Berman ready for Fox solo

Exec's deal keeps her at co. through June 2005

Gail Berman began her new solo career Tuesday with a senior staff meeting — and word that she’ll be staying at Fox Entertainment for at least another 18 months.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Berman told Daily Variety Tuesday, just minutes after the exec gathered her staff in the wake of Sandy Grushow’s departure as head of the Fox TV Entertainment Group.

Berman declined to discuss aspects of her deal, but insiders said Fox Group chairman-CEO Peter Chernin exercised a one-year option on Berman’s contract over the weekend.

Deal keeps her at Fox through June 2005. It’s likely Berman and Chernin will at some point begin talks about a new multiyear agreement.

Even before the events of the past few days, Berman had quietly passed a milestone in the annals of the Fox exec ranks: She passed Chernin to become the longest-serving prexy of Fox Entertainment.

Berman, who was out of the office on Monday tending to a death in the family, said the events of the last few days had left her in a “whirlwind.”

She said that with “change comes opportunity” but that, despite her de facto promotion and new powers, it was business as usual at the web.

“This is a team here,” Berman said. “Everything we’ve done, good or bad, has been as a team. We succeeded last year as a team and we will succeed this year as a team.”

Grushow’s departure doesn’t alter her and Fox’s continued quest to change the rules of primetime development and scheduling.

“We are going to continue the evolution (toward) year-round programming,” she said. “I can guarantee you that’s going to happen.”

Berman credited Grushow as having been a “marvelous partner” and having learned a great deal from the exec. She also said she was looking forward to the net’s next chapter.

“I’m excited about the possibilities that will be provided,” she said. “I don’t know what they are yet, but I’m excited about the future.”

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