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FOX ENTERTAINMENT CHIEF TO LEAVE NETWORK

Gail Berman to Join Paramount Pictures

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The entertainment president of the Fox Broadcasting Co., Gail Berman, is preparing to leave the News Corp. TV network to join Viacom’s Paramount Pictures.
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As recently as a few weeks ago, Ms. Berman was drawing up new long-term contracts with her key senior staff, among them casting head Marcia Shulman and Marcy Ross, senior vice president for current programming.

Celebrated 'American Idol' ratings
When ratings for the season premiere of the network's hit reality show American Idol drew its largest audience ever, Ms. Berman celebrated the event with News Corp. Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch. It was no secret, however, that Ms. Berman’s contract with Fox Broadcasting was due to expire this summer.

The departure is a blow to Fox, which just rolled out its development slate of upcoming programming for media buyers. Ms. Berman was a key figure at Fox’s "upfront" presentation last year. (The upfront is the ad-buying carnival when networks look to sell most of their ad space ahead of the upcoming fall season.)

Ms. Berman is credited with helping to make American Idol and The O.C. a success. The network aced the February sweeps this year in the advertiser-coveted demographic of 18- to 49-year-olds on the back of the juggernaut reality show and its Super Bowl coverage.

Network struggles with new shows
Ms.Berman also brought House, a medical drama produced by NBC Universal, to the network. But the network has struggled to gain any traction with its summer schedule or its early fall programming.

Once Ms. Berman’s deal with Paramount is completed, she’ll be the first big-name hire for Brad Grey, who was named chairman-CEO of the movie studio in January. Mr. Grey, who reports to Viacom's co-chief operating officer Tom Freston, was previously a Hollywood producer, who worked through Brillstein-Grey Entertainment. He produced The Sopranos and the upcoming movie Charle and the Chocolate Factory.

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