Paramount Pictures president Gail Berman steps down

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Paramount Pictures Corp. President Gail Berman has stepped down, effective immediately, the film studio said Wednesday.

Berman’s departure comes 18 months since she joined Paramount with a mandate to turn the ailing studio around.

Paramount did not specify why Berman was stepping down, nor who would take over her duties in the near term.

In a statement, Brad Grey, Paramount’s chairman and CEO, said a “reorganization of the studio’s production structure” would be announced shortly. The statement did not elaborate on what changes might be made.

“Gail’s dedication in the last 18 months has been invaluable during this important and historic time at Paramount,” Grey said. “We respect and appreciate her contributions in reshaping the direction of Paramount Pictures.”

The Paramount statement credited Berman with helping improve fortunes at the studio through a spate of recent films, including “Nacho Libre,” “Dreamgirls,” and “World Trade Center.”

In the studio’s statement, Berman said she was grateful “for the chance to help bring great films to life and look forward to new professional opportunities ahead.”

She did not say why she was leaving Paramount.

Calls to a Paramount spokeswoman were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Berman was Grey’s first high-profile hire at Paramount. Both executives came from the world of television.

Prior to joining Fox, Berman served as president of entertainment for the Fox Broadcasting Co. for five years.

As a producer, she helped develop the TV shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Malcolm in the Middle.” She had had mixed results at Fox, especially with introducing a year-round schedule.

When she joined Paramount in 2005, Berman was the first female executive to have held the top posts at a major film studio and television network.

Paramount is a unit of Viacom Inc., which also owns CBS, MTV and other media outlets.

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