The emotional feud touched off when Viacom CEO Phillippe Dauman tried to preemptively break Steven Spielberg's heart by telling the world that the national treasure's possible departure from Paramount would not send the executive into a Valium-overdosing tailspin of despair (and which incited outraged DreamWorks partner Jeffrey Katzenberg to publicly attempt to claw out Dauman's eyes) spills into the pages of today's LAT, where studio emperor Brad Grey was induced to comment on HolyShitWhatIfSpielbergLeavesUsGate. For his part, Grey—who convinced boss Sumner Redstone to buy DreamWorks in late 2005 so that his studio might actually have some movies to release the following year—seems to be toeing the company line:
"The deal for us has been highly profitable and is ahead of schedule," Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey said in an interview Thursday. "It would always be better to have Steven and DreamWorks with us, but of course we'll be OK" if they leave. [...]
In a business as unpredictable as Hollywood, DreamWorks and Paramount could wind up having a rapprochement and drawing up new employment contracts.
Grey said he remains hopeful. "The temperature has to go down a little bit," he said. "If there's an economically prudent deal that makes sense for us, of course I want Steven and DreamWorks to be part of Viacom. No one respects Steven and David more than I do."
Should the proverbial cooler heads not prevail, look for Grey's Viacom masters to demand that their studio boss make a more dramatic display of how little a dumping by Spielberg will hurt them. Inviting all of his Paramount family to meet him for a "fun afternoon break" via an internal e-mail, hundreds of employees will join their leader around the Melrose lot's beautiful fountain, into which Grey will blithely toss each and every one of the two-hundred photographs of Spielberg that adorn his office's walls, telling his underlings, "See how much Steven means to me? Sploosh! Didn't feel a thing!" as each lovingly framed memento of their relationship sinks into its bubbling waters