Brad Grey Bids Adieu to Paramount Staff: Read the Memo
The executive has ruled the studio for more than a decade.
It's official: Brad Grey is out as CEO of Paramount Pictures.
Grey, who has spent the past several days hammering out his exit contract with parent company Viacom, sent out a memo to staff early Wednesday afternoon informing them of his departure.
"I am writing to let you know that I am leaving Paramount. I will hand over most of my duties effective today, but will remain engaged in the coming weeks to support a smooth transition. It has been my privilege to be a part of Paramount’s storied history, and I am grateful to Sumner Redstone for giving me this opportunity," Grey wrote.
"Above all, I am indebted to all of you, the wonderful people here at Paramount. Your creativity, professionalism and integrity are second to none," added Grey, who has served in the top job for 12 years.
Viacom quickly followed with a release of its own, while newly installed Viacom CEO Bob Bakish issued a separate memo.
Hours earlier, Grey and Bakish had breakfast at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel in an effort to convey that it will be a smooth transition.
Grey's departure comes after one of the worst years in the studio's history, with losses of nearly $450 million, and amid sweeping changes at Viacom, where Shari Redstone is now firmly in control of the entertainment empire founded by her father, Sumner Redstone.
While Viacom searches for Grey's replacement, an interim operating committee will run the studio and report to Bakish. The operating committee will include Paramount TV and digital entertainment president Amy Powell, COO Andrew Gumpert, movie division president Marc Evans, marketing/distribution president Megan Colligan and chief financial officer Mark Badagliacca.
Bakish said the committee will "keep the momentum going as we undertake a comprehensive search to identify a successor. Brad will stay on for a period to help with the transition, and I’ve also asked Wade Davis to spend a significant amount of time on the west coast to work with the team and support me during this time." Davis is Viacom's CFO.
"As you all know, one of my top priorities is to address the challenges facing Paramount and ensure the studio has the support and resources required to ensure its continued success," Bakish continued. "Please join me in thanking Brad for his contributions over the years, and I also want to thank everyone at Paramount for all their great work."
Grey is exiting the studio in the wake of Viacom's effort to impose greater control over greenlighting. His employment contract gave him authority to approve movies with budgets up to $125 million.
Grey, previously a co-founder of the Brillstein-Grey management company, has run Paramount Pictures since 2005, surviving in that top gig longer than most studios heads. His contract was renewed in 2015 through 2020. While his deal gave him the option to have a production label, Viacom is said to have bought Grey out in his exit negotiation.
Grey's full memo is below:
I am writing to let you know that I am leaving Paramount. I will hand over most of my duties effective today, but will remain engaged in the coming weeks to support a smooth transition. It has been my privilege to be a part of Paramount’s storied history, and I am grateful to Sumner Redstone for giving me this opportunity.
I want to wish Shari, Bob and their entire team the best as they embark on Viacom’s next chapter. From the moment I came to Paramount in 2005, I saw myself as a steward of an iconic institution. I never could have dreamed that privilege would last more than 12 years.
In that time, it has been my honor to work with a group of wildly talented storytellers. The core of our successes has always been their unique ability to entertain and inspire people around the world.
Above all, I am indebted to all of you, the wonderful people here at Paramount. Your creativity, professionalism and integrity are second to none.
I am grateful to everyone who helped me along the way and I look forward to new adventures. Thank you.