WOMEN'S IMPACT REPORT
Amy Pascal, Kathleen Kennedy, Tracey Jacobs, Terry Press
By SHARON KNOLLE
chairman, SPE Motion Picture Group
Makes a difference by: Hiring more women behind-the-scenes -- including Laura Ziskin, Gurinder Chadha, Susannah Grant, Sofia Coppola, and Catherine Hardwicke -- than any other major. "For better or worse, it's been unconscious on my part," says Pascal. "I hire people who I think are right for the job. It's not like I go out there and treat it like it's a quota."
"She's had a big impact in a lot of ways. One of the things she did early on was in her championing of 'Little Women.' She fought for that movie at a time when everyone wanted to make movies for young boys and she said very loudly we can make movies for young girls," says producer Laura Ziskin.
"And with that movie the industry changed and became aware that you could make movies for young women and that they would come out if you made movies for them and they were a very targetable audience.
"At the time it was kind of revolutionary. And I think it marked the beginning of her emergence as an industry leader. Having identified that at the time was visionary on her part."
Recent accomplishments: Promoted to chairman of SPE Motion Picture Group in 2003 and the studio was No. 1 in 2004 (the year of "Spider-Man 2") and No. 2 in 2003 ("Daddy Day Care," "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," "Something's Gotta Give.") Led Sony Pictures to the highest level of operating income and cash flow in studio history in fiscal year 2005.
Along the way: Pascal was vice prexy of Production at 20th Century Fox and previously worked for producer Tony Garnett at Kestral Films. She's overseen hits such as "Groundhog Day" and "A League of Their Own." "The best advice I ever got was "'Don't try to be somebody else.' And to listen to my own inner voice and to not try to compete," says Pascal.
Point Of view: "At Sony, we worry about one movie at a time. It all begins and ends with the movie and that begins and ends with the script," explains Pascal. "If those things work and the movie makes sense and the movie works, then the slate works and then the company works. When that's cooking you're in great shape."
The secret to keeping movies well-made and profitable is to never second-guess anyone, she says. "Once you start worrying about what audiences will like and not like -- and we've made our fair share of blunders like everyone else -- you're in trouble."
Coming up: Production is underway on the highly anticipated "Da Vinci Code," and the next "Spider-Man," due in 2007, some awards season contenders for this year include Rob Marshall's epic adaptation of "Memoirs of a Geisha," and Steve Zallian's "All The King's Men" starring Sean Penn.
film producer, Producer's Guild of America president
Makes a difference by: Being the go-to person both for features and in the guild.
"Kathleen is the consummate producer," says fellow prod Lawrence Gordon, who sits with her on the Association of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and PGA boards. "She is the definition of the word producer. The job she's done as president of PGA is nothing short of spectacular and I wish she were the president of the United States."
Recent accomplishments: Co-produced Steven Spielberg's latest blockbuster, "War of the Worlds," and Oscar nominee "Seabiscuit." She was named president of the Producer's Guild in 2002 and was re-elected to the AMPAS governors board this year.
Along the way: Kennedy got her start in the biz as assistant to writer-director John Milius, then began her long association with Spielberg as his production assistant on "1941," eventually becoming one of the producers on 1982's "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" and co-founding Amblin Entertainment with Spielberg and husband and partner Frank Marshall, with whom she created the Kennedy/Marshall company in 1992. Her producing credits include "The Color Purple," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?," "Schindler's List," "Jurassic Park," "The Bridges of Madison County," and "The Sixth Sense," among others.
"She just makes movies happen," says Gordon. "I have the greatest admiration for her."
Point Of view: She's fiercely protective of her craft and profession, a stance borne out by the PGA's "Truth in Credits" campaign to eliminate superfluous prod credits, which she spearheaded. "The goal is to create a cultural change within the industry," she says, "to foster a professional culture in which giving away unearned producing credits becomes sufficiently stigmatized that the practice becomes untenable."
Coming up: Tony Scott's "Emma's War" with Nicole Kidman, Stephen King's "The Talisman" and Spielberg's upcoming film about the 1972 Munich Olympics, which is scripted by "Angels in America" scribe Tony Kushner.
Makes a difference by: Mentoring female agents on the rise.
"Tracey teaches everyone the importance of remaining consistently optimistic and passionate about your clients regardless of box office success or ratings," says UTA agent Sue Naegle. "She never ever wavers one inch in her wild enthusiasm for everything they do, and her energy is contagious."
"I didn't really have mentors coming up," says Jacobs, "so I'd like to think, in part because our agency has so many strong women, I like to feel like i'm a mentor to them, that I've earned their respect and I respect them and together, collectively, we can rule the world or at least UTA.
"But I wouldn't be so arrogant to think I'd had an impact on the industry, it would be self-aggrandizing," she says. "If I've helped women, then I feel terrific, if I've helped empower them and mentor them, if they feel I've done that, then God bless."
Recent accomplishments: Packaged "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (client Johnny Depp came aboard before there was a director or a script), "CSI" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."
"What I'm most proud of is the longevity I've had with clients. There are some I've repped for 10-15 years. I'm proud of taking eclectic clients like ('Ghost World' helmer) Terry Zwigoff and help making them successful."
Along the way: After graduating with honors from Boston University, Jacobs became the youngest copywriter to be hired at Leo Burnett in Chicago. Her agenting career began at Triad, where she represented motion picture talent until the agency dissolved four years later. She then moved to ICM where she worked for 11 years before joining UTA in 1998.
Point Of view: "We have real women power at my agency, which isn't really the case at other agencies. It's still more of a male-oriented business," says Jacobs. "Most of the women have come up through being assistants and being incredibly smart and aggressive and having good taste and now they're all incredibly successful. They all rep major stars, from Owen Wilson to Jim Carrey. I think it's pretty extraordinary."
Coming up: Depp returns with "The Libertine" and two "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels. Jason Batmen, who was Jacobs' first client, and who just re-signed with her, is up for his first Emmy nomination for "Arrested Devlopment." Seann William Scott has "Mr. Woodcock" coming out, "He's on a great path and I'm excited about that," says Jacobs.
head of marketing, DreamWorks
Makes a difference by: Smart and innovative marketing campaigns.
She took a quirky black comedy ("American Beauty") and a spear-and-sandal epic ("Gladiator") and, against all odds, turned them into huge hits and Oscar winners. Press modestly demurs, "I don't really think I've made an impact (on the industry.) I feel like I've been part of a trend. For better or worse, marketing has become a crucial part of the chain that seems to have gained in importance. People pay much more attention to marketing now than they did 20 years ago."
Recent accomplishments: She's helped the DreamWorks animation team turn into a powerhouse. Despite Wall St. headaches since its IPO, the unit has, with Press's aid, cranked out megahit "Shrek 2" and even "Shark Tale" and "Madagascar" have far surpassed expectations.
"Terry has impeccable taste and an incredible gut that when she makes a decision she exudes confidence with everyone and you always feel like you're in the best hands with her. She's got a great vocabulary in the history of moviemaking and how to best sell films," says DreamWorks president of production Adam Goodman. "The campaigns she's come up with, she's able to embrace ideas and even the most challenging of concepts."
Along the way: Press started off at the film departmant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, then followed up with stints at the Landmark Theater Chain and Crown Intl. Pictures. Hired by Disney as a staff writer in the PR department in 1987, she advanced and worked on campaigns for "Toy Story," "The Lion King," and "Beauty and the Beast," still the only animated film to be nominated for a picture Oscar.
Point Of view: Coming from Disney where animation was "part of the program," Press has worked hard to raise animation's profile in the industry. "The only bias toward animation comes from people and groups that saw the performances in them as less than other performers. But I think in the last several yearrs, as more and more famous people did voices that's changed," she says.
As far as career advice goes, Press keeps it simple: "Just to be good to the people who work for you and have a sense of humor because none of us are curing cancer."
Coming up: "I'm a classic movie geek, especially about musicals. 'That's Entertainment' changed my life. I saw it when I was 12 and I've seen it probably 100 times. So I'm really looking forward to 'DreamGirls.' Expect to see a big Oscar push for Woody Allen's latest, "Match Point." "I saw it at Cannes and knew it was a movie we could take all the way to the Oscars," says Press.
Date in print: Friday, July 29, 2005
© 2005 Reed Business Information © 2005 Variety, Inc.