Well, someone in the Viacom family of companies is in a flop-sweat this morning.
Sumner Redstone, the 87-year-old chairman of Viacom, apparently left a voicemail at the Daily Beast office of reporter Peter Lauria, offering "reward" and "protection" in exchange for the name of the source on a story that slams Redstone's randy new pet project. (Audio via the Beast is in the video player at the bottom of this post).
The backstory: Lauria wrote a piece earlier this month about Redstone's affinity for an all-girl band called the Electric Barbarellas, evidently similar in looks and tone to the Pussycat Dolls; similar in singing talent to kewpie dolls.
According to Lauria's original post, Redstone has been flying the girls across the country at great expense to meet with record executives and pressuring MTV executives to give them a reality show, despite their apparently obvious lack of talent (and two other, more promising "girl-group" projects already in development at MTV).
Redstone, who's never taken kindly to negative press (Tom Cruise can attest), implored Lauria to give up his source in the three-minute voicemail message, and a follow-up interview, on Monday. In the voicemail, Redstone told Lauria that he doesn't want to "kill" the source — or even fire him — he just wants to "talk to him." (Never mind that he opens the message by mumbling something about needing the name "for the lawsuit.")
"It is inevitable that with me involved this person will be found out," Redstone said. "We will protect you completely …we're not gonna hurt this guy … give us the name, and you will be well rewarded."
Redstone also defends the quality of the group, saying that the showrunner tells him that they are "revolutionary."
TheWrap reached out to Daily Beast editor Tina Brown and a representative for Redstone; neither immediately returned our messages left late Tuesday morning.
Here's that audio: