Former Paramount chief to form new entertainment company

Gail Berman will team up with former ABC Entertainment chairman Lloyd Braun to create BermanBraun.

By Claudia Eller and Meg James
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 29, 2007






Hollywood is full of surprising plot twists. This one involves Gail Berman, who recently stepped down as president of Paramount Pictures after only two years on the job.

Berman is forming a new entertainment company with the person who recommended her for the Paramount post: Lloyd Braun, the former ABC Entertainment chairman who recently resigned as head of Yahoo!'s media group. The new enterprise will be called BermanBraun.

Unlike so many other Hollywood production deals, which are owned by the major media companies, Berman and Braun will own a major stake in their firm and plan to bring in other investors or strategic partners.

The union brings together two of the television industry's highest-profile executives. Their new company will focus heavily on TV production, the Internet and movies, with plans to expand into stage productions and video gaming.

Both Berman and Braun declined to comment Monday.

Before joining Paramount, Berman was responsible for prime-time programming for the Fox broadcast network, where she is credited with putting such hit shows on the air as "24," "House" and "American Idol."

Prior to being forced out of Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, Braun came up with the concept for "Lost" and recruited hotshot writer-director-producer J.J. Abrams to develop the show. "Lost" went on to turn around the fortunes of ABC, which at the time was in last place among the major networks.

The pair is looking for a studio home for the company and is in discussions with Fox, Warner Bros., CBS and NBC Universal, where the two executives over the years have enjoyed strong relationships. But Not surprising, ABC is not on the list of contenders as a result of a very public falling out between Braun and Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger.

Nor is Berman in conversations about any deal with her former boss, Paramount Chairman Brad Grey, despite Braun's close ties with the movie boss. Shortly after Grey took over Paramount in March 2005, Braun suggested that Grey hire Berman because of her creative chops despite her lack of movie experience.

In the mid-1990s, Braun worked for Grey and was instrumental in forming Brillstein-Grey Entertainment's television division, where he oversaw the development and production of such shows as "NewsRadio," "Just Shoot Me," and the HBO blockbuster "The Sopranos."
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