New prod'n force: Braun and Berman


Former Paramount Pictures president Gail Berman and former Yahoo! Media Group chief Lloyd Braun are teaming to form a production venture tentatively dubbed BermanBraun, sources said Monday.

The company aims to focus primarily on TV and film production at the outset but will delve into original content for Internet and emerging media platforms. Sources cautioned that plans for the venture remain in the formative stage. Berman and Braun have long known each other through industry circles and have kicked around the idea of working together in a more formal arrangement for some time.

Reps for Berman and Braun declined comment. It's understood that the two had intended to announce the venture in a few weeks, but word of their plan began to spread late last week.

Berman exited her post at Paramount this month after a rocky 18-month tenure that coincided with broader upheaval on the Melrose Avenue lot (HR 1/11). Braun left Yahoo! last month, a little more than two years after launching the Santa Monica-based media arm of the Internet giant (HR 12/06).

Sources said the executives were motivated to join forces after years of working at large media companies. It's understood that the two have quietly been having conversations to explore nontraditional sources of funding for the venture, given all the private-equity money that has flowed into Hollywood during the past two years. Berman and Braun are said to be aiming to build a boutique indie outfit along the lines of Carsey-Werner Co. that would have the option of working with multiple network and studio partners rather than aligning with a single entity.

During her tenure at Paramount, Berman shepherded such films as "Failure to Launch," "Nacho Libre," "World Trade Center," "Dreamgirls" and "Freedom Writers." Before joining the studio, Berman spent five years as entertainment president at Fox Broadcasting Co., where she spearheaded the development and launch of "24," "American Idol," "The O.C." and "House," among other shows. Berman developed the Fox comedy "Malcolm in the Middle" for Fox during her previous tenure as head of Regency Television, and she was instrumental in the launch of the WB Network drama "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in 1997.

Braun established the Yahoo! Media Group after joining the company in November 2004. He overhauled the creative and business aspects of Yahoo!'s original media properties during his tenure. Before Yahoo! Braun was chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group, where he oversaw the ABC network and Touchstone Television studio. Braun was the catalyst at ABC for developing "Lost," the Emmy-winning drama that helped spur the network's turnaround after its fall 2004 premiere. Earlier in his career, Braun served as head of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment.