As expected, Viacom Inc., the third-largest media company, has hired veteran Hollywood talent agent and producer Brad Grey as chief executive and chairman of its Paramount Motion Picture Group.

The appointment is part of the company's move to bolster a studio rebounding from recent box office flops including "The Stepford Wives."

Grey has managed the careers of stars including Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston and produced TV shows such as "The Sopranos." He is replacing Sherry Lansing, whose contract ends this year.

Paramount ranked seventh among major film studios in 2004, with ticket sales of $625 million for 17 films, according to Nielsen EDI. Grey is expected to help lure talent to Paramount.

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