The Lion In Sumner

Sumner Redstone reasserts his passion for risk--and his authority--at Viacom, and chases away another CEO-in-waiting

Executives at the MTV networks stood and roared their approval at a budget meeting last November when Sumner Redstone, chairman and CEO of parent company Viacom, pledged $30 million of corporate cash to launch Logo, a gay channel that the MTV brass had regarded as a top priority. Under Viacom president and heir apparent Mel Karmazin, the channel had been delayed. But at this meeting, attended by Karmazin, Redstone openly said to MTV chief Tom Freston, "You want to do it? You have the money." Karmazin was silent. "It was a dramatic moment," Freston recalls. "All of a sudden, we got...