Viacom has set an interim committee of internal executives — including film group chief Marc Evans and TV head Amy Powell — to run Paramount Pictures until a successor can be found for outgoing studio chief Brad Grey. Grey is finalizing his exit deal and an agreement could be reached as early as Tuesday. He has three years to go on the five-year contract he signed in 2015, so a financial settlement has to be consummated before he formally resigns under pressure from Viacom’s new CEO, Bob Bakish. Grey’s departure had long been expected in the industry amid the top-to-bottom shakeup at Viacom and the continued poor performance of Paramount.
The internal committee that will lead the studio in the wake of Grey’s departure includes Andrew Gumpert, the Sony alum who joined Paramount as chief operating officer in November; Megan Colligan, president of distribution and marketing; Evans, president of the motion picture group; and Powell, president of TV and digital. There are expected to be other members of the committee appointed, according to an insider.
Among the current crop of major studio chiefs, Grey had been one of the longest-serving, having been at his post for 12 years. On his watch, Paramount succeeded with tentpole franchises including “Transformers,” “Star Trek” and “Mission: Impossible,” but suffered costly misses with a string of flops including “Ben-Hur,” “Allied,” “Zoolander 2,” “Monster Trucks” and “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.” Paramount’s film output has shrunk dramatically in the past five years, and the studio posted a loss of $180 million during the most recent fiscal quarter and red ink of about $450 million for Viacom’s 2016 fiscal year.
Bakish signaled that there would be changes afoot at the studio earlier this month when Viacom unveiled its turnaround plan for the studio, which has been battered by internal and external turmoil for more than a year. When pressed about Grey’s fate at Paramount, Bakish would only say that “leadership needs to be accountable.”
Bakish has mandated that Paramount be more closely aligned with its sibling cable networks in developing films that can be co-branded with the six core channels that are the primary focus of Viacom’s rehabilitation efforts: MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Comedy Central, BET and the Paramount Network (the new moniker for Spike TV as of early next year). As part of that cross-platform focus, Paramount and the cable channels are setting up a joint team of development executives who will work across the film and TV divide.
Grey succeeded Sherry Lansing as the leader of Paramount in 2005. He came to the Melrose lot after his long and successful partnership with the late Bernie Brillstein in talent management turned their Brillstein-Grey Entertainment into the industry’s top management-production company.
Grey had a close relationship with former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and Viacom controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone. Last year, amid the corporate drama that led to Dauman’s ouster in September, Viacom vice chair Shari Redstone expressed her support for Grey, which was viewed as a sign that he might survive the shakeup. It’s understood that Shari Redstone and Grey have jointly been planning an Oscar night party to be held Sunday at Grey’s home. Paramount films received 18 Oscar nominations this year, including best picture bids for “Arrival” and the Denzel Washington-Viola Davis starrer “Fences.”
A spokesman for Viacom declined to comment.