You will not find many people with less sympathy for Sumner Redstone,the insanely egomaniacal, right-wing head of Viacom. That’s why it’s ashame that in order to “get” him, Portfolio published such an amateurishhatchet job on the guy by ex-gossip writer, Lloyd Grove, here. I tell my students there’s a simple rule for how toidentify a crappy hatchet-job from a more skillful one; does it containblind negative quotes that do not contain any facts that were obtainableon the record. Look what Grove lets his sources get away with,shamelessly, and quite early in the piece: “A prominent talent agenttrashes Redstone as “the most disliked man in Hollywood.” A formerViacom executive calls him “a scumbag,” while another claims he’s “themost egocentric human being you could ever run across.”
The rest of it is what you would expect from a gossipeuse: heavy ontitillation about Redstone’s marriage and the decorations in his house;nothing at all about the questions should a piece might raise about themanner in which the most powerful titans of media business go aboutdoing their business. Compare to Michael Wolff’s reporting on RupertMurdoch in Vanity Fair–which is no less gossipy–well, compared toalmost anything, it stinks. But it’s also too bad, because Redstonecooperated with the reporter and now the chance to explore these issueswith him in a smart, hard-headed fashion will forever be lost. …
Name: Pete Axelrod
Hometown: Brisbane, Qld Australia
My late father George Axelrod wrote the screenplay for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and was reasonably happy with the result except for the casting of Mickey Rooney which he found appalling. That and Manchurian Candidate, in my view were his two best films.
Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA
“Now my friends/What’s gone down behind/No more rain/From where wecame.” Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click–“Lover Come Back To Me” (CassandraWilson)–I refuse to negotiate a ceasefire with anyone who doubtshow much I love New Orleans.