Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. Chairman Sumner Redstone was etched in entertainment history Friday when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The aging mogul’s family members and some of Hollywood’s most powerful executives were on hand to witness the tribute on Hollywood Boulevard, just outside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where the first Oscar ceremony was held.
Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman compared Redstone to Adolph Zukor, the visionary New York nickelodeon owner who became one of the first people to make big money in movies. It was Zukor who founded Paramount Pictures 100 years ago.
Redstone now controls Paramount, along with CBS television, MTV, BET, Comedy Central and children’s channel Nickelodeon.
“Sumner, like you, your star will be around for a long, long, long, long time,” Dauman said.
The 88-year-old Redstone, sitting next to the podium on a red-carpeted stage, halfheartedly shrugged.
One of the country’s richest men, Redstone began his career as a lawyer and then ran his father’s regional theater chain before going on to assemble one of the biggest media empires in the world. His companies have created popular movies, including “Forrest Gump” and “Mission Impossible,” and own TV networks that boast such well-known programs as “60 Minutes,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Late Show With David Letterman,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Dora the Explorer” and “Jersey Shore.”
On Friday, he seemed to be reflecting on the totality of his life, as well as the fragile nature of success.
“From my tenement in which I lived as a child, built on a cobblestone, dirty street in the west end of Boston … I am now successful. But I must tell you, though, that my global businesses at Viacom and CBS at times have been in peril,” Redstone said. “But now I find myself at this wonderful event. I want to thank everyone for this star. Thank you for this honor.”
Redstone then glanced over to his daughter Shari Redstone, who is vice chairman of both CBS and Viacom, despite periodic and public tussles with her father. She was accompanied by her three children and a grandchild. “It means a great deal to me that they are here to share this day and this event with me,” Redstone said.
With his star, he joins such historic Hollywood titans as Samuel Goldwyn, Jack Warner and Louis B. Mayer, as well as more contemporary executives Ted Turner and Michael Eisner.
Redstone, once a formidable tennis player, has been slowing down in recent years as mobility has become an issue, and at times Friday seemed a little unsteady on his feet. Though his companies are based in New York, Redstone lives above Beverly Hills.
Also in attendance were CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves and his wife, TV personality Julie Chen; Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey and Vice Chairman Rob Moore; Viacom Entertainment Group President Doug Herzog and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Dooley; Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami; and such notable movie producers as Brian Grazer, A.C. Lyles, Robert Evans and Arnold Kopelson.