Brad Grey in Talks to Leave as Paramount Pictures Chairman

UPDATED: Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey is in talks with his bosses at Viacom to step aside and take on a new role with the company, a long-rumored shift that would come after five years of dismal results at the film studio, two sources confirmed Friday.

Grey’s possible departure comes after a long series of box office flops, far outnumbering hits, and upheaval in the top executive ranks. Though a replacement has not yet been chosen, several sources said that it is possible the job will go, at least on a temporary basis, to Amy Powell, Paramount’s president of television and digital entertainment.

The talks between Grey and Viacom’s leadership, including CEO Bob Bakish, were continuing into the afternoon Friday and might not be resolved until Monday or Tuesday, according to one of the sources.

Grey, a former talent manager, has had a tumultuous run. Despite some nurturing successful franchises like “Transformers” and “Mission: Impossible,” and fielding Oscar winners like “The Big Short” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Paramount has dramatically shrunk the number of films it releases annually and tumbled to the bottom of the studio rankings in terms of market share.

In each of the last five calendar years, Paramount has finished behind all of the five other major Hollywood studios. In two of those years, Grey’s studio even slipped into seventh place, ending up behind Lionsgate. Paramount has to reach back to 2011, when it backed hits like “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Thor” to find a year when it finished out of the basement. The Melrose Avenue studio was No. 1 that year.

Related Content Viacom CEO on Paramount Chief Brad Grey: ‘Leadership Needs to be Accountable’

Grey was closely aligned with Philippe Dauman, the former CEO and chairman of Paramount’s parent company, Viacom. Dauman was pushed out last year in a bruising battle for control of the media conglomerate that pitted him against Shari Redstone, daughter of Viacom founder Sumner Redstone. Grey engaged in a long charm offensive with Shari Redstone, taking her to dinner with stars like Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep. He tried to argue that Dauman’s penny-pinching prevented the studio from taking creative risks.

Short of stature and soft of speech, Grey was nevertheless a teflon executive, enduring management shakeups, box office setbacks, and an ailing corporate chairman in Sumner Redstone that would have leveled more mortal studio apparatchiks. During his tenure, he maintained allies like Pitt and Martin Scorsese, but also feuded with the likes of Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose DreamWorks Animation had an unhappy distribution alliance with the studio, and his former client Gary Shandling, with whom he engaged in a lengthy legal feud. At one point during his tenure, Grey became embroiled in the trial of private investigator Anthony Pellicano. He was accused of using the wire-tapper to spy on people, but despite a wave of embarrassing headlines, he avoided legal liability

Prior to joining Paramount, Grey formed a partnership with talent manager Bernie Brillstein. Together they formed Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, which helped package such iconic shows as “The Larry Sanders Show,” “News Radio,” and “The Sopranos.” He also teamed with Jennifer Aniston and Pitt to create Plan B, which produced the likes of “The Departed” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Paramount declined to comment.


Popular on Variety

More Film

  • First still from the set of

    Composer Michael Giacchino on Setting the Right Tone for 'Jojo Rabbit'

    Michael Giacchino is a widely respected film composer, with an Oscar and a Grammy for “Up” and an Emmy for “Lost,” as well as a Grammy for “Ratatouille.” He is stirring up Oscar buzz again with his score for Fox Searchlight’s “Jojo Rabbit,” written and directed by Taika Waititi. Giacchino talked with Variety about the [...]

  • Michael Giacchino Film Composer

    How the 'Jojo Rabbit' Production Team Created a Child's View of Nazi Germany

    When picturing Nazi Germany during World War II, most people think of black-and-white or sepia-toned images of drab cities. For the cinematographer and production designer of “Jojo Rabbit,” a film set squarely in that time and place, it became clear that the color palette of the era was far more varied than they could have [...]

  • Robert Duvall (Oberst Kilgore)

    Studiocanal Steps Up its Heritage Game in Germay Via Arthaus Classics

    LYON, France – Continuing its devotion to heritage film in Germany, Studiocanal is bringing classic movies back into cinemas while also releasing newly restored DVD/Blu-ray collections of beloved titles. The leading producer-distributor enjoyed a major hit this summer with the one-day re-release of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now: Final Cut,” which scored 12,000 admissions in [...]

  • Dewanda Wise Captain Marvel

    'Jurassic World 3' Casts DeWanda Wise in Leading Role (EXCLUSIVE)

    DeWanda Wise, best known for her breakout role in Netflix’s “She’s Gotta Have It,” has landed a leading role in the third installment of Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s “Jurassic World” saga. She joins Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, who will reprise their roles from the previous films, as well as Sam Neill, Laura [...]

  • awkwafina-taron-egerton-split

    Awkwafina, Taron Egerton Get Santa Barbara Fest Salute

    The 35th Santa Barbara Intl. Film Festival will honor Awkwafina, Taron Egerton, Florence Pugh and Taylor Russell with Virtuoso Awards on Saturday, Jan. 18. The quartet mark the first wave of recipients of honorees at the festival. The four actors are being saluted for their 2019 work, including “The Farewell,” “Rocketman,” “Midsommar,” and “Waves,” respectively. The festival [...]

  • NEZHA Chinese Movie

    Animation Is Film Festival Spotlights Some of China's Top Toons

    Over the summer, “Ne Zha,” the first 3D Chinese-produced animated feature released in Imax theaters, did something no one expected. It has grossed $700 million and instantly signaled the arrival of Chinese animation as an international creative force. The blockbuster is part of the lineup of the Animation Is Film Festival, which runs Oct. 18-20 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content