Scott Stuber is expected to take the Netflix motion picture job as word comes that after a second round of talks with a number of candidates, the former chairman of 20th Century Fox Jim Gianopulos has emerged as the front-runner to run Paramount along with Michael De Luca overseeing the motion picture division of the studio. The move would put the former chairman of 20th Century Fox back in charge of a film studio and would keep a similar executive structure in place when Brad Grey and Rob Moore ran the studio. No deals are yet in place for Gianopulos or De Luca.
Gianopulos, who started his long career in entertainment at Paramount, had been rumored for the Legendary Entertainment post earlier but many felt those rumors were just a stalking horse as he narrowed in on the Paramount job. De Luca, who just came off of co-producing one of the best Oscar shows in recent memory (sans the last Best Picture flub), had been in talks for the top motion pictures post and over the weekend, we heard that Viacom was doing its due diligence on the executive. We also heard that serious talks have taken place between the two, but no deal has been struck as yet. De Luca’s family lives in Ft. Worth although he spends about four days a week in Los Angeles.
Stuber — the one-time co-president of Universal Pictures and former vice-chairman of worldwide production at Uni — was courted by Paramount as well, but is expected to run Netflix’s film initiative. Last year, the Netflix executive responsible for original films, Pauline Fischer, exited the company. Stuber is expected to have a more expanded role at Netflix.
The musical chairs in the industry’s executive ranks comes after Viacom CEO Bob Bakish told shareholders last week that Viacom was going to hire someone in the near term. Viacom has been looking for someone to implement the strategy of focusing the company on “six flagship brands:” BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., and Paramount Pictures. De Luca’s experience as a producer for both television and film serves may prove to serve this strategy as Bakish wants someone who can co-develop and coordinate both movies and TV shows.
From his days as an executive at New Line Cinema where he matched up a young Jim Carrey who was coming off of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective with newcomer/model Cameron Diaz into The Mask to the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, De Luca has been involved with over 60 films. Putting De Luca in charge off the motion picture group may prove the first solid step in making sure that the studio gets back on the right track after bleeding money quarter and quarter.
Gianopulos, who rose up through the ranks at 20th Century Fox through international distribution to head the studio, is a pro and widely respected having worked 16 years previously atop a studio. Both hires would keep the Viacom stockholders happy.
The changing of the guard at Paramount began with the ouster of Philippe Dauman from Viacom, its vice-chair Rob Moore from Paramount last year, followed by studio chair Brad Grey last month after the studio had suffered quarter after quarter in the red. Viacom’s Shari Redstone took control with Bakish and has put a priority on rebuilding Viacom, implementing a new philosophy of combining efforts across all company labels. After Grey’s exit, it pulled together an interim committee to shore up the company with shareholders until a successor could be named.
Several people had been interviewed for the job, including former Paramount vice-chair Rob Friedman and Studio 8 producer and former Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov. Deadline was first to report that De Luca had been brought in for an interview for the job and was on a shortlist of candidates for the job.