Sumner Redstone has said publicly that he no longer trusts Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman to run the media conglomerate. After moving on Thursday to boot Dauman from the company’s board of directors, the 93-year-old mogul now seems poised to remove him from his corner office altogether.
Who then would step up to run the vast media empire, which includes Paramount Pictures and cable TV networks like MTV and Comedy Central? And, more important, who can dazzle the seat of advisory power occupied by Shari Redstone?
“Viacom is still working off an old media model — ad-supported, ratings-driven, linear,” said one executive who has worked closely with the company for decades.
“I wouldn’t count Philippe out yet, he’s a litigator after all, but whoever takes this job who has to course-correct the company and find a way to monetize digital. It’s still a job that needs an experienced executive from the old guard,” the individual added.
TheWrap found 10 possible candidates for Dauman’s job:
Mosko is the soon-departing Chairman of Sony Pictures Television, who leaves behind a 24-year career at the Tokyo-owned studio. A hard-charging executive with the exuberance of salesman, Mosko’s on the job hunt.
He’s also a likable guy with a formidable roster of hits including “The Blacklist,” “The Goldbergs,” “Better Call Saul,” “Masters of Sex,” “Outlander” and “Bloodline.”
Chernin is a figure in the same neighborhood as moguls like Redstone. He served as News Corp’s President and COO for 13 years, from 1996-2009, and is one of a small club of American businesspeople who understand the diverse and demanding landscape of a media giant like Viacom.
Seligman was president of both Sony Entertainment and Sony Corporation of America for 15 years before she left her post in March.
She’s one of the newly named members of the Viacom board, if Redstone can get his new choices approved by the courts, and she comes with a sterling reputation in the industry. While she’s never directly worked in programming or creative, Seligman is known to be decisive and whip smart.
Doug Herzog is President of the Viacom Music & Entertainment Group. He oversees brands like MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Spike and Logo. Herzog is synonymous with the TV group and a fixture at live events. He’s well received by talent and creatives alike. Herzog ran the USA Network, and came back to Viacom in 2004 where he started his career.
Sure, Moonves is the Chairman and CEO of CBS, which split from Viacom in 2006. But some can envision a world where that network (in which Redstone’s privately held National Amusements also maintains an 80 percent stake) might rejoin Viacom and leave Moonves the presumptive leader. He’s certainly got opinions on how his business works.
Freston was famously ousted as the CEO of Viacom in 2006, and individuals inside Viacom described him as “persona non grata,” but that may well be water under the bridge.
Freston would only need to impress Shari — and he seemed to soften the ground this week when he openly criticized Dauman as “elitist.”
Now that NBCUniversal has swooped up his baby, DreamWorks Animation, the notorious workaholic and longtime Hollywood figure Katzenberg has an open calendar.
He’s said to be taking an advisory role at AwesomenessTV, but a position such as Viacom would be a natural fit for the longtime exec. Problem: Katzenberg is not widely liked, though he’s certainly respected, and is known as a big spender.
Sweeney’s surprise exit from the Disney/ABC TV group in 2014 was said to be motivated by a desire to step behind the camera and direct for television. But given her decades-long experience managing over two dozen channels and Disney’s interests in venture like Hulu, she’s an easy target for headhunters.
Viacom’s current COO survived the Thursday cuts to the board of directors and is rooted in the company’s practical operations and investor relations.
Despite numerous statements to the contrary, Sumner’s daughter Shari could easily step in as interim CEO if the blood feud with Dauman continues and no other viable replacements emerge.