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Photo by John Schreiber.

Gary Barber, who helped rebuild MGM studios, is stepping down as chief executive in a surprise shakeup.

The board of directors of MGM Holdings says Barber will be replaced after eight years as CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and that it had launched a search for his replacement, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. In the meantime, a group of division heads and senior executives will carry out MGM’s “strategic initiatives,” the  company said.

No reason was given for the move, which comes just five months after Barber’s contract was extended through 2022, according to The Times.

Barber joined MGM in December 2010 after the company’s emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Since then, he has led the effort to revive the studio, which has enjoyed a resurgence in the television business with hit shows including FX’s “Fargo.” MGM also produced Hulu’s acclaimed series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which last year became the first streaming show to win the Emmy for best drama.

In a statement quoted by The Times, the company said the leadership change would help usher in a new phase of growth.

“Over the past eight years, MGM has successfully built a world class company and talented team,” said Chairman Kevin Ulrich. “With this transformation complete, MGM is uniquely positioned for exceptional future growth in the evolving entertainment landscape. Now is the right time to enable the next generation of leadership who can help drive the creativity, collaboration and partnership needed to continue the company’s positive trajectory.”

—City News Service

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