"Within our company, through all sorts of different tentacles, we are all working together in a splendid way," then-CBS head Leslie Moonves said at the summer 2000 TV Critics Association press tour.
CBS also announced an MTV-produced Super Bowl halftime show, a Nick Jr.-branded Saturday kids' block, and TV movie co-productions with Showtime. Early examples of cross-company synergy that year included TV Land airing a week-long marathon of classic episodes of "The Fugitive" to promote CBS' revival of the franchise. VH1 was tapped to promote the Eye's new Bette Midler sitcom with a week of Midler-themed programming.
Then Redstone's National Amusements took control of the company in 1986, and he began an acquisitions spree that included Paramount Communications in 1994 and Blockbuster Video, which included Spelling Entertainment, in 1995. Ironically, Viacom's DNA has always come from CBS. The original Viacom was first created in the 1970s after the Justice Department forced CBS to sell off its syndication unit. Originally just a distribution company, Viacom began purchasing TV stations and then cable outlets (including MTV and Nickelodeon in 1984).
Viacom's stock performance was not to his liking and he saw few if any transformative acquisition properties on the horizon. By 2005, Redstone had become frustrated by the colossus he had created. Freston’s Viacom was supposed to grow more quickly without being encumbered by the more stable businesses given to Moonves. “Sometimes, divorce is better than marriage,” Redstone quipped in an interview at the time. So he proposed breaking Viacom into two companies, housing movie and cable-TV operations in a company led by Freston and broadcast TV, radio and outdoor advertising operations under Moonves. Redstone, in essence, would oversee a growth stock and a value stock.
Bumps in the synergistic road included that 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, produced for CBS by MTV. That event created an uproar after Justin Timberlake tore off part of Janet Jackson's clothes on camera, visibly showing her nipple for a brief second. But it didn't turn out that way. The resulting uproar included a record $550,000 fine for CBS by the FCC (although an appeals court eventually voided the fee) and beyond that led to a crackdown in on-air content, spurred by spike in content complaints and FCC fines across the board.
The CBS/Viacom merger was so big at the time that Senate antitrust subcommittee chairman Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) called the merger "a little scary."
In the corporate boardroom, the Viacom/CBS merger also led to more executive intrigue, as Moonves continued to amass more power and Redstone rather quickly soured on Karmazin.
When Viacom's Sumner Redstone and then-CBS president and CEO Mel Karmazin revealed the plan at a Sept. It's been nearly 20 years since Viacom and CBS first announced their intent to merge, in a $35 billion deal that was billed at the time as the biggest ever in showbiz. 7, 1999, press conference, the combined Viacom/CBS empire was valued at $80 billion.
Now, with CBS and Viacom about to renew their vows after all that drama and all these years later, some investors may wonder whether the company should have stuck it out under a single umbrella.” />
The two fought over Karmazin's tight-fisted Wall Street-oriented style, and whether or not the company was making enough big bets on future technology or blockbuster movies. But after CBS merged with Viacom, this feisty entrepreneur had a hard time working with Redstone. After four years of bickering over how best to manage the combined operations of Viacom and CBS, Karmazin ceded ground to Redstone. As Karmazin departed, Redstone gave more power to Moonves and Viacom's Tom Freston. Karmazin, a super salesman, had helped build up the Infinity Broadcasting radio chain and, subsequently, CBS Corp.
(At the time, part of Redstone's unhappiness came from Viacom failing to acquire MySpace, at the time the hottest social media property online.) His replacement, Phillipe Dauman, managed a more than 130% increase in Viacom shares, to almost $88 a share in early 2014, only to see the price as its cable assets continued to face viewership erosion. After the breakup, however, CBS proved to be a steady ship, while Viacom saw its shares stagnate as the company struggled to figure out how to adjust to the digital age — leading to Redstone's quick ouster of Freston in 2006.
Redstone called Viacom and CBS "natural partners." But in the early days of the merger, the outlook was rosy. That original merger would ultimately only last five years, as Redstone moved to split Viacom and CBS back into separate companies in 2005 — keeping his oversight over both, of course.
At CBS, Moonves, of course, was also eventually thrown out, but for very different reasons, when allegations of sexual assault forced his exit in 2018. In 2016, Dauman — who had been pursing a plan to sell nearly half of the Paramount studio — lost a power struggle with Shari Redstone and was ousted himself.
As part of the original plan, Redstone kept the chairman/CEO title over all of Viacom, with Karmazin in line as president and COO, and as Redstone's eventual replacement. But even at the time of the original merger, the question of the elder Redstone's advanced age — he was 76 — was a topic of concern, which is why a succession plan was discussed. Redstone is now incapacitated, his empire in the hands of his daughter, Shari Redstone, who is guiding CBS and Viacom back together. The guy is brilliant. We're kindred spirits." Of course, Karmazin was eventually pushed out by Redstone. But at the time, Redstone said, "I insisted (Mel) come with the deal.
The deal was seen as complimentary: CBS was mostly in broadcast (both TV and radio), while Viacom's strengths were in film and cable TV. The Viacom acquisition came nearly five years after Westinghouse paid $5.4 billion for CBS in 1995. In acquiring CBS, Redstone touted the ability to advertise and cross-promote Paramount and Viacom content across CBS' TV and radio stations, as well as outdoor billboards.
Among the chief concerns: That CBS/Viacom would own two broadcast networks, as Viacom was simultaneously buying out its 50/50 partnership with Chris-Craft to become sole owner of weblet UPN. Viacom threatened to shut down UPN if it couldn't keep the small network in the merger, and regulators ultimately allowed the company to keep it along with CBS.
The first real test of the power of the combined company came soon after, when "Survivor" premiered to stunning ratings — and Redstone credited the merged company's increased footprint for helping promote the show. Because it oversees broadcast licenses, the FCC was the final step in blessing Viacom/CBS, which it did on May 3, 2000. Speaking soon after the merger was made official, Redstone proclaimed that the combo of "our incredibly complementary operations" would make "Viacom the preeminent success story of the media industry for many decades to come."

The band asked him to produce their sophomore album, the aptly named “Pretty Odd.” At the time, the group was listening to “Yellow Submarine” and the over-the-top instrumentation struck a chord with their theatrical sensibility. “On ‘Pretty Odd’ we used trumpets, harpsichord and a flugelhorn,” Mathes says. From that moment on, it was a musical marriage made in, well, perfect harmony.
"The second is nostalgia: For Urie, the use of trumpet and strings is a throwback to the Beatles’ ‘Revolver'/'Sgt. Katherine Dacey, associate professor of liberal arts at Boston's Berklee College of Music, explains that the trumpet serves two functions. By blending these older sounds with newer, digitally produced ones, Urie is bringing the Beatles' songcraft into the 21st century.” Pepper’ era. "The first is novelty: in an industry dominated by digital sounds, any song that uses an acoustic instrument will stand out," says Dacey. It’s an element that has made the group’s sound stand out.
Pictured, from left: Erm Navarro, Jesse Molloy and Chris Bautista
Says Mathes: “When you hear the high trumpet stuff on two major hits, you would think: ‘Wow, this is clearly something for them.’” No wonder that elements of the sound carried over to the hit Urie sings with and co-wrote with Swift… which is to say, "Me!'s" so horny, too. The instantly recognizable piccolo trumpet popped up again on the band’s latest hit, “High Hopes,” which has not only moved over 2 million adjusted units but also broke a decades-old radio record.
Even more impressive is the consistency with which Panic! I got the sense that they were musical explorers, and just doing strings was not going to cut it. “The first thing I did for [Panic] was ‘This is Halloween' off of ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas,’ a tribute [album] to the Tim Burton movie,” says Mathes. So I intentionally used a contra bassoon — which is a double bassoon that can go almost as low as a piano — and I won the band’s trust forever.” has used brass instruments. “We shared a manager, Jonathan Daniel at Crush Management. [PATD founder] Ryan Ross wanted to do something different and Jonathan said, ‘I know somebody who can orchestrate this for you and [record] it with a real orchestra,’ and they were into it. According to the band's chief arranger Rob Mathes, they first started experimenting with the sound in 2006.
And that makes them last longer.” Some of the best songs through history are the ones that don’t follow a formula, but work in unexpected ways. at the Disco’s appeal is that they stand out,” says Tom Poleman, chief programming officer for iHeartMedia, which has embraced the band on multiple formats including pop and alternative. “Part of Panic! It’s not often to have a hit song with trumpets, but they manage to pull it off in a way that fits on the radio. “It starts, of course, with the songwriting and Brendon’s voice, but it's also largely because of the production and instrumentation.
It's great to hear it again on the radio in a fresh context.” “I’m struck by the use of the piccolo trumpet in ‘High Hopes,’ where it both doubles Brendon Urie's voice and ‘answers’ his vocal lines,” adds Dacey. “That kind of call-and-response between the voice and brass section was a signature element of funk, soul and R&B in the ‘60s and ‘70s but faded out in the ‘80s with the rise of digital synthesizers.
Everyone knew that song was going to be the single — it just demanded a kind of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ approach, and everyone loves that piccolo trumpet on ‘Penny Lane.’ It’s one of the greatest sounds in rock history, and yet not a lot of people have gone near it, because why would you touch it? “In particular, on the record ‘Nine in the Afternoon,’ they wanted to go full-on [Beach Boys songwriter] Brian Wilson/Beatles,” Mathes recalls. That sound, along with that of concurrent Beach Boys albums like the iconic “Pet Sounds,” is exactly what the group was going for. at the Disco discovered the ‘60s, but it’s still uniquely them. If you go back and listen to ‘Pretty Odd,’ it does sound like Panic! “But their own writing was peculiar enough that it wasn’t going to sound like pastiche. I decided to use it in the orchestration but in an anthemic way — playing out a melody at the very top of the range.”
Consider last year's ubiquitous one-two punch of "High Hopes" and "Say Amen (Saturday Night)" as the most recent examples of effective use of horns, but the band's love affair with trumpets goes back more than a decade to 2008's "Nine in the Afternoon." Much has been written about Taylor Swift's choice to share her new single "Me!" with Panic! At the Disco's Brendon Urie (the two perform the song on tonight's season finale of "The Voice"), but perhaps not as much attention has been paid to the tried-and-true formula that has helped land Panic! multiple hit songs: trumpets.
“What Panic! Bringing a brass band and full orchestra on tour, however, is a bridge too far. has discovered is that there is some sort of timeless power to real instruments. Brendon was never going to go out on tour and just have that stuff on [pre-recorded] track — he wants to create a joyous musical circus.”” /> “When they tour, I pared the arrangements down to a string trio and a three-piece horn section,” says Mathes.