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Into the Grey zone

Par plucks exex from D'Works stable

When Paramount shocked the biz with its peekaboo deal to acquire DreamWorks three weeks ago, one key reason behind the plan quickly came to light.

Near the top of the “why” list was content, content, content. By slapping down $1.6 billion to grab up DreamWorks, Par adds more than a handful of movies per year to its dehydrated slate.

But another reason is slowly emerging: people.

Last week, longtime Paramount distribution honcho Wayne Lewellen announced he would be exiting the studio in January after a 33-year tenure. Packing his boxes in Glendale and prepping to move into Lewellen’s old office is DreamWorks’ Jim Tharp.

And some of Tharp’s colleagues (including those in his distribution unit, like Don Harris) are expected to follow him over the hill as Brad Grey continues to shake things up at Paramount.

Also moving over last week was Hal Richardson on the TV side.

While people at Par are understandably nervous, a longtime DreamWorks staffer tells Variety the studio’s founders made it clear they didn’t want to see members of the DW family lose their jobs under the deal.

So all eyes are on the incoming studio’s roster to see which candidates are likely to make the move.

Marketing maven Terry Press is high on the buzz list, but there’s also talk that she’ll stick with Jeffrey Katzenberg and take a job with his animation business.

Stay tuned.

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