Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAB) has opened talks with Jim Gianopulos, the former Chairman at Twentieth Century Fox to head its Paramount Pictures film studio. If appointed, Mr. Gianopulos will fill Brad Grey’s place that was left vacant after Grey was ousted by Bob Bakish, Viacom’s new chief executive following a string of ailing financial performance at the studio.
Viacom, which is based in New York and also a NASDAQ Stock also in talks with Michael De Luca, an Oscar nominated producer to be Mr. Gianopulos’s No. 2 at Paramount. Michael will be in charge of production.
After leaving Fox last year and replaced by Stacey Snider Mr. Gianopulos has been on watch lists of several Hollywood companies. He has also held talks about heading Dalian Wanda Group Co.’s Legendary Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The talks with the two companies however didn’t advance to levels that they have reached with Viacom.
A decision on whether Mr. Gianopulos will have full authority I choosing movies or whether he will be consulting with the company’s corporate brass is at the centre of the negotiations.
Sources privy to the negotiations said Mr. Gianopulos is insisting on full authority like most studio chiefs and the company is ready to grant the same. Messrs. Gianopulos and De Luca are expected to complete the negotiations and will be nominated as early as end of this week.
Mr. Gianopulos has wide experience in international distribution and will be fruitful in helping the company strengthen its global business network. He will leave details making and developing films to Mr. De Luca. Mr. De Luca has previously worked at DreamWorks Studios, Sony Pictures and New Line Cinema.
During his 16 years in managerial roles at Fox, Mr. Gianopulos was in charge of developing films like “Planet of the Apes”, “X-Men” and the release of “Avatar”.
21st Century Fox, the owner of the Fox studio and News Corp have a common ownership.
Paramount has been ranking below major studios and some of the best NASDAQ Stock for market share since 2012. This has been attributed to several flops like last year’s” Zoolander 2″ and “Ben-Hur”. The company made a loss of $445 million in the last financial year.