Redstone sees big comeback for Paramount


Viacom boss Sumner Redstone said Viacom subsidiary Paramount Pictures, coming off a disappointing and money-losing year, is in the midst of a major turnaround and will rise again this year to become again one of Hollywood's leading studios (HR 2/14).

In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter in Berlin, where he was overseeing the launch of Comedy Central in Germany, Redstone called Paramount's current lineup fantastic and predicted a major upswing in the first half of the year.

Citing Oscar nominees "Dreamgirls" and "Babel," as well as an upcoming project from Steven Spielberg and the performance of Eddie Murphy starrer "Norbit," Redstone said: "You will see us rising from the bottom to the top or very near the top in the first six months of this year."

Redstone said he fully supports the leadership of Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey, who has been overhauling the studio, reshaping it into four distinct labels. Several heads have rolled as a result, including Paramount Pictures president Gail Berman and co-president of production Allison Shearmur.

"We have a great leader in Brad Grey," Redstone said. "And I believe we have the best management possible at Viacom, at CBS and at the studio."

While reluctant to further discuss Paramount's decision to cancel its production deal with Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner's Cruise Wagner Prods., Redstone said the move did send a signal to the industry.

"I prefer not to talk about Tom Cruise, who is a great actor," Redstone said. "It was just his behavior. It was, at that time, unacceptable. It is probably changing. But if there was a message, it was this: We are paying the talent too much. Because it is not the talent that makes the movie, it is the script. The plays the thing, as someone once said."