A New Endeavor for Lesher, of Paramount Importance…

EXCLUSIVE: FishbowlLA has learned that Endeavor partner and motion picture department co-head John Lesher is leaving the agency to become a motion picture production executive at Paramount.

Lesher, whose exit has been rumored for months, carries an enviable client list of indie-darling writer/directors, including Martin Scorsese, PT Anderson, Mark Romanek (“One Hour Photo”), Fernando Meirelles (“City of God”), Walter Salles (“Central Station”), Patrick Marber (“Closer”), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“21 grams”), and David O. Russell (“Three Kings”).


(Above: Marty “Are you representin’ me? Are you representin’ me!?!” Scorsese)

Insiders say that Lesher has likely signed an agreement with Endeavor that gives him some percentage of his clients future commissions, so he is definitely incentivized to direct his directors to stay. But as one rival agent put it, “The chum is SO in the water.”

Of course, Lesher’s arrival at Viacom is in keeping with Paramount chairman Brad Grey‘s maxim of hiring those bereft of any actual filmmaking experience: Like Par prexy Gail Berman, (who at least greennlit TV shows at Fox), Lesher has never produced or overseen a film.

Lesher left Harvard directly for United Talent Agency, then decamped for Endeavor in 2002. The results on screen in a year’s time should be fascinating.

Amusingly enough, Variety co-incidentally carries a lenghty sit-down interview with Paramount president Berman today, but no mention is made of the Par Classics firings or the Lesher arrival.

No word yet on Lesher’s actual job title, but he will run Paramount Classics (which last month fired co-presidentsRuth Vitale and David Dinerstein). However, Par Classics is likely to change its mandate substantially under Lesher, because insiders say Par is keen to maximize brands previously neglected when it came to films, i.e. cable channels BET, MTV, and Nickelodeon.

Gentlemen, start your Blackberrys! Let the poaching begin!