In the latest blow to the NBC Universal empire, Universal Studio Chairman Stacey Snider announced on Sunday that she has decided to leave the studio to become CEO and co-chairman (with David Geffen and Steven Spielberg) of DreamWorks. Viacom's Paramount Studios acquired DreamWorks in December for $1.6 billion, snatching the studio away from Universal, which had been negotiating to buy it, but whose corporate parent, GE, had reportedly blinked at the pricetag. The Wall Street Journal observed in its weekend edition that some senior executives at Universal, presumably including Snider, had staked their careers on the deal to acquire DreamWorks, "and came to believe, after it fell through, that GE doesn't consider the movie business a priority." Snider told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times that after making frequent presentations to GE brass, she concluded that the corporate style did not "suit my personality" and that losing the deal to buy DreamWorks "forced me to think about my future differently." In an interview with Daily Variety, Paramount Chairman Brad Grey said that Snider's contract will not start until her contract with Universal expires in December. "If she's free sooner than that, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it." In a statement to the Times, Spielberg said: "Stacey has a unique combination in a film executive in that she recognizes a need to make commercial movies, but also aspires to make art. She recognized that balance is good." The newspaper observed that she will earn a base salary of $2.5 to $3 million annually, far less than her Universal paycheck but certain lucrative incentives were believed to have been written into her new contract.
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