Studio Legends: Paramount

When Robert Evans, now 80, backed Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather during the early 1970s, there were “big fights,” he recalls. “Mafia pictures don’t sell,” he was told, but He ignored the warnings, and the Oscar winner became history. Beating the odds in big ways has become a Paramount trademark, even if the colorful execs who have run the studio couldn’t be more different. Evans, the former actor, became a glamorous force during the ’70s film renaissance with movies like Chinatown. Following the Barry Diller/Michael Eisner regime, Frank Mancuso, 77, who came from distribution, succeeded in the mid-’80s with such hits as Top Gun. Viacom’s Sumner Redstone, 87, who turned a regional theater chain into an empire, entered the picture in the ’90s, overseeing the team of Jonathan Dolgen, 65, a brilliant numbers-cruncher, and Sherry Lansing, the first woman to head a studio (who was in China when this photo was shot). Together, they turned out Oscar winners including Forrest Gump. Brad Grey, 52, who took the reins in 2005, remains the master overseer — with an assist from vice chairman Rob Moore, he survived a bumpy start to oversee blockbusters like the Star Trek reboot to Oscar hopefuls like True Grit. Now, Redstone boasts, Paramount “reaches ever-larger audiences.”          

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