Sumner M. Redstone


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents



About this interview

In his nearly two-hour Archive Interview, Viacom Executive Sumner Redstone reveals his early experiences as a code breaker during World War II and recalls his start at National Amusements, the drive-in theater company founded by his father. Redstone shares how he quickly turned the company into a thriving nation-wide theater chain and soon sought ways to diversify his interests. He discusses his purchase of Viacom in 1987 and the later acquisitions of Paramount, Blockbuster and CBS. Redstone explains his philosophy for success, which includes a passion for winning and a commitment to excellence, and expounds upon his mantra that "content is king." Don West conducted the interview in New York, New York on November 16, 2000.

"I believe that the only philosophy of life that's compatible with sanity is optimism.  And the other thing I believe, and I've taught to my kids from day one: success is not built on success; it's built on failure. Frustration. Sometimes even calamity -- and how we deal with it."

Sumner Redstone on "content is king"
Sumner Redstone on the legend of leaving a screening of Star Wars to buy shares of 20th Century Fox
Sumner Redstone on MTV
Sumner Redstone on repurposing content on TV Land and Nick at Nite
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; On his intense academic experience in high school; on Harvard and Harvard Law 
On code breaking during World War II; on his first job after law school and getting out of the legal profession; on taking over his father's Drive-In theater business - National Amusement - the parent company of Viacom
On his accomplishments in theater exhibition - multiplexes; on being caught in a hotel fire in 1979; on aging; on National Amusement purchasing Viacom

Chapter 2

On Barry Diller and the Paramount battle; on getting out of cable operation and becoming the number one software-driven media company in the world
On Blockbuster and starting video-on-demand services; on MTV, UPN and CBS
On WWF; on acquiring BET; on working with John Malone and Rupert Murdoch

Chapter 3

On Rupert Murdoch and media moguls; on the social responsibility of television; on the role of government in broadcasting
On how the television business will change; on his philosophy for success; on discipline and commitment

Chapter 4

On digital television and challenging cable; on HDTV and fragmentation; on repurposing content
On his stake in the new media world; on "content is king;" on Broadband and wireless; on successful brands
On future plans; on how much his teachers influenced him and on teaching at Harvard; on media consolidation and social responsibility; on being a risk taker; on his accomplishments

Media Consolidation

View Topic
On the Paramount battle and Viacom becoming the number one software-driven media company in the world
Sumner Redstone on media consolidation

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Sumner Redstone on digital television and challenging cable; on HDTV and fragmentation

World War II

View Topic
Sumner Redstone on code breaking during World War II

Cable Executive

View Profession
Sumner Redstone on purchasing Viacaom

Barry Diller

View Person Page
Sumner Redstone on how he purchased Viacaom, by fighting Barry Diller and Paramount
Sumner Redstone on Barry Diller, the "Diller Sizzle," and the Paramount battle

Mel Karmazin

View Person Page
Sumner Redstone on CBS and CEO Mel Karmizan

John Malone

View Person Page
Sumner Redstone on negotiating with John Malone to buy BET

Rupert Murdoch

View Person Page
Sumner Redstone on working with Rupert Murdoch
Sumner Redstone on Rupert Murdoch and media moguls

All Interviews