Spectator Ego Is of Paramount Importance

The decision to spend billions to take over a company is seldom either strictly logical or strictly emotional. There are always spreadsheets to scrutinize, sure, but there's also that extra-rational accumulation of wishful hunches and adrenal instinct that makes people finally just go for it. Since show-business executives are uncommonly sensitive to go-for-it twitches, it would have been weird if a competing bidder had not stepped in to turn the friendly merger of Paramount Communications and Viacom into the high-strung, insanely complicated struggle it became last week. .

The collective id of the players was already breathtaking. Now comes Barry Diller...

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