Remaindered At S&Sby
Firings aren't gracious affairs. And Viacom Inc.'s peremptory dismissal of Richard E. Snyder on June 14 was no exception. A senior Viacom executive says Simon & Schuster Inc.'s headstrong chairman simply didn't fit into the team being assembled by Viacom Chairman Sumner M. Redstone since he acquired the publisher's parent, Paramount Communications Inc.
But when author and Snyder loyalist Bob Woodward called Redstone to complain about the sacking, he says Redstone distanced himself from it--saying it was the "agenda" of Viacom President Frank J. Biondi Jr. Redstone didn't return a call seeking comment.
One can understand Viacom's awkwardness. How do you mollify a writer such as Woodward, who has developed ties to Sny-
der that span two decades? Indeed, as rival publishers sift through the fallout from Snyder's stunning ouster, several say Simon & Schuster's trade publishing division--with its stable of celebrity authors--may suffer the most harm.
WHO? Snyder's replacement, Simon & Schuster Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Newcomb, made his name as a competent administrator rather than a visionary publisher. Among his accomplishments: the surprisingly smooth integration of Macmillan Inc. into Simon & Schuster. Paramount acquired Macmillan for $553 million last November. But two well-known Simon & Schuster authors say they have had no contact with Newcomb, and even a top editor there says she has dealt with him only rarely.
Newcomb promises a higher profile: "I'll have more personal relationships with creative people in the industry." But otherwise, he plans to continue Snyder's strategy of overseas expansion and technological innovation. Given how Simon & Schuster has changed in the past decade, Viacom may not view Newcomb's background as much of a handicap. Only 23% of the company's $2 billion in revenue comes from consumer publishing. Bob Woodward may be crying foul. But his is a shrinking voice in Viacom's growing empire.