Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sumner Redstone's Driver: I Delivered $1 Million in Cash to Women

by Tim Jensen

Sumner Redstone, 92, has skipped recent Viacom and CBS shareholder meetings and is said to be in declining health, prompting investors and media to focus recently on succession issues at the executive chairman's two media companies, as well as the largely unknown influence of girlfriend Sydney Holland, 43, in his life and business.

My name is Tim Jensen, and this is my story of a most unusual job.

In February 2011, Paramount Pictures asked me if I could fill in for a week as a driver for Sumner Redstone, the executive chairman of Viacom and CBS Corp. I'd had experience driving Hollywood talent and had a good reputation, and I accepted the position from the Paramount transportation planner.

Prior to starting the job, I met with Redstone's regular driver to learn the routine. My initial instructions were pretty basic: a tour of the restaurants that Redstone frequented and ordered out from, the locations of his physicians' offices, the Westwood theater location where Redstone was to make a red-carpet appearance at a movie premiere.

Finally, I was given some instructions regarding his daily life and my tasks. The regular driver outlined in minimum detail some of the people in Redstone's world. First, there was his ex-wife Paula. Second, there was a woman who was referred to as his "number-one girl," whose name I am excluding. Lastly, he mentioned the name Sydney, a woman about whom I would later learn a great deal more. However, at that point, I was only made aware that she was someone in Redstone's life.

I also was told by his regular driver that, during my week of employment, I might be required to cash some checks and deliver money to a few people. I was surprised because I had never been asked to perform that task as a studio driver. I knew Redstone was the head of Viacom, so I figured people at its Paramount division knew that an employee was being asked to do this.

My week of employment began on a Monday morning after picking up from Paramount a custom Lincoln Town Car that contained a satellite television, along with interior video monitors. When I arrived at the gated Beverly Park Terrace residence, I was informed by a staff member at the house that I would be taking both Redstone and Sydney Holland (picture above right, with Redstone and his companion, Manuela Herzer) to his dentist appointment. However, the staff member first gave me a check with "Beverly Park LLC" in the top corner made out for several thousand dollars that was to be cashed at a Bank of America branch in Beverly Hills and the money brought back to the house. I proceeded to the bank and returned to the house with the cash envelope.

Read the rest here.

(RW note: A million dollars is pocket change to Redstone.)

1 comment:

  1. Just wondering: I care what Sumner Redstone does because ... ?