Next Gen 2011: Hollywood's Fastest-Rising Stars
In 2003, Neustadter, 32, quit grad school, worked at a brewhouse in Bloomington, Ind., and had dreams of becoming a screenwriter. A chance encounter with a customer led him to meet then-New Line story editor Luke Ryan, in town for a cousin's graduation. That connection set Neustadter on a twisty road that saw him move to Los Angeles and land an internship at New Line. In 2004, he became an assistant to the company's Richard Brener. Now, the single Neustadter, who survived the downsizing of the company and its absorption into Warner Bros., helps keep New Line's comedy and horror roots alive. He oversaw Nightmare on Elm Street and Final Destination, and is shepherding the Steve Carell magician comedy Burt Wonderstone, the ensemble comedy We're the Millers and The Conjuring, a horror thriller to be directed by James Wan. The most important business lesson Neustadter learned came from Brener. "To quote my mentor, 'Never burn bridges, always hold grudges, and never in writing.' Especially in e-mails," he says. "Everyone forwards everything!"