things every investor in viacom was glad that philippe was gone because of what happened to the stock and her family is glad that women are gone and they can be close to their grandfather. so what she was trying to do seemed like the right thing so now the question is why the charade? does he have capacity? or when? there was a clear path that this happened you could say sumner lacks capacity she is on the trust that the reason i
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think is because back then philippe was on the trust until you got rid of him you couldn't say that sumner lacked capacity. so why are they still claiming? people say he would be offended and i would hurt his feelings. >> people that were not following this as regularly but what she has accomplished the last few years it is extraordinary and much like her dad is in almost every outline. >> yes. both companies have an overhaul of the board with this recent settlement a couple weeks ago half of the board something that she wanted for a long time but
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that was astonishing that she accomplished. so a new ceo and basically a new board of both companies and is completely in control and then try to strip her family of control. . . . .
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anyone working in the media around about last december started hearing that they were working on a story that was going to end the career. i heard this loudly "the new york times." we reported. i will be honest we dug hard and we didn't find what he ultimately found, but cherie heard at the same things everyone else had heard and went to the board and said board members, don't you think maybe we should do something about this whole idea that he's going to take down the ceo? it's been very hard. what are they supposed to do. now it turns out to be a gigantic problem and he left. >> where are we now in the red
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storm saga, are we past this or the now have one who's going to rule for the next 35 years? i don't see any challenges to the authority. from what i hear around the space, i think there will be more conflict. it was expected that the board members left very abruptly which was unexpected at all. >> how will he ultimately be
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remembered to do using as having accomplished much was he a visionary? it turns out to be really true. we see now that netflix if they don't need to buy a studio, they need to buy content and that slices through everything. the conglomerates that he created still pretty intact but for example they put the kibosh right on that. i think it will remain part of viacom for the foreseeable future.
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>> journalism and how you ended up. >> keach is the last name in my family i got given as a first name. i'm from indiana like ten minutes from the south. so that is my weird name. i went to stanford as far from indiana as i could get and i then went to new york and wanted to write.
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i got a masters in english and i liked poetry. i did like rock concert reviews for the paper but i wasn't like a news junkie by any stretch. let's talk about my first journalism job. my first journalism job was for the chronicle, a community paper out in queens. you have to take so many jobs before you can actually work in new york so then i had to work in greenwich and abu dhabi. it takes a long time to be up to
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work as a journalist in new york. >> and your career path, you are someone always looking out and networking to make things happen for yourself or do people just sort of call, how did it all come together? >> i'm not a good networker. the main thing you have to have is a car. if you just have a car the salary wouldn't pay for your car that you would be fine. you would drive around for the majority that's how i got the early jobs. there was a moment after that path i did the community board
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meeting which is gone i think now that there was a point we realized this is not going anywhere and i met a guy named wayne barrett who died on the evening of trumps inauguration. he's a great journalism mentor. >> and at some point you decided to write this book. how much time did that tak it td was it a tough decision? i was in the paper a lot i thought about nothing but writing a book.
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what are you talking about. i had a few ideas in my mind that desperately wanted to do one sbeone so i jumped at the ce and they gave me six months to leave which was by far the hardest part that turned into something because i spend too long researching even though there was news about this going on all the time. >> the other crazy thing is i was very pregnant when i got the book deal. may 20, 2016 i got a call from a pr person saying that he'd been kicked off the trust which is very arcane.
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it was the most shocking thing that happened. then i had to e-mail everyone after like this is the plan with the story. that was kind of a crazy moment. we are going to give you a microphone because we are recording it.
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i'm not familiar with the whole album working of this. felipe waonly they who was the l a couple of years ago. sumner basically hired him to help him ponder whether he should take over viacom. they liked each other so much that he never left. he was put on the board of the company in a few years and a it sort of in and out as the most
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trusted advisor that touches on the family dynamic who ultimately fought for hi with hd and was bought out the family empire. i never found a satisfying reason people said he was too nice or was a little -- he prosecuted murder cases.
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he dabbled into the business and just moved to colorado. >> how does the amount of time you spent researching the book what percentage was devoted to public records efforts and going to the polling paper's? the backbone of the book legal documents. that's a huge percentage of what all the citations are. however, i think i learned a lot about the public records system
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in this process and my every attempt to get into the normal ways of sending your check the only way to do it is to have a lawyer involved in the depositions are never kept the lawyers. you can't cite other media. you have to have primary sources so i was trying to find the sources if there was a police raid i would spend three months arguing with the boston police like what you mean it's been don moved to another building? is ridiculous so i eased up and
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off know i can just use the "boston globe" or whatever. that's like an idiot i beat my head against the wall and realized most of this public records are just going. i remember some of the predecessors in the media they used to think of the antitrust laws that kept the networks and film studios from being owned by
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studios and networks and content production companies i noticed it really dovetailed with the massive regulation of the media. what did you see in exploring that aspect of how it reflected what was going on in washington at the time? >> sumner was an antitrust lawyer and worked at the justice department and the antitrust division and he had a very sophisticated understanding of antitrust law and ask what do you attribute in his being able to build the empire yesterday in an investor is one of them but the understanding of antitrust laws may be even higher and throughout the century it seemed
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like most of their time as the markets it's like i'm filing a trust law against all the studios in hollywood. this is how they fought and he was the best at doing that and he's the heashe's the head of tr owners association. so for sure he was able to recognize the importance of the changes in the wall in law in y other people were not sophisticated enough to understand. cbs and viacom coming together was caused by the change in regulation that made some deregulatory move for the other stations could be owned and
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that's how the original conversation started because the biggest media deal in history so that is definitely a deregulatory story and out every single turn what he did he was trying to use the antitrust law for his advantage with a business tool. but isn't it crazy that knowing all of those balls that disney just bought fox. >> when sumner was out of world war ii and graduating law school and the studios which was the first great movie and television regulation and then it just exploded until it didn't anymo
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anymore. this is what keeps the poor movie owners from being able to make their own content. i want to ask a different question. the village voice was extraordinary and i wonder as a journalist with you thought about that. >> i'm just incredibly sad. i was talking about this earlier during cocktail hour.
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i am a media reporters with hard for me to not see it through that when his first. just the business model is was completely not attainable in the current age. one of my first jobs i was the receptionist and my job was to receive the crumbled dollar bills from the workers who advertised in the back. i think it's been so relevant for you tway to see what happene village voice to become back page and it was like sex trafficking is in chile. there's this amazing cultural
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institution that the business model driving it was deeply unfortunate. so i have mixed emotions about that. it's sad that there is no other business model to support that kind of cultural and political writing because it hasn't been replaced. this idea that it would move is not true. it's a gigantic loss culturally for new york city. i was wondering if you can talk about how you drive the truth is can you give a specific example in the book.
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>> in this book there was an active litigation. frankly sometimes i would just do a he said he said in certain moments there with the different points of view and i would have to basically present in both t the. but for me into "the wall street journal" tradition of reporting where you can't just pick the sexiest story and go with that, you have to call every person who could have possibly known about any fact and ask them. when you do that, what happens is your story gets super model so there are different parts in my solution to th that problem s just mud.
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>> were there any unexpected that came up and if so how did you deal with it and if not what would you leave out of the box to avoid? >> i was expecting there to be a lot of these obstacles and i was really surprised that there were none. keep on writing as my dad always used to tell me. [applause]

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