The Globe and Mail
The corporate drama at Rogers Communications Inc. has often been compared to HBO’s acclaimed television drama Succession.
Now, the lines between reality and fiction are blurring. Over the holidays, Edward Rogers, the chair and controlling shareholder of Rogers Communications, received a paid message from Brian Cox, the actor who portrays Succession’s lead character, ruthless media mogul Logan Roy.
The message was recorded through the video platform Cameo, which allows fans to buy personalized greetings and provide detailed instructions to the celebrities recording them.
The 19-second video clip was obtained by The Globe and Mail, but is also accessible to the website’s users. In it, Mr. Cox congratulates Mr. Rogers on his “real-life Succession” at Rogers, referring to a weeks-long boardroom battle that pitted Mr. Rogers against his mother and two of his sisters, reshaped the company’s board and resulted in the departure of chief executive officer Joe Natale last November. The conflict erupted as Rogers awaits regulatory approval for its $26-billion takeover of Calgary-based Shaw Communications Inc.
“Edward. This is from Suzanne,” Mr. Cox begins, apparently referring to Mr. Rogers’s wife. “Congratulations on your real-life Succession at Rogers Communications. And also, having Joe Natale to fuck the fuck off,” he adds, flashing a quick thumbs up. “Well done, Edward. Congratulations.”
The Roy family patriarch portrayed by Mr. Cox is famous for using profanity. The show depicts three of the Roy family children – Kendall, Siobhan and Roman – fighting for control of their aging father’s empire.
Mr. Cox charges $875 for the messages.
Jonathan Lowenstein, a spokesperson for Mr. Rogers, said in an e-mail that “the video was shared with Edward as a practical joke.”
Spokespeople for Rogers Communications and Mr. Natale declined to comment. Rogers family matriarch Loretta Rogers and her daughters, Martha Rogers and Melinda Rogers-Hixon, also declined to comment.
There have been a number of changes in the company’s upper ranks since the battle that split one of Canada’s wealthiest families, which controls the telecom and media giant.
The power struggle broke out when Mr. Rogers attempted to replace Mr. Natale with chief financial officer Tony Staffieri in late September. Mr. Natale learned of the plan through an inadvertent phone call, during which he overheard Mr. Staffieri discussing the matter with the company’s former chief legal officer, David Miller.
Mr. Rogers met opposition from the company’s board and moved to replace five independent directors who had opposed him without a shareholders’ meeting. The company challenged the legality of the move, but a B.C. court judge deemed it valid.
Mr. Staffieri was made president and CEO of the Toronto-based telecom on Monday, after serving in the role on an interim basis since mid-November. At least three executives have left the company since Mr. Staffieri first took the helm, including Dave Fuller, head of the wireless division.
Company director Robert Dépatie, meanwhile, left the board to become president and chief operating officer of the home and business division.
Martha Rogers last fall disagreed with the comparison between the company’s boardroom conflict and the HBO show. On Twitter, she wrote, “Succession? Please. It feels more like [Game of Thrones].”
In its most recent season, the show made a reference to The Globe and Mail, when Kendall Roy called it an “illustrious” newspaper.
Suzanne Rogers has encountered controversy in the past. Last year, she drew the ire of students and faculty at Ryerson University, to which the Rogers family has donated millions of dollars, by posting a photo on social media in which she, Mr. Rogers and their sons posed with former U.S. president Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort. The photo caption read, “A special way to end the night.”
Ms. Rogers later issued a statement that said the encounter lasted only a few seconds as they were leaving the dinner and that her family has no relationship with Mr. Trump. She added that she regrets that the photo “caused anyone to question” her values.
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