Jewish World Review Nov. 5, 2001 / 19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Sumner Redstone's passions -- SUMNER REDSTONE, the energetic seventy-something head of Viacom, Paramount, MTV, CBS, and Nickelodeon breezed California this summer, plugging his new book, PASSION TO WIN.

I haven't read it, but I assume it's another in the endless series of books either ghost-written for or written by on-the-go businessmen that are part autobiography, part boasting, and part "how-to" book.

Like, how he parlayed his first million into a hundred million, and you can too-- if you have a PASSION TO WIN! Like I said, have not cracked that binding.

But I would venture to suggest that among books written by corporate dynamos, modesty is not an over-dominating factor.

I read Trump's book, or one of them, and Lee Iacocca's book, or one of them, and all I remember is a swirl of cars and helicopters and forceful phone calls, intermingled with bland anecdotes about people I've never heard of, and the skimpy outlines of how the author shrewdly outmaneuvered other people I've never heard of, thanks to a PASSION TO WIN!

I don't know much, but I'll bet there aren't many CEOs out there with a PASSION TO LOSE! Losing is not in their vocabulary. Show them a good loser, they'll show you a loser.

So I was in Blockbuster the other day, looking to rent a tepid thriller to while away a night, when I noticed that Mr. Redstone's book was on prominent display at the front counter, right next to a stack of OH BROTHER WHERE ARE THOU? DVDs. Why was it there, I wondered. Could you rent his book? Was it a special edition of PASSION TO WIN, the director's cut, with outtakes, and backstage interviews with the cast and crew? Then I remembered-- Sumner Redstone is head of Blockbuster as well.

Picking up the book, I noticed that it was published by Simon and Shuster. Say, isn't that part of Mr. Redstone's stable as well? Why, yes it is. I wonder if he was offered a healthy advance by himself. Will PASSION TO WIN show up as a mini-series on CBS, maybe a reality-based game show?

Contestants are given a million dollars, which they must parlay into a hundred million before the clock runs out, or lose it all. Maybe it will show up on Nickolodeon as an animated series, right after SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, maybe Carson Daley will be shown leafing through it on TRL.

PASSION TO WIN: the movie, with Robert De Niro. Yes sir, I haven't read the book, but it's easy to see that Sumner Redstone does indeed have a passion to win.

But then, winning is easy, if you hold all the cards.

JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Ian Shoales