Bob Bakish Exit: Shock Ripples Through CBS’ WHCD Party As Paramount CEO Set To Depart – “Who Knows What’s Next?”

TV

Confusion and anxiety reigned at a CBS-Politico joint party today ahead of the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, with staffers shocked at news that Bob Bakish, CEO of parent Paramount Global, is set to exit abruptly as early as Monday morning.

There have been rumblings about Bakish for days as the company enters the final stretch of exclusive merger negotiations with David Ellison’s Skydance. But his imminent departure triggered a wave of anxious speculation tonight in Washington, D.C. Ellison has always been mostly interested in the movie studio and historic lot. Although it seems Skydance does plan to keep the company intact, at least for a time, network folks aren’t betting on it and felt uncertain about the future of CBS, and about who might be running Paramount Global in a few short days — a troika of top execs, a new chief executive?

“We knew changes were coming, but no one expected Bob to go so fast. Who knows what’s next?” a Paramount Global executive told Deadline at the party. Staffers speculated on CBS being sold, on it being turned over to Jeff Zucker to run, and other theories. The former CNN chief heads up a joint venture between RedBird Capital, one of Skydance’s backers, and an Emirati investment fund.

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is also a big Skydane investor and key to any deal. A few from CBS at the party expressed some apprehension at the billionaire’s ties with Donald Trump. (According to reports, he was backing Tim Scott has not donated to the Republican presidential candidate this campaign cycle. David Ellison just gave nearly $1 million to Joe Biden).

Shari Redstone, who controls Paramount though her family holding company NAI, put Bakish in charge of a combined ViacomCBS in 2019. Bakish is said to be less than supportive of the Skydance deal, according to sources.

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