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Film News

Redstone gave Viacom stock to "bi-curious" rocker

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Viacom Inc executive chairman Sumner Redstone gave the lead singer of a struggling female rock band some of his own company stock as a personal gift, according to a copy of the regulatory filing obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

A spokesman for Redstone declined to say why the 87-year-old mogul made the gift to 29-year-old Heather Naylor, who sold about $100,000 worth of Viacom stock in March.

Redstone has taken an unusual interest in Naylor’s band, the Electric Barbarellas, pressuring executives at Viacom’s MTV unit to create a reality show following the group’s attempt to break into the music business. Such a show is now in development despite the objection of MTV executives, who felt the band lacked talent.

“Anything that was done with this show was done in accordance with company policies,” a Viacom spokesman said.

Naylor’s Facebook page has been closed. Her Twitter account also has been canceled. Previously, according to a Twitter page cached on Google, she had tweeted about her love for George Clooney and about being “bi-curious.” She also queried: “Is it bad that I want to make sweet love to Bill Maher?”

According to a March 2 paper filing, Redstone gave Naylor 3,250 shares of Viacom’s nonvoting Class B common stock, which were to be sold for her benefit “ASAP.” Under the section “nature of acquisition transaction,” the filing lists the reason: “gift from Sumner Redstone.” The stock traded between about $29.65 and $34.38 in March. It closed on Monday at $33.55.

The regulatory filing may provide some comfort to shareholders and Viacom insiders who feared that stock options had been awarded to Naylor. Since Viacom has been tight with such options and has rules for awarding them, the disclosure that Naylor had sold a chunk of stock raised eyebrows within the company.

After the Daily Beast ran an account of Redstone’s interest in the band, the website posted audio of the Viacom boss’ message in which he threatened and cajoled the reporter to learn the identity of the source of the story. Redstone’s spokesman told The Hollywood Reporter that the mogul regrets making that call.

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