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CBS director who recorded Sumner Redstone says he wasn't sneaking shots

Kopelson, who first met Redstone at a 2001 dinner party, said he and the media mogul became best friends and attended screening parties over the years

Jef Feeley | Bloomberg 

Sumner Redstone's (pictured) fortune became embroiled in a bitter feud when the 93-year-old's frail health sparked a legal battle between his daughter and Viacom's former CEO
A file photo of Viacom’s Sumner Redstone, who was allegedly videographed without his knowledge. Reuters

A CBS director accused of secretly recording Sumner says he wasn’t skulking around when he trained his on the ailing billionaire.

Arnold Kopelson, a movie producer and long-time pal of Redstone, said he often photographed the controlling shareholder of CBS and Viacom during their 17-year friendship. Kopelson’s video could be used to show Redstone’s mental state — and that’s made it a controversial piece of potential evidence in a corporate wrestling match over control of CBS.

“There was nothing secretive about this video recording at all,” said in a court filing in a Delaware lawsuit over the CBS fight. The producer said he recorded and a trio of his nurses during a January visit to his California mansion.

“All three nurses were well aware they were being recorded and they encouraged SR to try to communicate during the recording,” said in the filing, unsealed Friday.

Redstone’s family is reserving its rights “against and the other CBS parties for taking the video in the first instance without his consent and in violation of law,” said Sara Evans, a spokeswoman for Redstone’s company, National Amusements Kelli Raftery, a CBS spokeswoman, said her company declined to comment beyond public filings.

CBS’s board, led by Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves, say the 95-year-old Redstone’s health problems are so acute he’s “incapable of communicating his views” about a dilution plan designed to slash the family’s voting control from 79 per cent to 17 per cent.

Redstone is said to now communicate mostly through grunts and an iPad preprogrammed with his voice to say yes, no and a profanity.

CBS directors have pointed to Kopelson’s video to buttress their concerns about the billionaire’s ability to communicate. Kopelson, a film producer whose credits include Oscar winner “Platoon,” made the video to “memorialise Redstone’s physical state,” according to his affidavit.

‘Grievous invasion’

National Amusements officials noted in their court filings that Kopelson never explained why he was compelled to document Redstone’s health and recorded the billionaire in his California home without consent. They added that Shari Redstone, the billionaire’s daughter, was “furious” at the CBS director’s surreptitious recording, saying it amounted to a “grievous invasion of privacy and assault on her father’s dignity.”


Kopelson, who first met Redstone at a 2001 dinner party, said he and the media mogul became best friends and attended screening parties over the years.

First Published: Sat, August 11 2018. 20:33 IST
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