Par clears the decks

Lansing's legacy plays out as studio slates eclectic mix for '06

Talk about split personalities.

With a swift sweeping of the exec ranks and a year-end acquisition of DreamWorks, Paramount revealed a brand-new identity to the town in 2005.

Trouble is, it’ll be five months into ’06 before the studio shows its new self to moviegoers.

Until then, Par’s marketing, publicity and distribution teams will be working on product left over from the days of Sherry Lansing.

Queen Latifah starrer “Last Holiday” bows Jan. 13, and “Failure to Launch,” the last Scott Rudin-produced pic scheduled for release by Par, opens Feb. 10. (He still has other projects in development at the studio.)

The whole year, in fact, will see Par’s staff flip-flopping between old-regime pics and the first works greenlit by new toppers Brad Grey and Gail Berman, not to mention the integration of product from DreamWorks. Four of the nine pics on Par’s 2006 slate are holdovers, with four titles expected to be added in from DreamWorks, including Par co-prod “Dreamgirls.”

“Everyone knows that it is just harder to work on something that wasn’t yours from the beginning, because you’re not as passionate about it,” says one studio insider. “So much has changed here over the past year, and I think we’re all eager to put out our own movies.”

The hitch: The first film to be put on display from the new Par isn’t exactly the current regime’s “own.” But it’s definitely one that chairman Brad Grey put his stamp on when he took over in March. “Mission: Impossible 3,” toplined by Tom Cruise and directed by J.J. Abrams, underwent a big rethink under Grey, with its globetrotting scope scaled back and more than 10% reportedly cut from a budget originally north of $150 million.

Following the May 5 “M:I3” bow, there will be two more pics from Lansing’s team on the sked: the animated “Barnyard,” in theaters Oct. 6, and the family film “Charlotte’s Web,” scheduled for Christmas.

Before the holidays, theaters will have seen the new Par through the eyes of Oliver Stone with his “World Trade Center,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with “Babel” and David Fincher with “Zodiac.”

That’s the bold new face Par staffers would like to project.

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