In a sign that Viacom is ready to ramp up its output under the supervision of Shari Redstone and new CEO Bob Bakish, the media giant is preparing to hand over the reins of its crown jewel Paramount Pictures to former 20th Century Fox topper Jim Gianopulos and veteran studio executive and producer Michael De Luca, the Tracking Board has learned.
The decision should come as music to Hollywood’s ears, as Paramount had been making fewer films under outgoing CEO Brad Grey. By hiring the tag-team of Gianopulos and De Luca, it’s a signal that Paramount is ready to start making movies again, and they couldn’t have picked a better pair to lead that mission.
While the Tracking Board first reported that De Luca was in the midst of exiting his first-look deal at Universal for the top post at Paramount, it turns out he’ll run the film division under Gianopulos, who began favoring Paramount over Legendary once it became clear he’d have De Luca by his side, according to sources.
Paramount is currently being run by a committee that includes Marc Evans, Megan Colligan, Andrew Gumpert and Amy Powell, all of whom report to Bakish. Joined by Viacom CFO Wade Davis, Bakish spent the week interviewing candidates before settling on Gianopulos, who actually started his career at Paramount.
Under the proposed terms of this arrangement, Gianopulos would be named CEO, while he and De Luca would serve as co-chairs. De Luca has been in the process of extricating himself from his Universal deal for the past week, as the Tracking Board detailed last week. It remains to be seen which projects, if any, he’ll be allowed to take with him to the rival Melrose lot.
Representatives for Viacom and Paramount declined to comment.
With Gianopulos and De Luca about to be off the market, the question turns to who will run Legendary now that Thomas Tull is gone. Mary Parent is said to be happy with her position there, but one person who won’t be coming to the rescue is Scott Stuber, who instead is negotiating to run Netflix’s budding film division.
That leaves former Lionsgate exec Rob Friedman and former Warner Bros. chief Jeff Robinov as the top candidates for the Legendary job as well as Michael Lynton’s former job at Sony, though it sure would be nice to add some new blood to the typical mix.
THR broke the news of Gianopulos’ expected hire at Viacom as well as Stuber’s expected hire at Netflix.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief