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Paramount ousts Lesher, Weston

Adam Goodman takes president post

In a major shakeup, Paramount Pictures on Friday ousted John Lesher and Brad Weston and tapped production president Adam Goodman to take Lesher’s slot as prez of Paramount’s film group.

Studio chairman Brad Grey made the announcement late Friday afternoon, noting that both Lesher and Weston have been offered producing deals. The company issued a release saying the studio “streamlines” the production executive structure. The exit had been reported on Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily website before the release.

Lesher is leaving 18 months after being promoted from Par Vantage to the top job at the parent studio. Complaints, both from within the studio and outside, had been mounting about Par not putting enough projects into the development pipeline, particularly with the departure of DreamWorks.

The move comes eight months after DreamWorks founder Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider left Paramount and Grey moved Goodman — who had been DreamWorks head of production — into overseeing production at Par.

“Adam has proven himself to be a terrific executive with a track record of having shepherded some incredibly successful films,” Grey said in a statement. “We have worked closely with Adam over the last few years and look forward to expanding his duties.”

Par parent Viacom bought DreamWorks in 2006. Since then, Goodman has overseen a string of commercial successes including “Transformers,” “I Love You, Man,” “Hotel for Dogs,” “Norbit,” “Blades of Glory,” “Disturbia,” “Tropic Thunder” and “Eagle Eye.”

Lesher came to Par as head of Paramount Vantage following a long career as a top talent agent, most recently as a partner at Endeavor. He oversaw “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Babel,” “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country for Old Men” at Vantage. At parent Par, he and Weston oversaw “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Star Trek.”

But Lesher also saw missteps with “A Mighty Heart” and “The Duchess.”

“John has made great contributions to Paramount and has nurtured a series of powerful films which have had a true cultural impact,” Grey said. “We look forward to working with him in the future.”

Weston, who was prez of production, came to Paramount in 2005 soon after Grey arrived. He had previously been co-president of Dimension Films.

“Brad’s strong relationships with filmmakers, his creative instincts and hard work have been strong assets for our studio,” Grey said. “We look forward to entering into the next phase of our relationship with him.”

Paramount said vice chairman Rob Moore will continue to oversee Goodman on business affairs.

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