Paula Wagner departs United Artists studio

Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:14am EDT
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By Jay A. Fernandez and Leslie Simmons

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In a move that ends her longtime business partnership with Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner is stepping down from her post as co-owner and CEO at United Artists.

Although she and Cruise were brought aboard to revive UA in November 2006, she encountered difficulties in jump-starting MGM's specialty label. Once she negotiates her exit, Wagner plans to return to producing films full time.

Moving forward, though, she won't be partnered with Cruise, whose career is looking as if it needs a makeover of its own.

Wagner's move comes just two weeks after her husband, Rick Nicita, who had been Cruise's longtime agent, exited Creative Artists Agency to join production company Morgan Creek.

With Wagner's departure so closely following Nicita's, many in Hollywood read the power couple's moves as a reflection of Cruise's unhappiness with key lieutenants in charge of his career.

While CAA's Kevin Huvane is now the lead agent at CAA overseeing Cruise's career, the actor has been actively considering projects that have no connection to UA. It's unclear whether Wagner will be replaced at the storied shingle or whether Cruise's role in the company will change.

A joint MGM-UA statement late Wednesday said that Wagner will continue to be a part owner of UA and hold a significant stake in the company's future success.

"Nothing will change in regard to Cruise's involvement with UA, and he continues to have a substantial ownership interest in the company. Furthermore, Cruise and Wagner will continue to work on film projects together."   Continued...

<p>Producer Paula Wagner poses at the red carpet during the premiere of the film "The Eye" in Los Angeles, California January 31, 2008. REUTERS / Hector Mata</p>