Paramount Pictures sees a change of guard

MUMBAI: Viacom's motion picture company Paramount Pictures will see a change at the top. Veteran Hollywood talent manager who produced of the HBO hit television series The Sopranos Brad Grey will head the company from or before 1 March 2005.

Grey will take over Paramount Motion Picture Group chaireman and CEO. Grey will have ultimate authority on film development and production as well as business operations, worldwide. He replaces Sherry Lansing who had announced last year that she would not continue once her contract expired.

Lansing was responsible in a big way for hits such as Titanic and Braveheart. The trouble now at Paramount is that it has been several years since it had a major hit. Meanwhile rivals Warner and Sony jave scored big with The Lord Of the Rings and Spiderman.

Lansing's stepping down signals the end of an era. When she became Paramount's CEO in 1992 many industry observers felt that she had broken the glass ceiling for women in Hollywood.

Last year Paramount made films like The Stepford Wives that sank like a stone at the box office. Grey has the uneviable task of reinvigorating the studio. On a more positive side a recent Paramount film with Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events has managed to pull in the bucks.. In addition The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie received a positive response.

Grey will report to Viacom co COO Tom Freston. Freston said, "Brad’s integrity and values are matched by his exceptional vast entertainment experience and common sense. Brad’s smarts, style and instincts have made him a winner time after time over the years. He’s an entrepreneur, a manager, a dealmaker, a hit maker and has that combination of creative business acumen. He’s the ideal leader for the challenges of motion picture business today and tomorrow."

One upcoming film that Paramount is hoping will turn things around is War of the Worlds. This modern retake on the H.G. Wells classic novel reteams Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg. They had earlier worked on Minority Report. In fact Cruise has postponed plans to make a third installment of Mission Impossible so that he could work with Spielberg.

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