Koules exits Par Pix post

After less than a year as senior VP at Paramount Pictures, Oren Koules has abruptly ankled his post.

Following a meeting with production president Michele Manning late Wednesday night, Koules settled out the terms of his three-year contract.

No replacement has been named, but sources said the studio is looking to hire a senior executive to take the exec VP post vacated by Manning’s recent promotion.

Koules, who is reportedly exploring his options, could not be reached for comment.

The 36-year-old former producer was hired last year by Par motion picture group president John Goldwyn in a move that raised some eyebrows.

Koules, who had never held a studio position, came to Los Angeles to pursue a producing career after working as a commodities trader and a professional hockey player.

He joined Par last July after teaming with Dale Pollock to produce New Line Cinema’s profitable female urban drama “Set It Off.”

Koules took his title alongside two seasoned executives, Tom Levine and Don Granger.

Koules, who has a gregarious and easygoing charm, reportedly was hired with the expectation that he would be a magnet for projects and talent.

While at Par he worked on a handful of development projects, including “Privacy,” to which Michelle Pfeiffer is attached, and Wind Dancer’s “Denial,” which is to star Susan Sarandon.

However, the studio never carved out any specific producer accounts for him to oversee and Koules was reportedly uncomfortable with the politics of Paramount’s close-knit production team.

Prior to joining the studio, Koules had been partnered with Pollock at Peak Prods. for two years. “Set It Off,” a low-budget film that grossed a solid $36 million domestically, was Peak’s first film and bowed in November after Koules joined Paramount.

Koules also produced the Forest Whitaker-directed “Emerald City” and had previous producing credits on TriStar Pictures’ “Mrs. Winterbourne.”

Before moving to Los Angeles in 1992, he worked for eight years on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Before that he played hockey for the Chicago Blackhawks.

With reports from Michael Fleming.

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