Just in case you haven't yet had your fill of stories about the backbiting between Paramount emperor Brad Grey and the sneaky studio usurpers crouching not-so-quietly inside the DreamWorks Trojan Horse he bought a year ago, the LA Weekly's Nikki Finke reports that skeletal Viacom executive presence Sumner Redstone may have signed Grey's death certificate by letting slip at a cozy power-player dinner party a rather impolitic comment about why Dreamgirls found itself without a Best Picture nomination. Clasping your hand to your mouth while trying to suppress an outraged "Oh. No. He. Did. Int!" is completely optional as you read on:
Sumner told the gathering that Brad told him that the reason Dreamgirls wasn't nominated for an Oscar was because "everyone hates David." As in Geffen, the producer of Dreamgirls. "Does Brad have a death wish?" an insider asked rhetorically this morning. Indeed, few have taken on David Geffen and lived to tell the tale. (Just ask Robert Towne, John Branca and Mike Ovitz.) That the Viacom boss would be so indiscreet in such a public setting defies belief. To be fair, Grey made his comment in a private setting.
While the indiscretion of letting such a comment slip does seem careless on the surface, the immortal Redstone didn't scratch his way to the top of the industry over a four-hundred year career by not being a shrewdly calculating operator; a more plausible explanation is that Redstone has had a change of heart since impulsively giving Grey a lifetime appointment to his Paramount job, and rather than go back on his word, took the more passive approach of airing his underling's potentially fatal anti-Geffen grievances, hoping to wake up to a grisly front page story in Variety about how his studio chief mysteriously choked to death on a Dreamgirls Academy screener the night before the Oscars.
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