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ONE GIANT STEP-BUT WHERE?

MEGAFORCES PARAMOUNT AND VIACOM MOVE INTO UNKNOWN TERRITORY

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Will Beavis and Butt-head beam aboard the Starship Enterprise? (Cool!) Will MTV VJ Duff start hanging out in the locker room of the New York Knicks? (Hot!) Will the Addams Family adopt Nickelodeon’s Ren and Stimpy? (Carumba!) Well, maybe they won’t, but such odd couplings are now at least possible under the corporate marriage announced last week between Viacom Inc. (the entertainment conglomerate that owns MTV, VH-1, Nickelodeon, Showtime, the Movie Channel, syndication rights to Roseanne and The Cosby Show, and five TV stations) and Paramount Communications (Paramount Pictures, Simon & Schuster, Madison Square Garden, the New York Knickerbockers and New York Rangers, and seven TV stations). Viacom is paying $8.2 billion in stock and cash to lure Paramount to the altar. Barring the sudden appearance of a rival suitor, the new Paramount Viacom International will rank as the world’s fifth-largest entertainment-media company, with annual revenues of $6.1 billion. But what does it all mean? Here’s EW’s take on how the major players will be affected: *Sumner Redstone: While Paramount’s name gets first billing in the new * company, Viacom’s cagey chairman has won firm control of the partnership. Holding nearly 70 percent of the voting stock, Redstone, 70, will serve as chairman while Paramount’s movies and TV shows pump up his cable networks. *Martin Davis: Faced with the challenge of either buying another company or being bought by one, Paramount’s whip-cracking chairman (who tried to purchase Time Inc. in 1989) has finally been able to drive his company into the haven of cable TV, allowing it to deliver its films and TV programs directly to entertainment-hungry viewers. But Davis, 66, lost the control battle to Redstone-negotiations broke down several times over the issue. As CEO of the new company, taskmaster Davis will have to report to Redstone, and while they look like giddy newlyweds now, their honeymoon will probably be brief. *Frank Biondi and Stanley Jaffe: They both look like winners at the moment, but watch for a rumble between Viacom’s super-smooth CEO Biondi, 48, and Paramount’s brusque COO Jaffe, 53, as they fight for the new company’s No. 3 spot, and control once Redstone and Davis are gone. While not counting out the pugnacious Jaffe, Hollywood handicappers think the cooler Biondi will prevail. u Barry Diller and John Malone: Foxy chairman of the QVC shopping network, Diller, 51, was thought to be plotting a hostile takeover of Paramount with Tele-Communications Inc. cable czar Malone, 52. If they still want to wage a nasty battle, it will now cost them an extra $168 million to neutralize the poison-pill provision that Paramount Viacom has put in place. *Beavis and Butt-head: MTV was about to sell the movie rights to Warner Bros. Now the project goes to Paramount Pictures, where it’s guaranteed priority status and, eventually, nonstop MTV promotion. (Cool!)

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