Paramount shake-up: Lesher, Weston out; Goodman upped
In a major shakeup at Paramount Pictures, top production executives John Lesher and Brad Weston are being ousted. Production president Adam Goodman, a former DreamWorks executive, will succeed Lesher as president of Paramount's film group.
The stunning moves, coming late on a Friday afternoon, demonstrate just how much pressure the Viacom Inc.-owned studio is under following a disappointing year.
All three senior executives had essentially been doing the same job, overseeing development and production of the studio's movie slate.
Lesher, the studio's top creative executive, is being fired just 18 months after being promoted to the job. He was called into studio chairman Brad Grey's office only moments after a report about his likely ouster appeared on Nikki Finke's Deadlinedailyhollywood.com.
Lesher had been slow to develop new movies, which was problematic given that Paramount's main supplier DreamWorks is no longer in the studio fold.
"The volume of the slate wasn't there," said a person close to the situation.
Before Grey elevated Lesher to his current job, Lesher had overseen the studio's specialty film unit Paramount Vantage, which had a couple of box office sucesses including "No Country For Old Men" and the Al Gore documentary "An Inconvienent Truth" but lost money on such releases as "A Mighty Heart," "Margot At the Wedding" and "The Dutchess."
Lesher joined Paramount after a two-decade career at a top filmmaker's agent, representing such clients as Martin Scorsese and "Babel" director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
Goodman, who was formerly the production president at DreamWorks, came to Grey's attention after Viacom acquired DreamWorks in early 2006. After DreamWorks founder Steven Spielberg left Paramount in November 2008, Grey brought Adam over to head production at the bigger studio.
-- Claudia Eller
Photo: Lesher, left, and Weston, right, with director JJ Abrams at "Star Trek" premiere