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Editorial: The Tao of Dauman

This will be a big week in the soap opera known as The Family Redstone. Tuesday, a Boston court will hear arguments in the lawsuit between Viacom and CBS controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone, 93, and Viacom CEO and former longtime confidant Philippe Dauman.

The TV world has a close eye on the saga. The father/son-esque bond between Redstone and Dauman has deteriorated to the point that Redstone removed the CEO from the trust that will control the company after Redstone’s death. With daughter Shari and other relatives on either side of the ugly rift, rumors swirl about who else but Dauman could wind up running Viacom.

Some key stats from the Dauman Dynasty: In fiscal 2015, his compensation was $54.2 million, up 22% from 2014 and among the richest in corporate America, in a year when Viacom stock plummeted 43%. Dauman presided over endless cost cuts and questionable calls on Comedy Central’s talent pool, strategic direction at MTV and Nickelodeon, stagnation at Paramount Pictures and an overall brain drain. Most noteworthy Viacom execs of recent vintage have the word “former” in their titles.

We’re not taking sides in the family squabble (for one thing, who has time to read all those medical documents?) but a recent revival in the stock price echoes our appetite for top-down change.