Ousted Viacom CEO Tom Freston got a spontaneous send-off and standing ovation by company employees and executives Thursday as he exited the company’s headquarters at 1515 Broadway in New York.
About 3:45 p.m. (EST) Thursday, an e-mail went out to some Viacom employees saying that Freston was on his way out of the headquarters, and “word spread like wildfire,” one worker said. Within minutes, hundreds -- some MTV Networks folks claimed as many as 2,500 -- Viacom workers poured into the building’s lobby, packing it to near capacity.
“It was so moving,” one observer said. “It was very emotional.”
When Freston exited from an elevator, he was met with cheers; chants of “Tom, Tom”; flashing cell phones; and applause that lasted 15-20 minutes, according to several MTVN employees who were present.
“It could have been like Bono was there,” another witness said.
The crowd included MTVN CEO Judy McGrath, Nickelodeon president Cyma Zarghami, former Comedy Central chief Larry Divney and MTVN president of network development John Sykes.
Freston, offering his goodbyes to well-wishers, went down the escalator to the building’s 45th Street exit, waved and got into a car.
While a report on Gawker.com (gawker.com/news/tom-freston/tom-freston-has-left-the-building-199214.php) said tears were rolling down Freston’s face, one MTVN staffer said, “He went out as cool as he went in.”