Paramount overhauls exec suite

New titles for Lesher, Moore; Meyer sole Vantage head

CORRECTED 2:47 p.m. PT Sunday, Jan. 13
UPDATED 7:00 p.m. PT Friday, Jan. 11


John Lesher and Rob Moore have been given new titles and duties at Paramount as part of an executive makeover that has been in the works for weeks.

Lesher, who re-energized the studio's specialty film division Paramount Vantage, will take over creative control of all the studio's film labels, while Moore, who oversaw the launch of Paramount Pictures International and rebuilt Paramount Home Entertainment over the past year, consolidates his standing.

The overhaul, announced Friday, also introduces new roles for Brad Weston, the studio's president of production, and Nick Meyer, who now will serve as sole head of Vantage.

Under the new structure devised by Paramount chairman and CEO Brad Grey, Lesher has been promoted to president of the Paramount Film Group and will oversee creative affairs at the studio's labels, Paramount Films, MTV Films, Nickelodeon Movies and Vantage.

Moore, who had been serving as president of worldwide marketing, distribution and home entertainment, has been named vice chairman of Paramount Pictures.

Lesher and Moore will report to Grey, and they both will share responsibility for theatrical business affairs at the four labels. Grey retains greenlight authority over the films from all the labels.

"Just in terms of constancy, in terms of running the studio, this is solidifying what has become a strong, senior executive team," Grey said Friday. The promotions and responsibilities have been well-earned. I see it as a team that will build on the foundation we have with a strong year last year and a strong slate for the coming year."

Weston, who reported to Grey as president of production at Paramount Pictures, now will report to Lesher. His portfolio increases, though, because he also will be working with MTV Films and Nick Movies, which have been brought under the Paramount Films umbrella. Scott Aversano, who had been president of MTV Films and Nick Movies, is moving into a production deal with the studio.

"What you're going to see is a real focus on the Viacom brands," Grey said of the studio's strategy. "In the development process, we can target projects for our brands and labels."

The new executive team, which also includes COO Frederick Huntsberry, could be considered Paramount 2.0, a further realignment of the executive lineup that has been in place for the past year, following the departure of Gail Berman in January 2007 as president of Paramount Pictures.

"It's always easier to promote internally since everybody knows each other," Grey said. "This is a conversation we've been having for some time, and John is off to a running start."

Lesher -- who moved from Endeavor to Paramount more than two years ago -- has given Vantage a new profile. The division is smack in the middle of this year's awards race with "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country for Old Men," both co-productions with Miramax Films, as well as such films as "Into the Wild" and "A Mighty Heart."

Now that Lesher is moving up to oversee the studio's mainstream movies as well, Meyer, who joined Paramount Vantage in 2006 as its co-president, has been promoted to president of the specialty division.

While Paramount relied on such DreamWorks titles as "Blades of Glory," "Norbit" and "Disturbia," along with "Transformers," a DreamWorks-Paramount co-production, to take the top market-share slot in 2007, this year will see the rollout of such commercially promising Paramount-produced titles as the upcoming "Cloverfield" and a retooled "Star Trek" movie.

Lesher will not be involved with the DreamWorks titles that Paramount releases. DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider deals directly with Grey, while Moore works with DreamWorks on marketing and distribution.

Grey expects the studio to continue to release about 20-21 films per year, which will include titles from DreamWorks, DreamWorks Animation and outside suppliers like Marvel Enterprises, which is producing the May release "Iron Man," as well as Paramount-produced product.
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