LOS ANGELES -- Sherry Lansing, a powerful studio boss who led the career path for female Hollywood executives, will leave her post as chairwoman of Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures at the end of next year when her contract expires.
Her disclosure yesterday followed several management shakeups at Viacom, including the departure of Jonathan Dolgen, who had shared power with Lansing at Paramount and left shortly after Tom Freston and Les Moonves were made copresidents of Viacom in June.
It also followed several years of lackluster performance at Paramount and pledges by Freston and Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone to revitalize the ailing studio.
Lansing, 60, said she will remain with Paramount until her contract expires and will help find a successor. Lansing is a former actress and model who held the top film jobs at three studios during her career.
''I'll have been in this job for 12 years and have had the opportunity and the privilege to work with the very best the entertainment industry has to offer," Lansing said in a statement. ''But now it is time for new challenges."
Lansing became the first female president of production for a Hollywood studio in 1980 when she was named to that job at 20th Century Fox Productions.
She later became a partner with producer Stanley Jaffe in 1983 and they made such films as ''Fatal Attraction" and ''The Accused." Jaffe was named president of the former Paramount Communications and in 1992 he made Lansing studio chief. She was a key player in the Oscar-winning blockbusters ''Titanic," ''Braveheart," and ''Saving Private Ryan."
Lansing, who broke into Hollywood in the late 1960s after being a math teacher, has been a role model in the film industry. She helped pave the way for female studio chiefs, including Columbia Pictures' Amy Pascal, Universal Pictures chairwoman Stacey Snider, and the late Columbia Pictures head Dawn Steel.
Viacom shares were up 39 cents yesterday to close at $37.12 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.