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Relativity Taps Paramount’s Steve Bertram for Top Spot

A fight may be brewing over Bertram’s jumping to Relativity – Paramount will not let him out of his contract


Ryan Kavanaugh continues to be one of the busiest guys in Hollywood.

After acquiring pieces of Overture, announcing a new slate, and letting Geoff Ammer go – all just this month – comes word that he plans to hire Paramount’s Steve Bertram as a chief operating executive at Relativity.

Bertram is currently the head of business operations for Paramount Home Video, the former CFO of DreamWorks and one of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s top deputies.

But the question is: will Paramount let him go?

The plan is for Bertram to join Relativity as soon as he can negotiate an exit from Paramount, a knowledgeable individual told TheWrap. But the studio has told Bertram that it intends to enforce his contract, which is up in a year and a half, according to another individual with knowledge of the studio's thinking.

It is not entirely clear what will transpire. In most cases studios amicably negotiate the departure of executives who want to take positions elsewhere. But if Paramount takes a legal position opposing Bertram's move, he may choose to stay.

Bertram was CFO of DreamWorks after it split witih DreamWorks Animation in 2004, and helped negotiate the sale to Viacom.

Relativity current has a COO in Andrew Marcus, but as Kavanaugh continues to put in place the components for a full-fledged independent studio, it seemed inevitable that he hire a more seasoned operating officer.  

Relativity had no comment. Paramount did not respond to TheWrap's request.

editor's note: This article was corrected to reflect that Bertram was CFO of DreamWorks, not DreamWorks Animation.