Viacom CEO Heads to LA, Sets Interim Paramount Leadership After Brad Grey

Division heads will prop up studio while Grey’s replacement search gets underway

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has mobilized four division heads to stabilize Paramount Pictures as longtime chief Brad Grey heads toward the exit door, two individuals familiar with the matter told TheWrap.

Bakish will arrive at Paramount’s Hollywood lot on Wednesday, one of the insiders said, to meet with a group of interim leaders he’s called on to help with operations while a permanent replacement for Grey is found.

Paramount TV and Digital Head Amy Powell will take a spot on the temporary committee, as TheWrap previously reported, alongside Motion Picture President Marc Evans, Worldwide Distribution and Marketing President Megan Colligan and Paramount COO of four months Andrew Gumpert.

More names are expected to join the committee in coming days, all from within the studio, the insider added. Viacom’s CFO Wade Davis, whom Bakish said in December was spending “about half his time” at the L.A. studio focusing on triaging operations, is also expected to stay in place and help ease $445 million in reported losses from 2016.

It is presently unclear if Bakish will address only senior leadership, or hold a town hall for all employees on the lot. Bakish will most likely remain in Los Angeles to attend Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, where many conglomerate heads rub elbows with their executives and stars.

Grey and top Viacom leadership were said to be discussing a new role for the prolific producer and former talent manager, but talks fell apart last week. Grey has nearly three years left on his contract, an individual familiar with the matter said.

“Paramount needs to have a better year than it had in 2016,” Bakish said bluntly at the UBS Global Media & Communications conference in December.

Paramount has finished last in market share among the six major studios for the last five straight years. Last year was particularly painful with misses like “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” “Zoolander 2,” Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” and “Monster Trucks” — an effects-driven action film on which the studio took a $115 million write-down months before its unceremonious arrival in theaters.

In the last few weeks, the studio announced a slew of new movie projects, including the spy thriller “A Woman of No Importance” starring “Star Wars” breakout Daisy Ridley, the comedy “Action Park” for producer-star Johnny Knoxville and a possible sci-fi franchise with Jerry Bruckheimer.

Under Grey’s 12-year leadership, the studio procured some heavyweight franchise material like the “Transformers” and “Mission: Impossible” series, not to mention prestige titles — Paramount has 18 Academy Award nominations this year alone, and two in the Best Picture category.