Viacom’s Paramount Pictures wants to get back into the TV business. CEO Brad Grey, a prominent former TV producer himself, is looking to build a new TV division to insulate the studio from the lagging film industry. The Wrap reports he is said to be meeting with candidates who could run the new TV studio, reviving a business that Paramount successfully ran for decades until the end of 2005 when Viacom and CBS were split into two distinct companies. Viacom kept Paramount’s film business, and CBS inherited the TV production side.
Grey acknowledged at a recent company town hall alongside Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman that it would “absolutely” make sense for Paramount to get more involved in TV production, and the executive has been discussing it openly with colleagues.
“Their dream is to bring a TV company back,” The Wrap source said of Paramount executives, who remember when the company produced hits like “Happy Days” and “Taxi,” which drove long-tail revenue for decades. “They haven’t figured out how to do it, but they definitely want do it.”
Paramount parent Viacom owns profitable cable networks including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. While rival studios like Warner Bros. and Sony operate both film and television production studios, Paramount does not.
Financially, the strategy makes sense. “They have the ability to hire the people who know that business very well, but it takes quite a while to do it,” Hal Vogel, CEO of Vogel Capital Management, told TheWrap. “You first incur the expense of hiring people and then the expense of developing pilots. But once you have one of those hits, it’s an oil well.”
Individuals close to Grey told TheWrap that the build will take up to five years and be treated like a startup. The studio recently signed on to co-finance and co-produce an upcoming TV series based on Paramount’s hit film “Beverly Hills Cop.”
As for who would run the division, Grey is looking for a creative executive rather than a seasoned administrator, according to the story.