BERMAN TOPPLED AT PARAMOUNT

Another shake-up has jolted the executive peak of the Paramount mountain. The studio announced late Wednesday that Paramount Pictures President Gail Berman had resigned after 18 months -- with two years remaining on her contract. Allison Shearmur, co-president of production at Paramount, was also forced out. Paramount Chairman and CEO Brad Grey had personally selected Berman to become the studio's No. 2 executive shortly after he succeeded Sherry Lansing in 2005. But Berman's background had been television, not film (she had previously served as entertainment president at Fox) and reportedly exhibited many of the high-handed traits associated with TV executives. Today's (Thursday) New York Post quoted a source as saying, "The town never adapted to working with her." And the Los Angeles Daily News commented that she and Grey "had reportedly been experiencing a rapidly deteriorating working relationship," especially following Paramount's acquisition of DreamWorks Pictures, which reduced the importance of Berman's role at the company. She will not be replaced. In an interview with today's Los Angeles Times, Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone supported Berman's ouster. "If Brad decided she was not for Paramount, then Brad was right," he said. "Brad's the boss." But Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen, in a report to clients dispatched late Wednesday, said that she viewed Berman's exit as "an incremental negative" for Viacom, Paramount's corporate parent, "as it appears management turmoil continues. ... Ms. Berman is an extremely creative executive."

NEW LINE CHIEF: JACKSON WON'T DIRECT HOBBIT "ON MY WATCH"

New Line Co-chairman Bob Shaye has made it clear that his decision not to bring back Peter Jackson to direct the Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit is final and not just a negotiating ploy. In an interview with the online Sci-Fi Wire, Shaye said that hiring Jackson for The Hobbit "will never happen during my watch." He claimed that Jackson had received "a quarter of a billion dollars paid to him so far, justifiably, according to contract, completely right, and this guy ... turns around without wanting to have a discussion with us and sues us and refused to discuss it unless we just give in to his plan. ... I don't want to work with that guy anymore." Shaye then emphasized: "He will never make any movie with New Line Cinema again while I'm still working at the company." Jackson quickly fired back that he had tried to discuss the issues with New Line "for over a year, but the studio was and continues to be completely uncooperative."

SCRIPT COMPLETED FOR STAR TREK XI

Director J.J. Abrams has confirmed that the script for Star Trek XI has been completed, that it will concern Capt. Kirk and Spock as very young men, that shooting will begin this year, and that the movie is targeted for release in 2008. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Abrams said that the story will satisfy even non-Trekkers. "On the one hand, for people who love Star Trek, the fix that they will get will be really satisfying,'' he told the magazine. ''For people who've never seen it or know it vaguely, I think they will enjoy it equally, because the movie does not require you to know anything about Star Trek. I would actually prefer [that] people don't know the series, because I feel like they will come to it with an open mind."

NO LUCRE FOR GLOBES PRESENTERS THIS YEAR

Presenters at this year's Golden Globes will not receive the usual "swag bags" worth thousands of dollars that they had received in the past, following a decision by the IRS that the loot in those bags must be reported as income. Instead, the presenters will receive smaller gift bags worth about $600 each, in which the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which stages the ceremonies, will include 1099 tax forms. Daily Variety also reported today (Thursday) that the HFPA, itself often criticized as an organization founded by freeloaders, will pay the income taxes for the gift boxes that were presented in 2004 and 2005.

BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL SELECTS PIAF BIOPIC FOR OPENING NIGHT

La Vie en Rose, a biopic of legendary French chanteuse Edith Piaf, starring Marion Cotillard as Piaf, will open the Berlin Film Festival on Feb. 8 and compete for the festival's Golden Bear award, the festival announced Wednesday. The film, by director Olivier Dahan, costars Gérard Depardieu, Silvie Testud and Emmanuelle Seigner.

Brian B.