It was less than two months ago that ex-Viacom president and CEO Tom Freston exited the company, forcefully nudged out the doors by a doggedly determined Sumner Redstone applying steady pressure to the joystick of his luxuriously appointed mobility scooter. Yesterday, some of Freston's greatest allies gathered to pay irreverent homage to their fallen (if you call a $59 million severance package "falling") idol with one of those outrageous "roasts" those kids who run 99.7% of the world's mass media love so much:
"I don't think there's anyone in this room today who feels Tom was treated fairly," News Corp. President Peter Chernin told a crowd that included media and entertainment bigs like Rupert Murdoch, Edgar Bronfman Jr., Doug Morris, Harvey Weinstein, Ahmet Ertegun and John Sykes. "There's no doubt in my mind that Tom's continued success will haunt Viacom for years to come."
Pause. "But enough about Tom Cruise," said Chernin, firing up the rotisserie. "We're here to talk about Tom Freston, and Tom Freston is an a-hole. ... How can you roast someone who's already toast?
"I can only imagine how tough it must have been for Tom to be screwed over by a guy [Redstone] so old that he had to take a little blue pill to do it."
Making note of Freston's corporate rival Les Moonves (who made nice with Freston at the lunch), Chernin added that MTV, the network Freston founded, "now officially stands for 'Moonves Takes Viacom.'"
Whoever writes Chernin's material, a tip of the hat: sounds like he killed. (By contrast, we don't know how Stephen Colbert's Spongebob Squarepants/cheese grater joke went over, but on paper...yeesh.) And while we have no doubt that Les Moonves will have his revenge—we all know he can't resist a good, public flogging—for now, he'll have to put the exact wording and venue of his inevitable verbal takedown on the backburner, and return to his regularly scheduled duties of applying massage oils to the Stegosaurus-like ridges of Redstone's back whilst whispering Iagoesque consultations into his corporate overlord's ear.