In what must be one of the most literary legal briefs in Hollywood history, lawyers for Sumner Redstone’s ex Manuela Herzer invoked Shakespeare to ask for a new trial about his medical care.
Realizing that the complicated Sumner Redstone saga is too complicated for most people — it involves two ex-girlfriends, a corporate empire that includes Viacom, CBS and Paramount and a fight over legal jurisdiction in Massachusetts and Los Angeles — Herzer’s lawyers decided to simplify things by invoking Shakespeare.
Here’s an excerpt from Monday’s filing:
The comparison of waning Sumner Redstone to demented King Lear is apt. Ailing and easily fooled, King Lear, unable to discern false flattery from the truth, is duped into surrendering his power, land, and fortune to his two conniving daughters who ruthlessly implement their scheme to eliminate all opposition. The contemporary version of this drama was set to unfold in five acts in a trial in the Los Angeles Probate Court. If the play had run its course, it would have revealed that Shari Redstone (“Shari”) was Goneril and Regan combined, Manuela Herzer was the wronged Cordelia who truly loved and cared about Lear, and Redstone was Lear, blind to his daughter’s lies about Manuela.
But the trial was interrupted after the first scene. Redstone was revealed as a frail, mentally challenged 92-year-old man–with a diagnosed major neurological disorder, lifeless eyes, and a vacant expression–who cannot speak intelligibly, cannot answer simple questions, cannot process information, and has a severely impaired memory. What the Court and public did not get to see, however, was how it came to pass that Redstone had been transformed into this fragile shell of a once powerful, media titan who mechanically condemned his beloved confidante and loyal friend Herzer and embraced his long-estranged, detested daughter as his health care agent. Had Petitioner been allowed to present her evidence, the reasons for Redstone’s profane denunciation of her would have become readily apparent.
You see? It’s all quite simple.
Herzer, who began dating Redstone in the ’90s and was ejected from his Beverly Hills home in the fall, contends that Redstone’s once-estranged daughter, Shari, has worked behind the scenes to keep Herzer from making important decisions about the now-93-year-old’s medical care. She is seeking a new trial after one she previously filed was dismissed in May.
Redstone was largely impossible to understand during his recorded testimony, except when he declared Herzer to be a “f—ing bitch.”
Redstone’s longtime advisors Philippe Dauman and George S. Abrams, meanwhile, are suing in a suburban Boston court over what they say was Shari Redstone secretly pulling the strings to have Redstone remove them from the trust that will control his fortune if he becomes incapacitated or dies.
Redstone’s lawyers have argued all along that he is in control of his faculties and making his own decisions.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.