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Sumner Redstone: book reveals media mogul’s ‘astonishing saga of sex, lies and betrayal’



There was a time, not long ago, that America’s media and entertainment businesses were largely run as personal fiefdoms of their owners, executives and top stars. Then came the #MeToo movement and the sexual harassment scandals of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer and a host of others.

Now a new account of the career of media mogul Sumner Redstone, who died in 2020 at the age of 97, reveals just how awful, shocking and abusive that culture was at one of America’s biggest media empires.

The book, by New York Times journalists James Stewart and Rachel Abrams, paints a fresh picture of a corporate culture that believed that so long as the stock went up, and complex C-suite power games were in play, there was no compelling reason to place checks on the appetites of those whose need for control spanned institutional and sexual power.

At the peak of his power, Redstone controlled Viacom, Paramount Pictures, movie-theater chain National Amusements, CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and the publisher Simon & Schuster. In the age before Netflix and HBO, these household names threw off cash and prestige on an industrial-scale.

But as Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy details, there was “an astonishing saga of sex, lies, and betrayal” taking place behind the scenes.

Many incidents, but not all, involved Redstone himself. The son of a Boston linoleum salesman, Redstone finished at the top of his class at the Boston Latin School and won a scholarship to Harvard. He had helped crack Japanese codes during World War II, and turned his turned his father’s two drive-in theater business into multi-billion media behemoth of multiplexes – a term he coined – infused with the smell of popcorn.

The structural complexity of the companies Redstone controlled gave him free rein to indulge his instincts. In his houses, TVs were tuned to the stock price of the National Amusements, which he controlled through a preferential share-ownership structure.

But Redstone’s fortune was only half the story: what he did with it was itself an epic saga of brutal politicking and sexual predation. His ruthless will made him not a man to be argued with. He had, after all, once saved himself from incineration in a burning Boston hotel by hanging off a window ledge until his hand was badly and permanently disfigured.

According to Unscripted, Redstone amended his trust more than 40 times to add or remove beneficiaries, often the women he dated who got progressively younger as he got older. Several received $20m, “a lot” received $10m, and “many, many” received over $1m.

He propositioned one future girlfriend, 26-year-old Malia Andelin, who was working as a flight attendant on the company jet, with the line: “Who the fuck are you?” She responded in kind. “I hear women like to be spanked,” Redstone followed up. “Do you like to be spanked?”

“Some say I created Mission: Impossible, and some say that this mission is impossible,” Redstone told Andelin in a message on her voicemail. “But I made this mission possible… I know that if you called me back and you were a risk‑taker, this call could perhaps change your life.” He sent her a crystal‑encrusted handbag in the shape of a panther. “I’m a panther and I’m going to pounce,” read a note.

Redstone reportedly dated his grandson’s girlfriends. “He acts like a 15‑year‑old kid at summer camp,” one executive remarked. At age 85, he boasted on a retreat for fellow media moguls: “I have the vital statistics of a 20-year-old!”

Sumner Redstone and family in 2012.

He fought with his daughter, Shari, and into his 80s lived in a mansion with two women, Sydney Holland and Manuela Herzer, who, converted from lovers to gatekeepers, scheduled his girlfriends and isolated him from his family and friends.

As Redstone became increasing senile, his daughter tried to expel his minders and, later, to recover the $150m he had handed over to them after he was warned he would die alone if they left him. But as that drama progressed CBS’s CEO Les Moonves becomes embroiled in another.

As the CBS board hatched a plan to dilute the old man’s control by merging CBS and Viacom, Moonves, a one-time daytime TV actor, was exposed by then #MeToo crusader Ronan Farrow who located six women with accusations of harassment and intimidation and published their accounts in the New Yorker.

“It’s top down, this culture of older men who have all this power and you are nothing,” a veteran producer told the magazine. “The company is shielding lots of bad behavior.”

Moonves left the company in 2018 and sued for a $120m severance package. Three years later, he settled a New York State investigation into stock sales before the sexual harassment allegations were made public for more than $30m.

Unscripted offers shocking insight into the company’s culture during the Redstone-Moonves era. In one instance, Redstone spent $500,000 promoting the Electric Barbarellas, a breathtakingly trashy all-girl band, who made their CBS network debut on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on March 2011.

MTV executives protested the development of a Barbarellas reality show, calling the group “unwatchable and the music just as bad”. Sumner insisted: “I won’t be defied,” he said. Reviewers branded the show a “hypercontrived, superstaged, and hair‑extensioned mess”.

One question that hangs over the Redstone-Moonves era, as it does the media industry at large, is how the attitudes and behavior of senior executives within corporates structures exert influence beyond their immediate environment. In which case, the culture of Redstone’s empire had a traumatizing and abusive impact far wider than just the corporate offices in which it played out.

“It’s common sense that the people who run the media industry have an influence on the things we see and the culture they are controlling,”said Robert Thompson, trustee professor at the S .I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

“When American television was run by white males what we saw was reflected in the things they thought interesting. It’s one of the reasons why there was a call was to diversify not only what was in front of the camera but also behind the camera”, Thompson said.

“One can certainly see how the culture of that period created so much of the misbehavior we got. Executives operating on the level of wealth, power and entitlement are in some ways living in a different world. Whatever their id tells them, they have the resources to fulfill it.”

But there’s a larger question, too. The corporate structure of Redstone’s media creation was so complex and subject to his need for control that few were able or willing to challenge it.

When Redstone died during the Covid-19 pandemic, he was buried in his hometown of Boston. Few were present, but one of those was his daughter Shari. At the end of the service, she knelt close to his grave and sang Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” – a song to which Redstone often returned.

Even in death, apparently, his power lingered.

“You use the corporate structure to keep people confused enough to maintain another kind of control,” Thompson pointed out. “You’ve got these bad behaviors that #MeToo tried to exorcise, but that moves into a weird choreography of exploitation. Every element of this is a tale as old as time.”


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Bob Newhart, deadpan comedy icon Dies at 94



Bob Newhart, the deadpan accountant-turned-comedian who became one of the most popular TV stars of his time after striking gold with a classic comedy album, has died at 94.

Jerry Digney, Newhart’s publicist, says the actor died Thursday in Los Angeles after a series of short illnesses.

Newhart, best remembered now as the star of two hit television shows of the 1970s and 1980s that bore his name, launched his career as a standup comic in the late 1950s. He gained nationwide fame when his routine was captured on vinyl in 1960 as The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, which went on to win a Grammy Award as Album of the Year.

While other comedians of the time, including Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Alan King, and Mike Nichols and Elaine May, frequently got laughs with their aggressive attacks on modern mores, Newhart was an anomaly. His outlook was modern, but he rarely raised his voice above a hesitant, almost stammering delivery. His only prop was a telephone, used to pretend to hold a conversation with someone on the other end of the line.

In one memorable skit, he portrayed a Madison Avenue image-maker trying to instruct Abraham Lincoln on how to improve the Gettysburg Address: “Say 87 years ago instead of fourscore and seven,” he advised.

Another favorite was Merchandising the Wright Brothers, in which he tried to persuade the aviation pioneers to start an airline, although he acknowledged the distance of their maiden flight could limit them. “Well, see, that’s going to hurt our time to the Coast if we’ve got to land every 105 feet.”

Newhart was initially wary of signing on to a weekly TV series, fearing it would overexpose his material. Nevertheless, he accepted an attractive offer from NBC, and The Bob Newhart Show premiered on Oct. 11, 1961. Despite Emmy and Peabody awards, the half-hour variety show was canceled after one season, a source for jokes by Newhart for decades after.

He waited 10 years before undertaking another Bob Newhart Show in 1972. This one was a situation comedy with Newhart playing a Chicago psychologist living in a penthouse with his schoolteacher wife, Suzanne Pleshette. Their neighbors and his patients, notably Bill Daily as an airline navigator, were a wacky, neurotic bunch who provided an ideal counterpoint to Newhart’s deadpan commentary. The series, one of the most acclaimed of the 1970s, ran through 1978.

Four years later, the comedian launched another show, simply called Newhart. This time he was a successful New York writer who decides to reopen a long-closed Vermont inn. Again Newhart was the calm, reasonable man surrounded by a group of eccentric locals. Again the show was a huge hit, lasting eight seasons on CBS. It bowed out in memorable style in 1990 with Newhart — in his old Chicago psychologist character — waking up in bed with Pleshette, cringing as he tells her about the strange dream he had: “I was an innkeeper in this crazy little town in Vermont. … The handyman kept missing the point of things, and then there were these three woodsmen, but only one of them talked!” The stunt parodied a Dallas episode where a key character was killed off, then revived when the death was revealed to have been in a dream.

Two later series were comparative duds: Bob, in 1992-93, and George & Leo, 1997-98. Though nominated several times, he never won an Emmy for his sitcom work. “I guess they think I’m not acting. That it’s just Bob being Bob,” he sighed.

Over the years, Newhart also appeared in several movies, usually in comedic roles. Among them: Catch 22, In & Out, Legally Blonde 2, and Elf, as the diminutive dad of adopted full-size son Will Ferrell. More recent work included Horrible Bosses and the TV series The Librarians, The Big Bang Theory, and Young Sheldon.

Newhart married Virginia Quinn, known to friends as Ginny, in 1964, and remained with her until her death in 2023. They had four children: Robert, Timothy, Jennifer, and Courtney. Newhart was a frequent guest of Johnny Carson’s and liked to tease the thrice-divorced Tonight host that at least some comedians enjoyed long-term marriages. He was especially close with fellow comedian and family man Don Rickles, whose raucous insult humor clashed memorably with Newhart’s droll understatement.

“We’re apples and oranges. I’m a Jew, he’s a Catholic. He’s low-key, I’m a yeller,” Rickles told Variety in 2012. A decade later, Judd Apatow would pay tribute to their friendship in the short documentary Bob and Don: A Love Story.

A master of the gently sarcastic remark, Newhart got into comedy after he became bored with his $5-an-hour accounting job in Chicago. To pass the time, he and a friend, Ed Gallagher, began making funny phone calls to each other. Eventually, they decided to record them as comedy routines and sell them to radio stations.

Their efforts failed, but the records came to the attention of Warner Bros., which signed Newhart to a record contract and booked him into a Houston club in February 1960. “A terrified 30-year-old man walked out on the stage and played his first nightclub,” he recalled in 2003.

Six of his routines were recorded during his two-week date, and the album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, was released on April Fools’ Day 1960. It sold 750,000 copies and was followed by The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back!. At one point the albums ranked No. 1 and 2 on the sales charts. The New York Times in 1960 said he was “the first comedian in history to come to prominence through a recording.”

Besides winning Grammy’s Album of the Year for his debut, Newhart won as Best New Artist of 1960, and the sequel The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back! won as Best Comedy Spoken Word Album. Newhart was booked for several appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and at nightclubs, concert halls, and college campuses across the country. He hated the clubs, however, because of the heckling drunks they attracted. “Every time I have to step out of a scene and put one of those birds in his place, it kills the routine,” he said in 1960.

In 2004, he received another Emmy nomination, this time as Guest Actor in a Drama Series, for a role in E.R. Another honor came his way in 2007, when the Library of Congress announced it had added The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart to its registry of historically significant sound recordings. Just 25 recordings are added each year to the registry, which was created in 2000.

Newhart made the best-seller lists in 2006 with his memoir, I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This!. He was nominated for another Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album (a category that includes audio books) for his reading of the book.

“I’ve always likened what I do to the man who is convinced that he is the last sane man on Earth … the Paul Revere of psychotics running through the town and yelling `This is crazy.′ But no one pays attention to him,” Newhart wrote.

Born George Robert Newhart in Chicago to a German-Irish family, he was called Bob to avoid confusion with his father, who was also named George. At St. Ignatius High School and Loyola University in Chicago, he amused fellow students with imitations of James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Durante, and other stars. After receiving a degree in commerce, Newhart served two years in the Army. Returning to Chicago after his military service, he entered law school at Loyola, but flunked out. He eventually landed a job as an accountant for the state unemployment department. Bored with the work, he spent his free hours acting at a stock company in suburban Oak Park, an experience that led to the phone bits.

“I wasn’t part of some comic cabal,” Newhart wrote in his memoir. “Mike (Nichols) and Elaine (May), Shelley (Berman), Lenny Bruce, Johnny Winters, Mort Sahl — we didn’t all get together and say, Let’s change comedy and slow it down.′ It was just our way of finding humor. The college kids would hear mother-in-law jokes and say, What the hell is a mother-in-law?′ What we did reflected our lives and related to theirs.”

Newhart continued appearing on television occasionally after his fourth sitcom ended and vowed in 2003 that he would work as long as he could. “It’s been so much, 43 years of my life; (to quit) would be like something was missing,” he said.

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Avril Lavigne Rocks Glastonbury Amidst Bizarre Conspiracy Theory



Avril Lavigne’s electrifying performance on Glastonbury’s Other Stage had the crowd roaring with approval. However, for some in the audience, a lingering question might have remained: “Was that truly Avril Lavigne on stage?”  The Canadian pop-punk icon finds herself at the center of one of the internet’s most outlandish conspiracy theories.


From Let Go to Let Go of the Rumors? The Enduring Conspiracy Theory

The rumour, which can be traced back to a 2011 Brazilian blog post, posits a shocking twist: the real Avril Lavigne tragically died shortly after the release of her smash-hit debut album “Let Go” in 2002.  According to the theory, a look-alike named Melissa Vandella was brought in to replace her and continue her musical career.  The bizarre notion gained further traction with the release of the BBC podcast “Who Replaced Avril Lavigne?” which explored the theory in detail.


Lavigne Laughs it Off on Call Her Daddy Podcast

Appearing on the popular podcast “Call Her Daddy” hosted by Alex Cooper, Lavigne addressed the elephant in the room, or rather, the doppelgänger on the internet.  “It’s just funny to me,” she said, acknowledging the contrasting compliments she receives about her youthful appearance.  “Some people say I haven’t aged a day, while others believe I’m an impostor!” she explained.


Lavigne Finds Humor in the Absurd

Surprisingly chill about the whole ordeal, Lavigne seemed to find humour in the conspiracy theory.  “Honestly, it could be worse conspiracy theories out there,” she joked.  “I guess I got a good one!” she added, playfully downplaying the absurdity of the rumour.  Even when Cooper playfully prodded, asking if it wasn’t at least a little creepy, Lavigne remained unfazed.  She pointed out other artists who have been targeted by similar outlandish stories.


Fueling the Fire or Closing the Case?

However, Cooper couldn’t resist a final confirmation, perhaps for the benefit of any lingering doubters.

“Your name is Avril Lavigne, right?” she asked.  Lavigne’s response?  “I knew you half-believed it!”

This playful non-denial might fuel the fire for some conspiracy theorists.  Did Avril Lavigne address the rumour head-on, or simply add another layer of mystery to the already outlandish story?


One thing’s for sure, Avril Lavigne, or perhaps Melissa Vandella according to some, knows how to keep the conversation going.  While her Glastonbury performance silenced any doubts about her musical talent, the question of her true identity, at least for some, remains a lingering internet mystery.

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Here is the full List of 2024 Emmy nominations



The nominations for the 76th Emmy Awards were announced Wednesday.

“Shōgun” is the most-nominated series this year, scoring 25 total nominations. Following close behind are “The Bear” with 23 nods and “Only Murders in the Building” with 21 nominations.

With its 23 nominations, “The Bear” made history, bringing in the most nominations for a comedy series in one year.

The 76th Emmys celebrates the best in television that aired between June 2023 and May 2024.

Some of the 36 first-time performer nominees include Jonathan Bailey, Dakota Fanning, Lily Gladstone, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Rudd, Ryan Gosling and Greta Lee.

Tony Hale, a two-time Emmy winner for “Veep,” and Sheryl Lee Ralph, an Emmy winner for “Abbott Elementary,” announced the nominees live from the iconic El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

Ralph learned about her third Emmy nomination for playing Barbara Howard on “Abbott Elementary” live during the nomination ceremony.

“Honey, that never gets old,” she said enthusiastically.

The 76th Emmy Awards will broadcast live from the Peacock Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 15, from 8 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET on ABC. It will also stream the next day on Hulu.

A host has yet to be announced for the ceremony.

The 75th Emmy Awards aired earlier this year, after being delayed due to the 2023 Hollywood strikes. “Succession,” “The Bear” and “Beef” took home the top awards of the night, winning for outstanding drama series, outstanding comedy series and outstanding limited or anthology series, respectively.

Check out a full recap of the 75th Emmys here.

Check out a list of nominees below.

Outstanding talk series

  • “The Daily Show”
  • “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
  • “Late Night with Seth Meyers”
  • “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”

Reality competition program

  • “The Amazing Race”
  • “RuPaul’s Drag Race”
  • “Top Chef”
  • “The Traitors”
  • “The Voice”

Lead actor in a limited or anthology series or movie

  • Matt Bomer, “Fellow Travelers”
  • Richard Gadd, “Baby Reindeer”
  • Jon Hamm, “Fargo”
  • Tom Hollander, “Feud: Capote vs. the Swans”
  • Andrew Scott, “Ripley”

Lead actress in a limited or anthology series or movie

  • Jodie Foster, “True Detective: Night Country”
  • Brie Larson, “Lessons in Chemistry”
  • Juno Temple, “Fargo”
  • Sofía Vergara, “Griselda”
  • Naomi Watts, “Feud: Capote vs. the Swans”

Limited or anthology series

  • “Baby Reindeer”
  • “Fargo”
  • “Lessons in Chemistry”
  • “Ripley”
  • “True Detective: Night Country”

Lead actress in a drama series

  • Jennifer Aniston, “The Morning Show”
  • Carrie Coon, “The Gilded Age”
  • Maya Erskine, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”
  • Anna Sawai, “Shо̄gun”
  • Imelda Staunton, “The Crown”
  • Reese Witherspoon, “The Morning Show”

Lead actor in a drama series

  • Idris Elba, “Hijack”
  • Donald Glover, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”
  • Walton Goggins, “Fallout”
  • Gary Oldman, “Slow Horses”
  • Hiroyuki Sanada, “Shōgun”
  • Dominic West, “The Crown”

Drama series

  • “The Crown”
  • “Fallout”
  • “The Gilded Age”
  • “The Morning Show”
  • “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”
  • “Shōgun”
  • “Slow Horses”
  • “3 Body Problem”

Lead actor in a comedy series

  • Matt Berry, “What We Do in the Shadows”
  • Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
  • Steve Martin, “Only Murders in the Building”
  • Martin Short, “Only Murders in the Building”
  • Jeremy Allen White, “The Bear”
  • D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, “Reservation Dogs”

Lead actress in a comedy series

  • Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary”
  • Ayo Edebiri, “The Bear”
  • Selena Gomez, “Only Murders in the Building”
  • Maya Rudolph, “Loot”
  • Jean Smart, “Hacks”
  • Kristen Wiig, “Palm Royale”

Comedy series

  • “Abbott Elementary”
  • “The Bear”
  • “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
  • “Hacks”
  • “Only Murders in the Building”
  • “Palm Royale”
  • “Reservation Dogs”
  • “What We Do in the Shadows”

For more nominations, head over to

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