THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
Dubuc takes one cold-call meeting a month with industry aspirants who reach out to her via email. (Apologies for opening the floodgates by publicizing these random acts of generosity.) This speaks to Dubuc's work ethic while also revealing a walk-the-walk dedication to mentoring that is unusual in an industry where those who have climbed the ladder often pull it up behind them. "We all came from somewhere and it's very easy to forget that," Dubuc says. "Every industry lives on the learning of the previous generation. And I think we need to take that responsibility more seriously."
Dubuc, 42, a married mother of a 5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son, has had some teachable moments of her own this year. What was to be History's first scripted project -- the big-budget and star-studded The Kennedys -- was jettisoned after pressure from the Kennedy family. Dubuc acknowledges that the controversy got the "lion's share of media attention." But, she says, "as a leader you have to keep pushing your team and your business forward. I learned that you can't let one show or a few negative stories stand in the way of your overall vision for the business."
The much less controversial miniseries The Hatfields and McCoys, starring Kevin Costner, will bow next year on History.
And Dubuc is still attempting to rebuild Lifetime, which became part of her portfolio last May. The network is ranked No. 6 among its core viewership of women 25–54. But Dubuc would like to see it become the powerhouse that History is: double-digit year-over-year ratings growth, ranking among cable's top four networks in all key demographics (viewers 18–49 and 25–54 and men 18–49 and 25–54), and on track to end the year with its highest-rated primetime ever thanks to the continued success of shows like Pawn Stars, American Pickers and Swamp People.
Lifetime has a flurry of projects in the pipeline including the Renee Zellweger–produced Cinnamon Girl (set in the 1960s and based on the actress' journey from small-town Texas to Hollywood) and the Jennifer Love Hewitt drama The Client List (about a homemaker-turned-prostitute), which is set to bow in 2012. These projects come on the heels of the breast-cancer anthology Five, which bowed in October and featured short films directed by Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Keys and Demi Moore. Five may not have burned up the ratings charts, but Dubuc says she "gravitated to it because -- and this is no disrespect to any of the organizations that have fought so hard to eradicate this disease -- it was a project that didn't come from a 'pink-ribbon' point of view."
To that end, Dubuc and her team have spent considerable energy dispelling calcified notions among those in the creative community about what a Lifetime project should be. "As soon as you say, 'This is right for Lifetime,' it's not right for Lifetime," she says. "I know what the backend of that sentence really means. We want to be vying for the greatest creative projects available in town that speak to our audience and the audience that we want to attract."
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