Former Fox Filmed Entertainment Group chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos is (finally) taking the reins of Paramount Pictures. He has been hired as chairman and CEO steps into the role left vacant by Brad Grey, who was pushed out of the company after multiple financial failures. The hiring puts an end to weeks of speculation and negotiations that often took place in the media. Sources said the hiring was just announced internally. Gianopulos will report directly to Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish and start April 3.

Viacom will keep a similar executive structure with a chairman and vice-chairman role, we hear. Gianopulos will assess the situation when he arrives and then start looking for the vice-chairman creative executive, the role previous filled by ousted executive Rob Moore. Meanwhile, projects are still moving forward at the studio. Gianopulos and the vice-chairman’s role will be in charge of re-invigorating a studio that was all but financially picked clean by the previous regime with a risk-adverse strategy that harmed not helped the studio’s coffers.

In today’s announcement, Viacom said Gianopulos will oversee the studio’s film and TV operations worldwide including production, marketing and distribution. He will also be in charge of developing new content, strengthening the studio’s slate with co-branded releases from Viacom flagship brands, and expanding its global footprint.

“Paramount is one of Hollywood’s truly iconic studios, and the role it has played in shaping the entertainment industry cannot be overstated,” Gianopulos said in the release (read it in full below.) “Looking ahead, I see a strong opportunity to position the studio for success by creating valuable franchise opportunities, developing fresh creative ventures, and mining Viacom’s deep brand portfolio to bring exciting new narratives to life. I am eager to get to work with Bob and the rest of the Viacom and Paramount teams to ensure Paramount continues to deliver rich, powerful films and television programming for all audiences.”

Viacom’s stock is up more that 3.5% in midday trading, though the bump may have more to do with a Barron’s story over the weekend saying Viacom’s stock has 40% upside.

With the hiring of Gianopulos, the studio is in the hands of a steadied pro. During his long stint at Fox, the executive oversaw 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000, Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios, Fox International Productions and Fox Home Entertainment. As such, Gianopulos has years of experience in distribution, marketing and production.

“Jim is a remarkably talented executive with all the tools – strategic vision, strong business expertise, deep industry and creative relationships – to bring films to life that resonate throughout culture and deliver commercial results,” said Bakish in a statement. “I’m thrilled we will have the benefit of his experience, savvy and global expertise as we lay out a clear path forward and begin the next chapter in Paramount’s storied history.”

Bakish also put this statement out internally to the Viacom/Paramount staff:

Team,

I’m thrilled to tell you that we are about to announce some major news.  Starting April 3, Jim Gianopulos will be joining us as Paramount’s new Chairman and CEO.

Jim is a hugely talented executive, with a strategic vision, strong business expertise and deep industry and creative relationships that are second to none.  In his new role, he’ll have direct oversight over Paramount’s film and television operations worldwide, including production, marketing and distribution.  And, importantly, he’ll be charged with setting a new strategic direction for Paramount, focusing on bringing fresh story-driven content – including properties from Viacom’s flagship brands – to audiences, and expanding the studio’s global footprint.

On that front, he’ll be given a running start thanks to the hard work of Paramount’s dedicated teams who are right now exploring new ways to strengthen the studio and position it for success.

As many of you will know, Jim is a 30-year veteran of the global entertainment industry.  For 16 years, he served as Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, where he oversaw numerous box office smashes, ranging from “Avatar” and the “X-Men” series, to “The Descendants” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and most recently “Deadpool” and “Hidden Figures.”  Before that, he held senior positions at Columbia Pictures and, yes, Paramount.  Amidst all of this, Jim has found the time to serve as Treasurer of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, Chairman of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, and a Trustee of Carnegie Melon University and the American Film Institute.  He also serves on the USC School of Cinematic Arts Board of Councilors.

I’ve said before that Paramount is a key part of Viacom’s history and our future.  Jim’s appointment is an important step forward, and I can’t wait to work with him and the incredible Paramount team to realize the studio’s full potential.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone at Paramount for their continued dedication throughout this transition. I’m sure many of you will have questions, so please do not hesitate to reach out to your managers.

Here’s to Paramount’s next chapter!

Best,
Bob

The move to Paramount is seen as a homecoming for Gianopulos as he really started his entertainment career at the studio, rising out of the international executive ranks (he ran it) to eventually head Fox.  He is not the first studio chairman to come out of the distribution ranks; Dick Cook ran Disney, Terry Semel ran Warner Bros. and Frank Mancuso ran Paramount. Gianopulos left Fox early last year after being replaced by Stacey Snider.

Gianopulos, who has also been considered a candidate for still-open Sony top job and the Legendary Entertainment post, began negotiating in earnest with Viacom over the past two weeks. The seasoned executive has his work cut out for him as the studio needs a major overhaul. The question and the real issue is how a slate will be financed as the Chinese money deal has not yet been syndicated by the banks in the Mainland.

He began his career as an attorney specializing in entertainment law before first stepping into the studio ranks as a business affairs exec in charge of the RCA/Columbia home video business.

Here is Viacom’s release announcing the hire:

Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA) today announced the appointment of Jim Gianopulos as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Pictures, effective April 3, 2017. Gianopulos will report directly to Bob Bakish, President and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom.

In his role as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Paramount, Gianopulos will oversee the studio’s film and television operations worldwide, including production, marketing, distribution and all other facets. He also will be charged with setting a new strategy for Paramount, including developing new content, strengthening Paramount’s slate with co-branded releases from Viacom flagship brands, and expanding the studio’s global footprint.

Bob Bakish, said, “Jim is a remarkably talented executive with all the tools – strategic vision, strong business expertise, deep industry and creative relationships – to bring films to life that resonate throughout culture and deliver commercial results. I’m thrilled we will have the benefit of his experience, savvy and global expertise as we lay out a clear path forward and begin the next chapter in Paramount’s storied history.”

Jim Gianopulos said, “Paramount is one of Hollywood’s truly iconic studios, and the role it has played in shaping the entertainment industry cannot be overstated. Looking ahead, I see a strong opportunity to position the studio for success by creating valuable franchise opportunities, developing fresh creative ventures, and mining Viacom’s deep brand portfolio to bring exciting new narratives to life. I am eager to get to work with Bob and the rest of the Viacom and Paramount teams to ensure Paramount continues to deliver rich, powerful films and television programming for all audiences.”

Gianopulos has been a leading figure in the global entertainment industry for more than 30 years. For 16 years, he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment, overseeing Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios. During his tenure, he oversaw numerous box office hits, ranging from “Avatar” and the “X-Men” series, to “The Descendants” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and most recently “Deadpool” and “Hidden Figures.”

Previously, Gianopulos served as President of 20th Century Fox International. Prior to joining the company, he held senior positions at Columbia Pictures and Paramount. He began his career as an attorney specializing in entertainment law. Gianopulos is Treasurer of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Chairman of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, and a Trustee of Carnegie Melon University and the American Film Institute. He also serves on the USC School of Cinematic Arts Board of Councilors.

Gianopulos attended the LLM program at the New York University School of Law and received his JD from Fordham University School of Law. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston University.