You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.


More Film

  • Best Films of 2018 Variety

    The Best Films of 2018

    Variety chief film critics — and cinema omnivores — Owen Gleiberman and Peter Debruge spend the year devouring everything from superhero movies to subtitled festival gems, which leaves a wealth of exceptional films to savor at year’s end. While “A Star Is Born” scored high with both critics, and “Eighth Grade” and “The Rider” each [...]

  • Peter Debruge Best Films of 2018

    Peter Debruge's 10 Best Films of 2018

    Every so often, Hollywood changes the world, but most of the time, the world changes Hollywood, which adjusts to reflect the innovation happening around it. A year after the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements forced the film industry to confront the sexism baked into the system, we are starting to see progress reflected onscreen and [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Sued for Home Video Profits by 'Young Doctors in Love' Writer

    Disney is facing a class-action lawsuit from the screenwriter of the 1982 hospital parody “Young Doctors in Love,” who alleges that the studio has withheld millions in home video revenue. Michael Elias filed the suit on Dec. 6 in Los Angeles Superior Court. His attorney, Neville Johnson, filed similar class-action lawsuits against six other studios [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    Richard E. Grant Makes the Most of His Screen Time

    Richard E. Grant is so memorable in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” that it’s a shock to realize he’s only in a fraction of the film. Fox Searchlight’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”centers on biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) when she is broke and desperate, and begins forging celebrity letters. Israel has encounters with multiple [...]

  • Wonder Woman

    Movies Starring Women Outperform Male-Led Titles at Box Office, Study Finds

    Female-led movies outperformed male-led titles at the worldwide box office during the 2014-17 period, a study released Tuesday showed. Creative Artists Agency and technology company Shift7 said that the analysis found that female-led films outperformed male-led films at all budget levels. The study grew out of the Time’s Up movement in a collaboration aiming to [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film Review: 'Aquaman'

    Aquaman isn’t like the other DC Comics superheroes, so it seems only right that his big-screen solo show should have a personality all its own — which, in the hands of “Furious 7” director James Wan, it does. Gone is the Aryan-looking Atlantean in green-and-orange spandex, replaced with a bare-chested Hawaiian super-stud with long, shaggy [...]

  • Issa Rae

    Issa Rae, Columbia Sign Multi-Picture Production Deal Promoting Diverse Screenwriters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Issa Rae’s production company, ColorCreative, has signed a multi-picture production deal with Columbia Pictures. The pact is unique in that under the agreement, ColorCreative will work with and back projects from emerging, diverse screenwriters. The move comes as the entertainment industry is under pressure to develop films and shows that feature underrepresented talent both in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content