Gail Berman, one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, resigned on Wednesday as president of Paramount Pictures after less than two years on the job as the film studio made way for an executive overhaul.
A statement issued by the Viacom Inc.-owned film company said a "reorganization of the studio's production structure will be announced shortly," but no specific reason for Berman's departure was given.
Berman, 49, has been the focus of scrutiny almost from the moment she assumed the Paramount job in May 2005. In the past year, several reports have surfaced around Hollywood that the former Fox TV executive had a difficult time working with movie agents, talent managers and others.
"Gail's dedication in the last 18 months has been invaluable during this important and historic time at Paramount," said studio Chairman and CEO Brad Gray, who hand-picked Berman shortly after taking over from longtime studio boss Sherry Lansing in March 2005.
Berman's departure comes just four months after an executive shake-up at Paramount's corporate parent, in which Grey's boss, mentor and friend, Tom Freston, was ousted as Viacom president and CEO by Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone.
As president of Paramount, Berman was one of the few women in Hollywood with the power to put motion pictures into production, overseeing development, budgeting and casting of those films.
A former talent manager herself who oversaw the rise of hit TV shows such as "American Idol" while head of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Co., Berman was the first female executive to hold top posts at both a major network and a major movie studio.
The Los Angeles Times, citing four unnamed sources, said on Wednesday that Berman began making plans late last month to leave Paramount and form her own production company.
The Hollywood Reporter, also citing unnamed sources, said she was already negotiating to terminate her contract. That contract had two years left, according to reports.
A spokeswoman for Paramount declined to comment further on Berman's departure. A Viacom spokesman, likewise, offered no further details.
Berman was chosen by Gray to run the movie operations for reasons that included her track record developing shows at Fox that attracted hard-to-reach younger viewers. Fox is a unit of News Corp..
At Paramount, her tenure met with some success. She oversaw the relatively low-budget Nacho Libre, starring Jack Black, which posted $80 million in domestic ticket sales.
The studio also released the Tom Cruise action sequel Mission: Impossible III, which was only a modest performer in the United States and Canada with $133 million, but was a big hit internationally with a $264 million box office.
Yet this past August, Cruise and Paramount severed ties, and Paramount's acquisition of the DreamWorks movie studio brought in some major executive talent, including former Universal Pictures chief Stacey Snider.
The Los Angeles Times said it was unclear who might be in line to take Berman's job, but it mentioned two top Paramount executives, Rob Moore and Brad Weston, as possible candidates.