After more than a decade running Paramount Pictures as chairman of its motion picture group, Sherry Lansing announced Nov. 2 that she plans to step down when her contract expires at the end of next ye

(The Hollywood Reporter) -- After more than a decade running Paramount Pictures as chairman of its motion picture group, Sherry Lansing announced Nov. 2 that she plans to step down when her contract expires at the end of next year.

While Paramount has been suffering through a box-office drought, the timing of Lansing's announcement still caught many off guard. According to Lansing, though, she was not responding to any of Paramount's immediate difficulties, but rather following a desire she has long harbored to pursue a new chapter in her life beyond the job that originally established her as Hollywood's pre-eminent woman executive when she first accepted it in 1992.

"I've always had this plan that I would leave at the end of my current contract," says Lansing, who celebrated her 60th birthdayover the summer. "I'd always said I would leave at 60 because I want to have a third chapter in my life."

Although the usual scenario would see her trading in her executive stripes for a producing pact, Lansing, who said she hasn't decided her future course, is expected instead to pursue her long-standing interests in philanthropy or politics.

Lansing became the first woman to head a studio when she stepped into the Paramount post after a successful producing career turning out hits like "Indecent Proposal," "Fatal Attraction" and "The Accused." But even before that, Lansing, a former actress, broke down barriers when she became the first woman to head production at a major studio in 1980, when she was named president of 20th Century Fox Productions.

During her time at Paramount, the studio picked up three Academy Awards -- for 1994's "Forrest Gump," 1995's "Braveheart" and 1997's "Titanic," which Paramount shrewdly chose to partner on with 20th Century Fox. It also earned best-picture nominations for 1998's "Saving Private Ryan" and 2002's "The Hours."

Liza Foreman contributed to this report.