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Fred Seibert's Blog

Tom Freston.

September 5th, 2006

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I looked for a picture of Tom Freston smiling, since it’s the state one would most often find him. But he takes his job seriously, so most often the pictures you find are him with a very earnest expression. He’s been tops in the media culture for almost 30 years, but has always kept his kindness, his people, and his mission, front and center.

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The reason I mention this is that Tom resigned his positions at Viacom today after 26 years with the company. And the reason I mention that is without Tom Freston I would have no career and no Frederator. Tom and I started together at MTV Networks together in the spring of 1980 and served together at the dawn of MTV: Music Television. When I left to form my consulting/ad agency/production company in 1983 Tom was my client and great supporter. He kept in touch during my years at Hanna-Barbera and then asked me to come back to work with his teams at the end of the 90s.

Tom was a one of a kind of leader. A man who only got better in each succeeding job, he not only kept the profits humming, but, against all odds, kept a unique culture alive in what was essentially a creative company. Since we focus on cartoons here, just look at his tenure: Liquid Television, Beavis & Butthead, Ren & Stimpy, Rugrats, Spongebob Square Pants, South Park, and of course all of our stuff. That’s just in one area of entertainment. He willed Comedy Central into being, he supported Logo, MTVN’s gay & lesbian network, long after the politics shifted against it, and because of his vision MTV is the world’s most distributed television channel in more than 27 different countries.
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Thanks for a great ride Tom. We’ll all miss you.

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I am shocked at this news. I only met Tom once (Herb brought him into my office at Nick to introduce me. I think Herb was touring him around Nick and introducing him to the Nick Movie staff, around the time Tom took over MTV Networks in the mid-1990s). I always felt he was one of those rare “right guys in the right place at the right time”. Most people outside of MTV, Nick and Paramount won’t immediately realize what a loss this is. Great companies have great visionary leadership at the top. Tom Freston was one of those leaders. I predict we haven’t heard the last of him.

 
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