Yesterday's Tom Freston-kebabing powwow was an event the likes of which we rarely see, with the world's greatest media titans gathered beneath the roof of the Pierre Hotel in New York to toast their associate with a steady stream of laughter and uncensored ribaldry, interrupted only by the occasional jab at the lukewarm Cornish game hen taunting them blandly from a luncheon plate. We return now to Variety's coverage of the historic event, with a detailed account of how the crucial rook of Sumner Redstone's expertly plotted chessboard—Paramount head Brad Grey—told a group of executives about the strategy behind his savage capture of Tom Cruise's vulnerable queen:
Grey, who was speaking to a gathering of media and technology execs, said Par had considered two options when Cruise's producing pact came up for renewal.
The first was to "reduce the capital we were putting in so dramatically that it wouldn't have made sense for Tom to keep it," Grey said. Such a readjustment "would've changed the ceiling for all top talent deals."
The second option was not to reach an agreement. When it became clear, in late August, that the two parties would choose door No. 2, Redstone spilled the beans.
"Was it as elegant as I would've wanted it to be? No. Was it more personal? Yes," Grey said. "Sumner Redstone is Sumner Redstone. He's a maverick.
"Tom Cruise is my friend — my showbiz friend — and he is an extraordinary actor, and he will be wildly successful in the future," Grey said. "However, the economics have to make sense. You have to get value for the capital you're spending."
That's a good deal more than he's ever shared publicly about the incident, having until now offered only a sound-blip about how Paramount "should be defined by our pictures, not by our process." Clearly, some distance from the messy events—not to mention having survived the summer movie season with his neck intact—has freed Grey up to say what really was expressed in all those hushed tête-à-têtes, midnight board meetings, and countless paper-airplane-messages reading, "Let's shitcan that overpaid Martian!" that came sailing out from Redstone's office in the tense days leading up to the parting of the ways of the two longtime "showbiz friends."
- Tom toasted, Viacom roasted [Variety]