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Keryn Redstone to join legal battle along with Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman

Keryn Redstone to join legal battle along with Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman
The battle for control of Viacom flared up with the Sumner Redstone family working to line up prospective new board members. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Sumner Redstone's granddaughter Keryn Redstone said she was joining the high-level fight for control of media companies CBS and Viacom – on the opposite side of her famous family members.

Keryn Redstone said she was aligning with Viacom Inc. Chief Executive Philippe Dauman's legal battle against Sumner Redstone, 93, and his daughter, Shari Redstone, which is scheduled to begin to play out in a Massachusetts court on Tuesday.

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Sumner Redstone's side is expected to make a motion to move the legal proceedings to Los Angeles, where Sumner Redstone lives, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Keryn Redstone, in a statement, said she felt compelled to enter the latest legal fracas because she believes that her aunt is dictating the actions of her grandfather, whom she calls "Grumpy."

"Shari and her family have managed to totally isolate and effectively kidnap, brainwash and take advantage of my grandfather due to his debilitated state of mind and frail health," Keryn Redstone said.

Her entry into the fray is significant because it underscores tensions that exist within the Redstone family and helps explain why Sumner Redstone years ago established a seven-member trust to oversee his controlling stakes in the two media companies as a way to try to balance out the competing interests among his children and their children.

Keryn Redstone is the oldest of two daughters of Brent Redstone, Sumner and Phyllis Redstone's only son.  Brent Redstone sued his father and sister, Shari Redstone, a decade ago and ultimately relinquished his interest in the family investment vehicle, National Amusements Inc.  He received a $250-million settlement.

There has long been friction between Keryn Redstone and her aunt, Shari Redstone – and that tension has been magnified by the legal proceedings. Keryn Redstone was a regular visitor at her grandfather's Beverly Park home until last winter.

"The last time that I saw my grandfather was on Valentine's Day for 15 minutes," Keryn Redstone said Wednesday in a statement. "As he sat there lifeless and flanked by his nurses and caretakers, he seemed unaware of his surroundings."

The statement was released by Pierce O'Donnell, the Los Angeles litigator who also represents Redstone's former companion, Manuela Herzer.  Herzer and Keryn Redstone have been allies, united in their opposition to Shari Redstone, who now oversees Sumner Redstone's care.

Keryn Redstone unsuccessfully tried to join Herzer's petition earlier this year, but the judge in the Los Angeles case denied her request.

On May 20, an attorney for Sumner Redstone faxed a letter to Dauman, notifying him that he and another Viacom board member, George Abrams, were being removed from their influential roles on the Sumner Murray Redstone trust.  Last week, two allies of Shari Redstone were named to the trust that will oversee Sumner Redstone's holdings – shifting the balance of power.

Sumner Redstone's five grandchildren, including Keryn Redstone, are beneficiaries of the trust.

The Massachusetts legal action delves into whether Dauman and Abram's removal was valid, and Keryn Redstone said she would support that effort.  Dauman and Abrams were also removed from the board of National Amusements, which controls the nearly 80% of the voting stock in CBS and Viacom.

"I want to express my support for the Viacom directors who have tried to meet with my grandfather but have been denied access by Shari Redstone," Keryn Redstone said. "There is no way that a competent Sumner Redstone, acting with his own free will, would ever refuse to meet with his fellow directors who have been his close friends and allies and so loyal to him over many years."

It was unclear Wednesday whether Keryn Redstone's sister, another beneficiary of the trust, or her father would ultimately join the battle for control of the Redstone family's controlling shares in the companies.

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"For as long as I can remember, my grandfather had done everything that he could possibly think of to prevent Shari from having any type of control or power over his companies, whether public or private.  This was no secret to anyone," Keryn Redstone said.

I am therefore heartbroken and devastated to see this tragic turn of events in my grandfather’s life


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"I am therefore heartbroken and devastated to see this tragic turn of events in my grandfather's life," she said. "Not to put words in his mouth, but what his happening now would be his worst nightmare if he had even the slightest mental capacity or understanding of what Shari was doing to him."

A spokesperson for Shari Redstone was not immediately available for comment. A spokesman for Sumner Redstone declined to comment. A Viacom representative was not immediately available.

Meanwhile, Herzer's legal team has notified the court that they may request a new trial in the case over whether Sumner Redstone is mentally competent.  Last month, a Los Angeles judge halted the mental capacity trial after one day when the ailing mogul testified, by using profanities, that he wanted Herzer out of his life.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan, however, stopped short of determining that Sumner Redstone was mentally competent. The current legal wrangling is expected to delve into whether Redstone has the mental capacity to make complicated business decisions and whether he is under undue influence.

Should the case move back to Los Angeles, Cowan would oversee the proceedings.

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