[imagesource: Todd Williamson / AP Images]
The third season of Succession is finally upon us.
Episode one was met with rave reviews, but I can’t help but be disappointed that we’re only getting one episode per week.
It’s 2021, man. We binge things and then deal with the regret later.
As the show steadily rose to become an international smash hit, the similarities between the Roy family and the Murdoch family have been well documented.
They are so striking that many, ourselves included, have stated that Succession is based on the Murdochs.
Brian Cox plays Logan Roy, the family patriarch, and his children jostle for power and control, much like Rupert Murdoch’s children have done.
However, there is another name worth throwing in the hat – the Redstones, an American media dynasty with a dramatic backstory of their own, which was previously spearheaded by the now-deceased Sumner Redstone.
He died last year at the age of 97, having amassed a personal fortune of around $3 billion thanks to his entertainment empire.
As The Telegraph points out, Sumner’s relationship with his children was a rollercoaster, with many battles playing out in court:
The patriarch was a brilliant dealmaker who publicly stated that he was immortal, had a reputation as a womaniser, and was so powerful and impulsive that he could sack the world’s biggest movie stars without batting an eyelid. And, like Logan Roy, he was torn between love for his family and love for the empire he’d created.
Here’s the real kicker – the connection has been confirmed by Succession’s creator, Jesse Armstrong:
“I did a lot of reading about a lot of different figures like [Logan Roy]. Ones who come to mind in the UK are Maxwell and the Rothermeres,” Armstrong told Start the Week on BBC Radio 4.
“But in the US, Sumner Redstone who ran Paramount and CBS [was one]. And of course the Disneys and the Mercers. There are a lot of these dynasties around. The Murdochs are very vivid but they’re not the model.”
Armstrong clearly drew on a number of inspirations for the Roy family, with Sumner among those.
The deceased billionaire was almost killed by a fire in 1979, which left him so badly burnt that he wasn’t expected to survive.
He required 60 hours of surgery, had to learn to walk again, and had visible physical scars for the remainder of his life.
Logan Roy also has scars on his back, although those are as a result of abuse from his uncle during his younger years.
Redstone, it should be said, was a man of eccentric habits. He once claimed that he shaved in the nude in his hot tub, had his staff clip his toenails and he put his good health down to eating goji berries and drinking a shot of vodka every night.
In the last few years of his life, when he could barely speak, he reportedly communicated via an iPad programmed with three phrases – “yes”, “no”, and “f— you”.
He was impulsive, too. In 2006 Redstone severed Paramount’s relationship with Tom Cruise after the actor infamously jumped over Oprah Winfrey’s sofa. And it was alleged in court documents that he once gave $18m to a flight attendant on a private jet – then slept with her sister and gave another $6m to her.
Logan Roy is starting to look pretty levelheaded in comparison.
In his later years, there was huge media speculation around who would take over the family empire from Sumner.
It appeared to be a done deal, but then there was a twit:
In 2006, Redstone split his conglomerate into two distinct companies – Viacom and CBS – while retaining control of both. As part of the split he installed key lieutenants, who were non-family members, to run the divisions.
In a Logan Roy-esque turn [Logan is below right], articles appeared in newspapers in 2006 stating that Redstone was reconsidering [his daughter] Shari’s role. Observers now assumed that Redstone’s lieutenants were his heirs apparent.
Redstone’s son Brent, meanwhile, sued him in a bid to release funds from his holding in the family business (they settled and Brent gave up his seat on the board).
Eventually, Sumner publicly criticised Shari in a stinging rebuke published in Forbes.
Sumner’s mental capacity to make decisions, much like that of Logan, was questioned in his later years, leading to some disputes around certain aspects of his will and trust.
Suffice to say, the similarities between the two men, and the two families, on the whole, are striking.
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