Slate‘s Edward Jay Epstein has written a blunt down-to-it piece about why Paramount honcho Brad Grey really bought DreamWorks, “according to people at Viacom, Paramount’s corporate owner.” When he took over in early ’05, Grey, who’d been handed a mandate by Viacom’s Sumner Redstone “to totally revamp moviemaking at Paramount,” got rid of just about every holdover project from the Sherry Lansing-Jonathan Dolgen (like that Secret Life of Walter Mitty film with Owen Wilson) along with the execs who had nurtured them. And yet Grey so vigorously swept the decks that Paramount, as of last summer, was looking at very little product for ’06 and ’07. So Grey bought DreamWorks in large part in order to make up for this vacancy, since DreamWorks has a good number of projects in various stages of development. There’s more to it, but Epstein’s story can be summed up in these two graphs: #1: “The true brilliance of Paramount’s high-profile acquisition of DreamWorks is that it will serve to divert from, if not totally hide, Paramount’s own failure to assemble a full slate of films for 2006-2007. Compared with the public-relations cost of revealing that managerial meltdown, the $1.6 billion price tag for DreamWorks must have seemed a bargain. And #2: “When [the acquisition] deal closes, Paramount will essentially become, at least for the next two years, DreamWorks. Of course, many, if not all, of the people who work at DreamWorks will lose their jobs, and the people at Paramount who created the near-meltdown will take credit for the films they’ve acquired. But, as they say, that’s show business.”