Viacom’s frisky chairman, Sumner Redstone, is forcing MTV to produce a show about a sexy but talentless all-girl band. Peter Lauria on how the Electric Barbarellas may drive out his CEO….
For the famously frisky Redstone, gorgeous, much younger companions are nothing new. In February, TMZ.com caught the red-headed billionaire leaving Il Piccolino restaurant in West Hollywood with Christine Peters, the ex of movie producer Jon Peters. Last year, after divorcing his second wife, Paula Fortunato, herself Redstone’s junior by four decades, the ogling octogenarian made the scene with ex-girlfriend Manuela Herzer. During a Q&A session moderated by Larry King, at a Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Redstone repeatedly, and rather embarrassingly, asked female inquisitors if they were married before answering their queries. A Los Angeles Times report added that after the interview Redstone “bantered” with one young woman, who said he had “more energy” than any man she knows….
But now Redstone is taking his dirty old man act a bit too far. The Daily Beast has learned that Redstone is so smitten with a scantily clad new all-girl group dubbed the Electric Barbarellas that he has paid to fly its six members out to New York to meet with record labels—and forced MTV to shoot a pilot for a reality-TV series about the group that he wants the network to air. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the show and music are so bad that MTV Networks executives, including CEO Judy McGrath, object to it—and Redstone’s insistence that they develop the project anyway may soon lead to her departure.
Shot in documentary format, the show follows the Electric Barbarellas as they shop their demo tape around in the hopes of landing a record deal. The group is led by a singer-songwriter named Claudia, who is described by a source as a “female Diddy” that tried out roughly 700 girls before deciding on the five in addition to herself that make up the band. Sources said to think of the group as a cross between the Pussycat Dolls and Spice Girls, except raunchier and not as musically gifted, if that’s possible.