Par watchers bet on Lansing

Less than a week after Brandon Tartikoff abruptly resigned his post as Paramount Pictures chairman, industry watchers are trying to figure out who will end up as his replacement.

The odds-on favorite to take the job is producer Sherry Lansing, although Creative Artists Agency’s Jack Rapke and ICM’s Jim Wiatt also have been mentioned as possible candidates.

Lansing did not return calls,but sources say she has been quietly negotiating with the studio since last week and has not made a decision.

Friends of Lansing, however, say she is reluctant to take the job for a number of reasons, notably that she recently married director William Friedkin and isn’t interested in the 24-hour-a-day grind that running a major film studio entails.

Even so, Lansing seems like the logical choice. In 1980, she became the first woman to ever run a major studio when she was appointed president of 20th Century Fox after holding production posts at MGM and Columbia.

A bigger point in her favor is that for eight years, Lansing was partnered with current Paramount Communications president Stanley R. Jaffe, who would be her boss if she accepted the position.

“The circumstantial evidence points to her taking the job,” said a Paramount producer. “She’s had a working relationship with Stanley and they obviously get along in some form or another.”

On the other hand there is evidence beyond the circumstantial, as the producer said, “I don’t think she wants to take the abuse” that the job entails.

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