On Oct. 29, Brandon Tartikoff announced he was quitting as head of Paramount Pictures to spend more time with his 9-year-old daughter, Calla, still recovering from a 1991 car accident. Hollywood was stunned silent for about two seconds. Then came the speculation, fueled by the question: Come on, what’s the real reason?
*First theory: That is the real reason. Friends say Tartikoff, 43, was growing exhausted flying between New York, L.A., and his New Orleans home, where his daughter’s physical therapy continues. ”Brandon has only one child,” says a Tartikoff pal, ousted Tonight Show producer Helen Kushnick. ”He has his priorities in order.”
*Second theory: Tartikoff jumped from a sinking ship. Paramount has only one movie, the Steve Martin drama Leap of Faith, on its Christmas platter, and Tartikoff’s in-house preview of upcoming projects was called disastrous by many.
*Third theory: Tartikoff hated his bosses. Paramount president Stanley Jaffe and chairman Martin Davis are ”stereophonic screamers,” says one former Paramount executive. And reportedly, Davis was less than pleased with a photo of Tartikoff — who was hawking his autobiography — naked from the waist up in People.