"We fail more than we succeed in show business, but every now and then we really succeed." ~ Brad Grey
Brad Grey is CEO of Paramount Pictures since 2005, but I've known about him for longer than that. Members of my family worked for him for years when he had a second or third home in Deer Valley, Utah, and I picked up on legends of his success that have become part of my own success story and entertainment philosophy.
A quick review of Brad's filmography on IMDB suggests he has had an anything but ordinary career in Hollywood. In 2002, three years prior to becoming CEO of Paramount, Brad Grey partnered with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston in Plan B Entertainment (Troy, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Time Traveler's Wife, Eat/Pray/Love), and had a first look deal with Paramount.
In an interview with Charlie Rose on February 3, 2000, Brad Grey suggests that his focus has long been talent development, which is likely part of what attracts partnerships with stars like Pitt and Aniston. At Brillstein-Grey, the successful talent management organization he co-founded and later bought out, he developed a philosophy of talent advancement that helped skyrocket him and others to success. Prior to Brillstein-Grey, Brad got his start doing concert promotion with Harvey Weinstein, before either got into motion pictures.
In a separate interview with Deadline Hollywood, Grey said he grew "up in the business representing talent and nurturing talent and surrounding myself with the best in talent." It occurs to me after reading what he has to say about talent that the industry is really not about making movies, but about promoting exceptional artists via their work (and making money for stakeholders doing it.) Talent is the raw creative material from which movies are made, and if you don't respect that, you won't get far in the business and you won't know how to do your job, especially as CEO of a studio as big as Paramount.
Brad Grey is most famous for producing the HBO series The Sopranos, but has also been Executive Producer on hits like Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer, all prior to joining Paramount.
Since joining Paramount as CEO, the studio has gone from last place to first in box office, in spite of controversial staff cuts. However, who better to decide who to keep and who to cut than a talent expert? Paramount has had 18 to 22 Academy Award nominations each of the last three years, and in 2011 had two nominees for Best Picture. They've also had a string of big box office hits such as their top grossing film Transformers III: Dark of the Moon, with more coming.
I look forward to studying more of the talent side of the business, and will keep an eye out for more entertainment business intelligence from Brad Grey. In the meantime, here are a few links and interviews for those who want to learn more about this once boy from the Bronx, now movie mogul.
A conversation with Brad Grey (Video), Charlie Rose, February 3, 2000
An interview with Brad Grey (Video), Charlie Rose, March 2, 2001
The official bio of Brad Grey from Paramount Pictures' website
Remaking Paramount by the Seat of His Pants, New York Times, January 13, 2008
OSCAR MOGULS: Brad Grey Q&A, Deadline Hollywood, February 13, 2011
Brad Grey's IMDB filmography and bio
Hollywood Hit Man
Paramount Pictures Finds Long-Sought Balance
Brad Grey, Wikipedia article (not a major source, but I found some article leads here)