Paramount Pictures, seeking to revive its middling performance, announced it has signed NBC Entertainment Chairman Brandon Tartikoff, the most successful television executive of the past decade.
Tartikoff will leave NBC on June 30 to take the helm at Paramount, which has turned out a series of high-priced box office duds during the past year, including "Days of Thunder," "The Two Jakes," "Flight of the Intruder," "The Godfather Part III" and "Another 48 HRS."The move comes at a time when Martin S. Davis, the chairman of parent Paramount Communications, has come under fire for failing to move aggressively in upgrading the studio when two rivals - Universal and Columbia - have been taken over by huge Japanese electronics companies.
The announcement had been widely expected as reports emerged in recent weeks that the studio was actively courting 42-year-old Tartikoff, credited with NBC's ratings dominance during the 1980s, to replace Frank Mancuso.
Paramount already produces some of the top first-run syndicated shows, including "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "The Arsenio Hall Show," "Entertainment Tonight," "Hard Copy" and "The Maury Povich Show."
Tartikoff is credited, along with former NBC Chairman Grant Tinker, with reviving the network's prime-time schedule in the early 1980s. For the past six years, NBC has been the No. 1 network in prime time, although in recent seasons its margin of victory has significantly diminished.
Last summer, Tartikoff was elevated to the position of chairman of NBC Entertainment, a move that greatly expanded his reach over the network's news and entertainment operations. His new post will give him oversight of motion picture and TV production, syndication, cable TV and theatrical exhibition.
Tartikoff joined NBC in September 1977 as director of comedy programming and became president of NBC Entertainment in January 1980. Under his leadership, NBC has won the prime-time ratings battle every year since the start of the 1985-86 fall television season.
Some of his hit shows include "Cheers" and "Family Ties" (produced by Paramount Television), "Hill Street Blues," "St. Elsewhere," "The Golden Girls," "The Cosby Show," "Miami Vice," "ALF" and "L.A. Law."
"Running a major studio, particularly at this time of unprecedented change in the entertainment business, is an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Tartikoff said.
"It is something I have thought about for a long time."