Copyright 2004

[ November 3rd 2004 ]

Sherry Lansing, who broke Hollywood's glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to head production at a major studio, will step down as chairman of Paramount Pictures next year, Paramount's parent company Viacom Inc. said on Tuesday. Lansing, one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood and a model for women in the industry, will leave at the end of 2005 when her contract expires and after she helps the company find a successor, the statement said.

In a statement, Lansing said, "After a great deal of thought, I informed Tom Freston (Viacom co-president and her boss) that I do not intend to renew my contract. In order to effect a smooth transition, I wanted to inform the company of my decision and give them adequate time to find a successor." Lansing added, "I'll have been in this job for 12 years and have had the opportunity and the privilege to work with the very best the entertainment industry has to offer... But now is the time for new challenges. I am extremely excited about the months ahead and planning the next chapter in my life."

The 60-year-old executive, who played a prominent role in getting such films as "Forrest Gump," "Titanic" and 'Fatal Attraction" made, became the first female head of production at a studio in 1980 when she was named president of 20th Century Fox. In 1992 she was named chairman and chief executive officer of Paramount Pictures. In 1994 she scored a major hit with "Forrest Gump" and in 1997 the studio shared a huge profit "Titanic." But in the last two years, Paramount's fortunes have suffered because of a string of flops that included "The Stepford Wives,' "The Four Feathers," "Narc," and "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life."

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