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Next Gen 2010: Hollywood's Young Guns

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    TV
    Yelena Chak
    Bill Phelps
    Yelena Chak, 35
    VP drama development, CBS

    Most Seinfeld fans have a favorite Kramerism or Costanza moment. For Chak, the characters of NBC development execs Russell Dalrymple and Susan Ross left a bigger impression. "I was like, 'They have the coolest job in the world!' " says Chak, a Ukraine native who immigrated with her parents -- both engineers -- to Connecticut at age 3. "The quintessential immigrant story," Chak says. The Cornell grad and Stanford MBA eschewed a career in finance to pursue a dream of her own. She filled a UTA mailroom slot in 2002, which catapulted her into comedy development at NBC (My Name Is Earl) and later to a job as director of TV at Bruckheimer Television, where she cut her dramatic teeth on Without a Trace. At CBS since 2007, Chak has been key to its biggest current hits: The Mentalist, The Good Wife and Hawaii Five-0. The avid runner, who logs about six miles a day, knows what she's sprinting toward: a career like that of boss Nina Tassler. "She's brilliant, but she also keeps us all inspired," Chak says.

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