Nickelodeon boss Brian Robbins set to lead Paramount

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Paramount Pictures President and CEO Jim Gianopulos will be leaving the ViacomCBS-owned studio, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not allowed to comment.

Parent company ViacomCBS is expected to appoint Brian Robbins, currently president and CEO of Nickelodeon, to replace Gianopulos, people familiar with the plans said. ViacomCBS could announce the appointment as early as next week.

Robbins, an executive with honed skills in the worlds of digital entertainment and traditional film and television, is an ideal candidate for the position as ViacomCBS turns to the Paramount studio to help expand streaming services such as Paramount +.

A former actor and director, Robbins is considered a rising star within ViacomCBS. He took over as chairman of Nickelodeon in 2018, putting him in the position of trying to revive a cable network that had long struggled to reach the heights of its heyday of the 1990s. The following year he was chosen to a larger role as chair of children and family entertainment for the Combined ViacomCBS.

He will remain in charge of the company’s Nickelodeon TV empire when he takes the reins of Paramount, one of those familiar with the matter said.

Gianopulos joined Paramount in 2017 when Viacom was still separated from CBS. Viacom CEO Bob Bakish hired Gianopulos, who had previously been kicked out of 20th Century Fox Film after a long period of overseeing hits such as “Avatar” and “Deadpool”.

A respected executive known for his business skills, Gianopulos has made it his mission to revive Paramount. The studio had struggled for years under former Viacom executives, who favored belt tightening and share buybacks, and struggled to compete at the box office with rivals such as Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. . who had invested heavily in film franchises.

Since then, the studio – known for its mountain logo, famous doors on Melrose Avenue, and classic films such as “The Godfather” – has resisted its parent company’s merger with CBS Corp., the COVID pandemic. 19 and the rise of streaming which fundamentally changed the movie business.

Executives and agents credited Gianopulos with improving relations with Paramount filmmakers. The studio returned to profitability under his leadership. But his desire to protect films and filmmakers from corporate mandates to boost streaming business has caused friction, people familiar with the matter said.

In contrast, Robbins would be more willing to embrace the digital revolution in Hollywood. Robbins is widely credited with the success of “Paw Patrol: The Movie,” based on the Nickelodeon show of the same name, which garnered significant memberships on Paramount + when it was recently premiered on the platform alongside its release. in theaters.

Before the pandemic shut down theaters, Paramount enjoyed major success with “Sonic the Hedgehog,” a live-action and computer-animated hybrid based on the classic Sega video game. The May release of “A Quiet Place Part II” was a rare box office success for an industry that had consistently suffered from low theater attendance as theaters attempted to reopen. Other hits released under Gianopulos’ watch include Elton John’s biopic “Rocketman” and the sixth film “Mission: Impossible”.

Amid the continuing coronavirus crisis, Paramount has delayed several of its biggest movies, including “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible 7”. Paramount recently delayed the release of the “Top Gun” sequel, with Tom Cruise reprising his lead role, from November through May. “Snake Eyes,” a spin-off based on a GI Joe villain, failed in theaters when it released in July.

To deal with the pandemic, Paramount sold Michael B. Jordan’s thriller “No remorse” and Eddie Murphy’s sequel “Coming 2 America” ​​to Amazon Prime.

ViacomCBS is working to compete in streaming with Paramount +, renamed from CBS All Access earlier this year. The service, which costs $ 5 per month for its ad-supported level, boasted of having 2,500 films by the end of the summer, including classics from Paramount and films from other studios.

Having new movies at the same time as theaters has been a big boost for WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, which has put its entire 2021 movie lineup on the service and in theaters simultaneously; and Disney +, which released “Black Widow” and “Jungle Cruise” alongside multiplexes for $ 30. Universal Pictures’ “Halloween Kills” will become Peacock and parent company NBCUniversal theaters at the same time in October.

Robbins, whose promotion was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, has reportedly been interested in the Paramount job for some time. His career, which spans television, filmmaking and digital media, has helped make him a prime candidate for ViacomCBS, which is controlled by Shari Redstone, the daughter of the late media mogul Sumner Redstone.

The Brooklyn native began his career as a child actor in the 1980s, most notably in an ABC sitcom, “Head of the Class.” He has directed films such as “Varsity Blues” and “Norbit” and has produced shows for young adults including “Smallville”, “One Tree Hill” and “What I Like About You”.

In 2012, Robbins, along with his production partner Joe Davola, created an online network called AwesomenessTV with game shows and comedy skits to attract viewers who turned away from Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central and turned to YouTube.

AwesomenessTV has changed ownership several times and has faced the same challenges as other companies that emerged during the fleeting boom in so-called multichannel networks. The company was bought by DreamWorks Animation, which was absorbed by Comcast Corp., which then sold AwesomenessTV to Viacom.

While Robbins’ resume includes several directing credits, one thing he lacks is the experience of running a large film studio. While this would once have been seen as a mark against him, in the modern streaming age it might have been an advantage, according to insiders.

Robbins is no stranger to Paramount. Prior to joining Nickelodeon, he was the head of Paramount Players, a unit of the studio created to harness Viacom cable brands such as MTV and Nickelodeon for film projects.

People who have worked with Robbins describe him as a modern, forward-thinking entertainment executive ready to try new ways of doing things and listen to employee ideas.

When he was running Paramount Players, for example, he championed the idea of ​​modifying Mel Gibson’s film “What Women Want” through black entertainment brand BET. The Robbins division took the idea and did “What Men Want,” a concept review from a black woman’s perspective, starring Taraji P. Henson and Tracy Morgan.


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