Paramount's Brad Grey Said to Be Replaced by Interim Committee

  • Film unit suffered $445 million loss in latest fiscal year
  • Viacom said to seek new studio chief from outside the company

Brad Grey is stepping down as studio head of Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures after a string of box-office failures, and will be replaced by an interim committee of executives, according to people familiar with the matter.

Viacom has already begun a search for a new chief executive officer for the film studio, and is expected to hire someone from outside the company, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The internal panel of executives, which include TV chief Amy Powell and film group head Marc Evans, will run Paramount until a successor is named, the people said.

A former talent manager and producer of hit TV show “The Sopranos,” Grey, 59, was the longest-tenured head of a major Hollywood studio, having run Paramount since 2005. Under his leadership, Paramount topped all major studios in grosses twice, and developed strong relationships with filmmakers Michael Bay and Martin Scorsese. 

Yet the studio’s performance slipped in recent years, with annual North American grosses falling to $876 million in 2016 from almost $2 billion in 2011. The company reported a loss of $445 million last fiscal year after several big-budget flops and the delayed release of a troubled animated film.

New Viacom CEO Bob Bakish is bringing Paramount under closer control by executives in New York, part of a larger revamp of the media empire that owns cable networks MTV and Nickelodeon. Those cable channels will now be responsible with supplying ideas for about half of the Paramount slate, reducing the number of original projects that come from the Los Angeles-based studio.

Back to TV

Viacom’s young, male-oriented cable channel Spike is being renamed the Paramount Network as part of a corporate turnaround plan Bakish unveiled this month.

Paramount, which operated the TV studio that produced “Happy Days” and “The Brady Bunch,” has looked to get back into television production after ceding that business to CBS Corp. in a 2006 corporate divorce that split Viacom and CBS into separate companies. And like many of its peers, Paramount is in the hunt for film franchises that can reduce the seasonal instability of the film business.

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