Viacom CEO Bob Bakish is back for second round of meetings which we hear includes former 20th Century Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos, producer and and former Universal exec Scott Stuber, former Lionsgate and Paramount exec Rob Friedman, producer and former New Line Cinema, Sony and DreamWorks exec Michael De Luca, and producer and former Warner Bros. chief Jeff Robinov. Bakish will be joined in these meetings by human resources executive Scott Miller and possibly CFO Wade Davis, who will be very involved with the new Paramount Chairman/CEO. All of these candidates are topflight, proven executives. We are hearing that De Luca may have the edge on the post.
Stuber, one-time co-president of Universal Pictures and former vice-chairman of worldwide production at Uni, is also being heavily courted by Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos to become head of Netflix’s film initiative.
Bakish returns after a week of meetings in New York to figure out Viacom’s network business and he will likely have answers to reasonable questions that have left all the top candidates hesitant. Those questions involve the authority to green light films or buy packaged films that require production commitments, without needing permission from a committee. It’s known that candidates believed that they would all be at a disadvantage with rival studio CEOs who hold that authority to quickly make deals. Also looming, are also questions about how large a commitment Viacom topper Shari Redstone would make to fund productions and a film studio overhaul
Those concerns come after previous Viacom Chairman Philippe Dauman held back the purse strings which kept Paramount from acquiring picturemaking silos like Marvel and DreamWorks Animation.
Bakish’s initiative to tie feature films to its branded networks also needs clarity. It seems likely that Bakish will make a decision soon after returning home late this week.
The changing of the guard at Paramount began with the ouster of Dauman from Viacom, Rob Moore from Paramount last year, followed by Brad Grey last month after the studio had suffered quarter after quarter in the red. Shari Redstone took control with Bakish and started immediately rebuilding the company, implementing a new philosophy of combining efforts across all Viacom labels and also pulling together an interim committee to shore up the company with shareholders until a successor could be named.