Next Gen 2012: Hollywood's Fastest-Rising Stars

10:46 AM 11/7/2012

by THR Staff

Bright young things? Bring 'em on, as The Hollywood Reporter recognizes the 50 superstars 35 and under who are moving up fast (and having fun) in film, TV, digital, law and news.

From left: CAA's Michael Kives, ICM's Michael Kagan, Gersh's Randi Goldstein, WME's Theresa Kang, UTA's Allan Haldeman, APA's Brian Dow, Paradigm's Jason Cunningham.
Austin Hargrave

The Hollywood Reporter's annual Next Generation list - photographed on stage 11 at the Twentieth Century Fox lot. Edited by Leslie Bruce and Lacey Rose; Photographed by Austin Hargrave. Styling by George Kosiopolous.

VIDEO: Behind the Scenes of THR's Next Gen Photo Shoot

PHOTOS: THR's Next Gen Class of 2012

Next Gen 2012: Hollywood's Fastest-Rising Stars: full list
  • Agents
  • Digital
  • Film
  • Legal
  • Management
  • Publicity
  • TV
  • Writers and Directors
  • Actresses
  • Actors
  • Allan Haldeman

    UTA, Television Agent

    Jessica Chou

    Haldeman, 30, has carved a successful niche developing television careers for such young comics as Amy Schumer and Anthony Jeselnik, who are working on Comedy Central projects. The well-respected Pasadena native also helped identify the group Mail Order Comedy (creators of Comedy Central's breakout Workaholics) from the web.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: UTA's Matt Rice and Microsoft's Blair Westlake, who told me that the most important thing is to find a great mentor.

    BIG BREAK: Meeting Michael Conway, who runs HR here, on the way back from lunch with a friend at UTA. He talked to me for 15 minutes and offered me a job. I was a senior at Penn at the time with some sweet hair and a puka-shell necklace. [He has been at UTA ever since.]

    BEST ADVICE: Sue Naegle, Jay Sures and Matt all said: "You've got to be nice. It's going to get you a lot further."

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: On the same day, Comedy Central picked up Amy Schumer's and Anthony Jeselnik's shows.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: SportsCenter. And if I'm ever flipping around and I find Saved by the Bell, I have to stop and watch the entire episode.

    LUNCH SPOT: I've got to go with Cole's French Dip.

    I WAKE UP AT: 6 a.m.

    THE FIRST THING I DO: Walk the dog and call my girlfriend in D.C.

  • Brian Dow

    APA, Partner/ Board Director/ Head of Branded Lifestyle Division

    Jessica Chou

    His client roster -- past and present -- is a virtual who's who of reality television (save for Alyson Hannigan). In addition to the never-ending expansion of the behemoth Kardashian brand, the Valencia, Calif., native (who started his career at UTA before heading to APA and was promoted to the latter's board of directors in October) was the driving force behind Bethenny Frankel's jaw-dropping $120 million Skinnygirl sale.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: APA's Jim Gosnell. I remember venting to him about work, and he just looked at me. I thought, "Ah, I'm complaining to the wrong person." Every time I'm in his office, he's making a client deal, but he is still incredibly involved in the company. That's rare.

    BIG BREAK: Surviving Sharon Sheinwold's desk at UTA. She was really hard on me but always had my back. It was incredibly difficult, but I wouldn't give that up for anything.

    BEST ADVICE: Sue Naegle told me, "In this business, you hear everything, but you say nothing."

    10 YEARS AGO: I was still in college. After seven years, I crawled across the finish line at Cal State Northridge with a political science degree.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Expanding the Kardashian Kollection to 16 countries after launching one year earlier at Sears.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. That show has a lot of heart and a lot of underlying lessons about materialism. I don't know if it's intentional or not, but it's otherworldly.

    MOVIE FIX: Drop Dead Gorgeous with Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Ellen Barkin, Kirstie Alley and Allison Janney. The cast is amazing.

    BEST DAY: Selling Skinnygirl. It was one of my first big wins, and it's a good creation.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING: I'm hanging out at home with my three dogs: two French bulldogs and a Rottweiler.

  • Jason Cunningham

    Paradigm, Talent Agent

    Jessica Chou

    Not yet 30, Cunningham, 29, has been able to secure a stable of up-and-comers including Girls breakout Allison Williams (daughter of NBC News' Brian), Magic Mike leading lady Cody Horn (daughter of Disney Studios' Alan) and Breaking Bad's Matt Jones. The New York City-born Cunningham rounds out his portfolio with such veterans as Tony Danza.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Paradigm's Sarah Fargo. She teaches me something every day.

    BIG BREAK: When Sam Gores handed me a glass of Champagne and said, "You're an agent." I was shaking, but I didn't break the glass. [He began his career in the agency's mailroom.]

    CAREER INSPIRATION: Growing up in Astoria, N.Y., I was surrounded by so many artists and knew I wanted to work in the arts. In my late teens, I decided I wanted to be an agent -- a modern-day patron of the arts.

    10 YEARS AGO: I was in college at the University of South Florida in Tampa. I was a bartender at a Japanese steakhouse.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: I have to see what's going on with my teams: the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I haven't celebrated anything in years.

    LUNCH SPOT: I love La Scala at 12:45. I love the salad -- and avoiding the rush.

    BEST DAY: When I found out Cody got Magic Mike and when I found out Allison got Girls.

  • Michael Kagan

    ICM, Partner, International TV/Media

    Jessica Chou

    The ICM partner already has put more than 30 shows on the air, with a portfolio that's as diverse as it is successful. The New York native, 31, counts Undercover Boss' Studio Lambert, What Not to Wear's Clinton Kelly, Inside the Actors Studio's James Lipton and The Biggest Loser's Jillian Michaels among his clients.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: My father, Russell Kagan, who has produced TV movies and miniseries.

    BIG BREAK: Starting in the ICM mailroom in 2003. It's the only job I've ever had. [Kagan graduated from the University of Michigan.]

    BEST ADVICE: Bernie Brillstein said, "Have an opinion, even if it's wrong."

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: When Studio Lambert won the Emmy for Undercover Boss. It was nice to see a client recognized like that.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: Eastbound & Down.

    MOVIE FIX: Step Brothers. It gets better that 13th time, though.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: TMZ, to make sure my clients aren't in trouble.

    I WAKE UP AT: 7:30 a.m.




  • Michael Kives

    CAA, Motion Picture Agent

    Jessica Chou

    Kives' roster ranges from the brawny (Bruce Willis) to the scrawny (Warren Buffett, Jesse Eisenberg), to say nothing of the beauties (Kate Hudson, Kate Bosworth). The Winnipeg, Canada-born agent, 31, orchestrated Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to the big screen and counts Obama speechwriter-turned-1600 Penn writer Jon Lovett among his politico-turned-writer clients.

    BIG BREAK: Getting my first job in the CAA mailroom [after graduating from Stanford] despite being Canadian, because they don't sponsor people for work visas. Arlene Newman, head of HR, decided to make a one-time exception.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: Growing up, I would read books on different entertainment players: David Geffen, Mike Ovitz and Barry Diller. Many started at agencies, so I decided from an early age that I wanted to be an agent.

    BEST ADVICE: My high school debate coach told me to be the best version of myself.

    10 YEARS AGO: I was working for Bill Clinton in the post-presidency in Harlem. I always told the president I wanted to be an agent. And he'd say, "You want to be a Secret Service agent?"

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: I hope to be working with great clients and celebrating Hillary Clinton's re-election -- in 2020, after raising a lot of money.

    BEST DAY: June 1, 2011. I got an e-mail that I got my green card, and I started running around CAA screaming like a madman.

  • Randi Goldstein

    Gersh, Senior VP

    Jessica Chou

    The New York-based talent agent, 34, (from Silver Spring, Md.) has an eye for spotting talent and represents three of the most buzzed-about newcomers: Christopher Abbott (Hello I Must Be Going), Dreama Walker (Compliance, Don't Trust the B-- in Apt. 23) and Alexia Rasmussen (The Comedy). Goldstein, who left Marymount Manhattan College at 19 years old to become an agent at Fifi Oscard, also is steering the career of Girls' Adam Driver, who landed roles in the Coens' Inside Llewyn Davis and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Gersh's Rhonda Price. She allowed me the freedom to trust my instincts.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: Oddly, I've known since high school that I wanted to be an agent. I have always loved the business. It was a no-brainer.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Succeeding in having so many clients go between each medium -- film, TV and theater -- and not be pigeonholed as one kind of actor.



    THE LAST THING I DO: Look at my calendar for what I have the next day.

    I WAKE UP AT: 8 a.m.

    THE FIRST THING I DO: Look at my calendar to see what I have that day -- since I can't remember from the night before.

  • Theresa Kang

    WME, Scripted TV Agent

    Jessica Chou

    The L.A.-born Kang, 33, has been involved in the small-screen moves of Steven Zaillian, Seth Gordon and Guillermo del Toro. With a reputation for being shrewd and savvy, the UCLA grad also helped sell Matthew Parkhill's Rogue spec to DirecTV, got pilots ordered at MTV and Syfy and counts Happy Endings' David Caspe and Awkward's Lauren Iungerich as clients.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: WME's Ari Greenburg, Paul Haas and Ari Emanuel.

    BIG BREAK: When I met Seth Gordon while I was an assistant at Endeavor [before his film The King of Kong] at a festival and made him my first client. This year, he directed his third feature.

    BEST ADVICE: "No" is just the start of the negotiation.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: My father. He owned a chain of video stores that he started, where I worked weekends and summers. [Kang started her career at the USA network.]

    CAN'T-MISS TV: Homeland. I wanted to be a CIA agent when I was younger. I interned for Sen. Boxer, which led to a State Department internship at the U.S. Embassy in Burma. I ultimately declined that position, but for years I had intentions of pursuing a career in intelligence.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING I'M: On Instagram, looking at travel websites or watching a movie.

    I WAKE UP AT: 6:30 a.m.


  • Felicia Day

    Founder, Geek & Sundry

    Jessica Chou

    The actress-turned-web guru, 33, created the business model for most online shows when she launched The Guild with one-time partners Microsoft and Xbox. This year, the former Southern belle (she’s from Huntsville, Ala.) and University of Texas, Austin grad launched Geek & Sundry, a YouTube channel for which she develops, stars and produces original scripted and unscripted efforts.

    BIG BREAK: Uploading my first video — The Guild, season one, episode one. That’s when my career started. I’m very lucky that the first thing I ever shot was something that I was passionate about.

    BEST ADVICE: My acting teacher Alice Klein told me, “The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” [Day moved to L.A. after college to pursue an acting career and even landed a small arc on The WB’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.]

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT:  Launching Geek & Sundry and creating a start-up company from nothing. We started with no staff and now have dozens of people.

    CAN’T-MISS TV: Game of Thrones and the BBC’s Sherlock.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: YouTube. I read comments on our videos even though I shouldn’t.

    LUNCH SPOT: Hugo’s. It’s not too Hollywood-y and makes me feel self-righteously healthy.

    WHEN I’M NOT WORKING I’M: Playing video games. I can deduct [the costs] because it’s work!

  • Logan Mulvey

    Godigital, Founder and CEO

    Jessica Chou

    While a student at Loyola Marymount University, Mulvey, 28, launched his company GoDigital (a music distribution service). The Solana Beach, Calif., native got a break when Master P agreed to let Mulvey handle his digital distribution. Today, the L.A.-based company has evolved to focus solely on the digital distribution of movies (and has done so for more than 500 films).

    BEST ADVICE: Clint Eastwood told me, “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.”

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: I hope to be distributing Oscar-nominated films with GoDigital.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Securing funding from Preferred Ventures [nearly $1 million]. Within Hollywood, it let people know that big money and smart people have invested in us, and we are not a fly-by-night operation.

    MOVIE FIX: Dumb & Dumber. It’s one of the more underrated films ever. Jim Carrey was so dead-on as Lloyd Christmas.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: I check the iTunes trailer page. When I was a kid, watching trailers was one of my favorite things.  

    WHEN I’M NOT WORKING I’M: Surfing in Manhattan Beach.

    I WAKE UP: AT 6 a.m.

    THE FIRST THING I DO: Try to leave the room without waking up my wife, Jessica, and dog Bodhi.

  • Sophia Rossi

    Hellogiggles, Co-Founder

    Jessica Chou

    Since launching in May, the female-friendly-content site co-founded by the L.A. native (with Zooey Deschanel and Two Broke Girls writer Molly McAleer) has cultivated a fiercely loyal industry following. The site averages more than 10 million visitors (and 1.8 million uniques) a month, according to Google Analytics.

    BIG BREAK: Being a talent producer for MTV’s The Hills. It was sort of like my college experience since I didn’t go.

    10 YEARS AGO: I was a music video director for Dave Meyers. At night, I did bottle service for Bolthouse clubs with my friend Katherine Powers, who now runs the website Who What Wear? We probably made more money then than we do now.

    MOVIE FIX: You’ve Got Mail. Mindy Kaling and I developed our friendship based on the fact that we love that movie.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: Facebook, Twitter, Who What Wear? and Astrology Zone.

    LUNCH SPOT: I’m a control freak so I go to Whole Foods because I can build my own lunch.

    BEST DAY: When I got to meet Judy Blume. I was able to bring one of our contributors, Maude Apatow. Her stories are timeless; Maude’s mom [Leslie Mann] loves her, too.

    WORST DAY: Early on, our server crashed. Our programmer said, “You’re going to need more memory,” and I was like, “What is a server? What are you talking about?” I still don’t know what that means.

  • Adam Siegel

    Marc Platt Productions, President

    Jessica Chou

    After a dozen years at Marc Platt Prods., Siegel, 34, (originally from West Hartford, Conn.) notched his first full producing credit with the Ryan Gosling starrer Drive, a project the Wesleyan grad put together from scratch that became the toast of the Croisette at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The married father of one's credits also include the Angelina Jolie starrer Wanted and cult fave Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

    BIG BREAK: Getting my first movie made, which was The Perfect Man, with Hilary Duff and Heather Locklear. [He began as an intern at Original Film.]

    CAREER INSPIRATION: When I was a kid, I watched The Natural with Robert Redford. I noticed all the good guys were in white and all the bad guys were in black. It was the first time I saw the watchmaker's hand.

    BIGGEST RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: When Nicolas [Winding Refn] won the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival. I was sitting in a tuxedo in that room, thinking back to reading the book in my car and how it all came to this.

    LUNCH SPOT: Art's Deli on Ventura Boulevard. I feel like a very old-time Jewy producer there. Most movie deals were made over a martini or pastrami, and I can't have a martini at lunch.

    BEST DAY: Meeting Paul Newman. He offered me a beer. I can't imagine anything better than drinking a cold beer with Paul Newman.

    WORST DAY: It doesn't happen at work. It happens at midnight when I realize I f--ed up. One night, in the old days when we had to count the pages of scripts, I woke up in a panic that I didn't count the pages properly. I drove to work at 4 a.m., and all the scripts were missing one page.

    WHEN I'M NOT AT WORK I'M: Either drinking martinis with my buddies or at the park with my daughter.

  • Asad Ayaz

    Disney, Senior VP Global Marketing

    Jessica Chou

    Ayaz, 34, is marketing brand lead for Disney Live Action and Marvel, overseeing the planning, development and execution of global marketing campaigns for Walt Disney Studios and Marvel Studios film releases. The Pakistan-born USC grad is currently planning the campaigns for Oz: The Great and Powerful, The Lone Ranger and Iron Man 3.

    INDUSTRY MENTORS: [Marvel Studios' ] Ike Perlmutter and Kevin Feige.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: As a kid, I watched a lot of [Disney] movies and read Marvel comics -- Thor was my favorite. It's funny how it all led here. [He started as a retail planner for Disney.]

    BEST ADVICE: [Marvel's] Rob Steffens told me, "Always go out of your way to give credit to others." We get so caught up in what we do and the big movies we work on, but it's the people who work on our teams that matter. A marketing campaign is never one person. It's an army.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: The Avengers marketing campaign. It was the first collaboration between Marvel and Disney that paid off hugely. [The film made $1.5 billion.]

    CAN'T-MISS TV : Parks and Recreation.

    MOVIE FIX: Fargo.

    LUNCH SPOT: Sushi Nishiya in Burbank. It's one of the best-kept secrets.

    I WAKE UP AT: 6 a.m.

    THE FIRST THING I DO: Check the number of Facebook "likes" on our films.

    I FALL ASLEEP AT: 11 p.m.

    THE LAST THING I DO: Check the number of Facebook "likes" on our films.

  • Ben Cotner

    Open Road Films, Senior VP Acquisitions

    Jessica Chou

    Cotner, 33, played a crucial role in the acquisition of two box-office success stories: Joe Carnahan's action pic The Grey and David Ayer's cop drama End of Watch. He also was instrumental in acquiring upcoming titles Side Effects, from Steven Soderbergh, and The Host, based on Stephenie Meyer's book.

    BIG BREAK: Getting a job right out of school [Pitzer College] at Paramount Classics as an acquisitions coordinator.

    BEST ADVICE: Amy Israel, whom I worked with at Paramount, always encouraged me to set aside my personal feelings and think of things from the perspective of the audience.

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: I enjoy exploring new territory, so I hope to be working in the film industry, but taking on new challenges.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: The Grey, since it helped establish us as a major player. I saw the footage, and we acquired it off of that.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: 60 Minutes. I'm an old man at heart.

    LUNCH SPOT: Gulfstream in Century City.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING I'M: Hiking with my dog in Temescal Canyon.

    I WAKE UP AT: 6 a.m.

    THE FIRST THING I DO: Read every website. I'll also watch CBS -- I told you I'm an old man at heart.

  • Bryan Unkeless

    Color Force, Senior VP

    Jessica Chou

    Unkeless, 30, was the driving force behind identifying Suzanne Collins' action-adventure trilogy The Hunger Games as the industry's next powerhouse franchise. Color Force acquired the rights to the books after the Engelwood, Colo.-reared Unkeless brought it to Color Force founder Nina Jacobson.

    BIG BREAK: Being hired at Color Force. At the time, I had been lucky enough to be a story assistant and see the inside of a studio, but this was the first time I was an exec.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Hunger Games opening in a way that was very well-received by the fans of the book. That was our goal all along. The big box office was also really exciting. [It made $686.5 million.]

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: I try not to think that far in advance. This industry is so unstable, and it's pretty treacherous out there. Hopefully, I'll still be making movies I care about.

    MOVIE FIX: Groundhog Day.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: I go through tons of books looking for source material.

    BEST DAY: When Nina called me and said she was hiring me. I had already done three interviews and a notes sessions, then really late in the day, I got that call. I was so pumped. [His first industry gig was at Echo Lake Prods.]

    WORST DAY: When I first came out to Hollywood, I worked on a McDonald's commercial and my job was to find a costume for a dancing pickle. I had to go all over the city to find doll clothes. It's really hard to find clothes that fit a pickle. That was a pretty bad day.

    I FALL ASLEEP AT: 2 a.m.

    THE LAST THING I DO: Brush my teeth. I don't want them to fall out.

  • Jillian Share

    Legendary Entertainment, VP Creative Affairs

    Jessica Chou

    The UC Berkeley grad, 30, has had a quite the year, spending 8½ of the past 12 months on movie sets, working on three Legendary productions including Guillermo del Toro's $200 million giant-monsters-vs.-mechas pic Pacific Rim. But it's The Seventh Son, based on the Joseph Delaney children's novel, that is closest to the Beverly Hills native's heart -- it was the first project she brought into the company. (She will receive co-producer credit on the movies.)

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Legendary Entertainment President Jon Jashni. I spent two years on his desk as an assistant. You listen to all the calls and learn a lot. He is always straightforward.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: My dad is a doctor at Cedars-Sinai, and occasionally some of his patients would come over for dinner, including [producer] David Gale. I was enthralled by his stories and wanted to be a part of that world. [Share began her career with stints at ICM and WMA before starting as assistant to Legendary's president and COO in 2006.]

    BEST ADVICE: From Jashni: "Survival is its own form of success. A lot of people drop out of the business, and if you look around, the people who are sticking it out, are the ones making it."

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: We went from getting a 17-page treatment from Travis Beacham to, a year later, getting to stand on a giant set that Guillermo del Toro created. To go from page to reality is a huge moment.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: Breaking Bad.

    MOVIE FIX: Back to the Future. It's Michael J. Fox at his best. I'm a child of the '80s.

    LUNCH SPOT: The Nosh of Beverly Hills. It's been a staple in my life since I was 3.

    BEST DAY: When I found out we were making Seventh Son. It's the project I worked hardest on and the first one I was given to oversee.

  • Megan Ellison

    Annapurna Pictures, Founder

    Getty Images

    Megan Ellison -- backed by her billionaire father, Larry Ellison -- has quickly become Hollywood's go-to financier for prestige projects. Her slate of films includes The Master, Lawless, Killing Them Softly and Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty. She's also financing Bennett Miller's next film, Foxcatcher, and holds the rights to the Terminator franchise. Ellison, 26, who operates out of her compound in the Hollywood Hills, is notoriously reluctant about talking to the media and has declined participation in this year's Next Gen package. Instead, she chooses to communicate publicly via quotes posted on her official Twitter account, @meganeellison. A sampling:

    • 'Dear diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count.'-- Heathers (1988)

    • 'If you're going through hell, keep going.' -- Winston Churchill

    • 'You know that place between sleep and awake? … That's where I'll always love you, Peter Pan. That's where I'll be waiting.' – Hook (1991)

    • My Hollywood Proverbs, part 3: -possession is nine-tenths of the law-'you're gonna need a bigger boat.' JAWS (1975)

    • 'Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real.' – Tupac Shakur

    • 'If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour…you're gonna see some serious shit.' – Back to the Future (1985)

    • 'Expect everything, I always say, and the unexpected never happens.' – Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

  • Stephen Bruno

    The Weinstein Co., President of Marketing

    Jessica Chou

    Bruno, 33, has stood the test of time with Harvey and Bob Weinstein, spending most of his career with the pair (first at Miramax then at TWC, save for a yearlong stint at HBO). The Philadelphia native has overseen the highly successful marketing campaigns for 2012 Oscar winner The Artist, The Iron Lady, Lawless, The Master and The Intouchables, among others.

    BIG BREAK: I was an assistant at Rubenstein Associates after graduating from Boston University and was at a fund-raising event and met a woman who recommended me for a job at Miramax. I interviewed to be Harvey's assistant but ended up [former Miramax COO] Rick Sands' assistant. I eventually became Harvey's for two years.

    BEST ADVICE: Whatever you do, work as hard as you possibly can, but always remain ethical.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: I have always been a film fan, and the Miramax brand always stood out. What Harvey does best is to make a movie a cultural event. That's what we focused on, making the movie an event.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: 30 Rock. Not only is it funny for the general audience, it has a lot of industry jokes and winks.

    MOVIE FIX: Thomas the Tank Engine: Misty Island Rescue. My 3-year-old son has probably watched it five dozen times. I have too, especially after Hurricane Sandy. We live in Battery Park and had nothing to do.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING I'M: Spending time with my family: my son, Rex; my 3-month-old daughter, Lila; and my wife [whom he met while at Miramax], Melissa Bruno.

  • Camrin Agin

    New Line Cinema, Senior Counsel, Business and Legal Affairs

    Jessica Chou

    One of the most well-liked young studio lawyers, the Long Island native and University of Pennsylvania grad is responsible for the dealmaking on New Line's upcoming Bryan Singer tentpole Jack the Giant Slayer and the Harold & Kumar franchise. After a 2006 trip to Sundance, the married mom-to-be, 35, (she's eight months pregnant) left her N.Y. law firm to join the Hollywood studio.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: New Line's Carolyn Blackwood. My unofficial mentor is Stacey Snider. I say unofficial because we've never met, but she is a law school graduate who oversees creative and financial aspects of films she loves. And she's a mom. Swoon.

    BIG BREAK: When I was at Stroock [a corporate firm], I stalked everyone I knew in the entertainment business. I called a professor at NYU who told me that her Manhattan firm was looking for an associate.

    BEST ADVICE: "I'd rather beg forgiveness than seek permission." It's a popular proverb, but I read it in a interview with Robert Downey Jr. It was pretty badass.

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: I hope to be running my own film company, where I can broker financing and distribution deals for projects of my choosing.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: American Horror Story. I get to be terrified weekly.

    MOVIE FIX: Wet Hot American Summer. It's one of the funniest movies ever made. This is not an opinion, it's fact.

    WORST DAY: Monday after a less-than-stellar New Line opening weekend.

    BEST DAY: When I closed a nudity rider after a lengthy negotiation and didn't have to say "butt cleavage."

  • Robert Koch

    Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein, Partner

    Jessica Chou

    Yes, his dad is Academy president Hawk Koch, his grandfather was producer Howard W. Koch, and his stepfather is Hollywood superlawyer Ken Ziffren. But peers agree that the Beverly Hills native and Northwestern grad, 33, has succeeded at the A-list talent law firm [he landed at Morris Yorn right out of Loyola Law] on his own merits. He has signed such hot clients as Zoe Kazan and Compliance director Craig Zobel, and he's the primary servicer for Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and Nicole Kidman.

    BEST ADVICE: My grandfather told me, "This business is all about relationships, so no matter if it's the security guard or a studio head, treat everyone with respect and kindness."

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: Doing the same thing I'm doing now, but in a dog-friendly building with a better food court.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Helping make the deal for one of my best friends, Jordan Okun, to sell his first novel, L.A. Fadeaway.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: The Wire and Game of Thrones.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: Rotoworld. I have a small obsession with fantasy sports.

    LUNCH SPOT: It's a tie between The Apple Pan (the best burger in L.A.) and Nate 'n Al (I recommend the Westwood).

    BEST DAY: When I was named partner.

    I GO TO BED AT: 11:30 p.m.

    THE LAST THING I DO: Kiss my wife [Annie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer] and watch The Daily Show.

  • George Heller

    Apostle, Literary Talent Manager

    Jessica Chou

    This producer-manager oversees the Los Angeles office of Apostle Entertainment, the production outfit of Denis Leary and Jim Serpico, and boasts a client list that includes veteran TV scribe Victor Levin (most recently of Mad Men) and screenwriter Cliff Dorfman (Entourage). The New Jersey-born Heller, 33, also has made his presence known in the political arena, raising money for President Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and he even hosted a breakfast in Beverly Hills for Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: My brother [Everest Entertainment’s] Tom Heller, who has producing credits on 127 Hours and Precious.

    10 YEARS AGO: I was at Foursight Entertainment, a company I had started while in college [at USC] with Jeremy Bell and [fellow Next Gen 2012 honoree] Michael Lasker. We’ve worked together since we were 19 years old.

    CAN’T-MISS TV: I religiously watch NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams. I never miss it.

    LUNCH SPOT: Akasha in Culver City. I go there so often, I don’t need a reservation, and I know every waiter and every hostess.

    BEST DAY: I sold Iron Jack my first week at Principato Young. Needless to say, selling a spec for $1.25 million in a post-strike climate was a good start. I had studio presidents and chairmen who also bid on the project very angry with me. Any victory comes with resentment.

    WORST DAY: My assistant ordered me a venti soy hazelnut vanilla chai latte and forgot the extra foam. Said assistant is no longer working here.

  • Josh Lieberman

    3 Arts, Manager

    Jessica Chou

    Lieberman’s portfolio reads like a who’s who of the up-and-coming comedy scene. Among the clients whose careers the Phoenix native, 32, (and Arizona State graduate) has helped navigate in recent years: Happy EndingsAdam Pally, Whitney’s Chris D’Elia and Parks and Recreation producer Harris Wittels.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: 3 Arts’ Dave Becky.

    BIG BREAK: Being hired as Dave’s assistant 8½ years ago. [Lieberman started as an assistant at Imagine, where former TV chief David Nevins recommended him for the 3 Arts gig.]

    BEST ADVICE: Just figure it out.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Harris Wittels getting an overall deal at NBC and Moshe Kasher coming out with a book called Kasher in the Rye this March. It’s excellent.

    CAN’T-MISS TV: Breaking Bad and Homeland.

    MOVIE FIX: American Psycho makes me laugh every time. Is that too creepy?

    ONLINE OBSESSION: Is there anything more important than TMZ?

    LUNCH SPOT: Any place that takes my expense account. Really? South Beverly Grill.

    WHEN I’M NOT WORKING I’M: Playing a really embarrassing round of golf.

    I WAKE UP AT: 6 a.m.

    THE FIRST THING I DO: Listen to comedy podcasts at the gym.

  • Michael Lasker

    Mosaic, Manager

    Jessica Chou

    After launching his own management company as an undergraduate at USC [Foursight Entertainment, with fellow honoree Heller], the Tulsa, Okla.-born Lasker, 33, joined Mosaic in 2008 and counts Portlandia’s Jonathan Krisel, The Office’s Ellie Kemper, Modern Family’s Jason Winer and Bad Teacher’s Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky as clients.

    BIG BREAK: Before my junior year in college, I had an internship at production company Beacon Communications, which had just gotten the greenlight to do Universal’s Bring It On. Being 20 years old and going down to San Diego to work on a cheerleading movie was not a bad way to spend the summer.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: 1600 Penn being ordered to series at NBC. I represent Jason Winer and [fellow Next Gen 2012 honoree] Jon Lovett with my colleague Christie Smith. We connected Jason with Jon, who had White House experience, and the rest was history.

    MOVIE FIX: Die Hard. The truth is, I’d come home every day after school, and I’d put it in the VCR and watch the last 10 minutes, where he saves his wife. Every day. And A Few Good Men. Upon request, I can do the entire courtroom scene, both Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise’s dialogue.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: Ain’t It Cool News.

    I FALL ASLEEP AT: Midnight.

    THE LAST THING I DO: Read 10 pages of a book and fall asleep. That’s why it takes me four months to finish a book.

  • Bryna Rifkin

    ID-PR, Director, Media Strategist

    Jessica Chou

    Searching for an Academy Award-winning starlet? Or an Emmy Icon? Look no further. This New Jersey-born publicist maintains an impressive portfolio of some of Hollywood's hottest talent -- from Marion Cotillard, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Lawrence to Emily Mortimer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Mira Sorvino. The George Washington University grad, 32, who now oversees ID's London office, also counts Boardwalk Empire's Michael Shannon and The Perks of Being a Wallflower's Logan Lerman as clients.

    BIG BREAK: An elementary school class appearance on Sesame Street. Snuffleupagus told me I was destined for great things.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Whether she intended to or not, I was fortunate to have the mentorship of Mara Buxbaum. She taught me an approach to publicity that maintains a sense of mystery but stems from passion and artistry.

    BEST ADVICE: Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten pretty much encapsulates the fundamentals.

    10 YEARS AGO: I was an executive assistant at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills with lots of friends who wanted to exploit my discount. [Her first entertainment job was a brief stint at CAA.]

    CAN'T-MISS TV: It's a multiway tie! Veep, The Newsroom, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire and any other series that features a client of mine.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING I'M: Commuting -- on a plane or in a car traveling to and from work.

  • Chris DiIorio

    PMK*BNC, VP Television

    Jessica Chou

    In addition to mega-clients the Television Academy and The X Factor, the Colorado-born DiIorio, 30, represents a laundry list of television's top showrunners including Shonda Rhimes, Bill Lawrence, and How I Met Your Mother duo Carter Bays and Craig Thomas.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: PMK*BNC COO/executive vp entertainment Lewis Kay. He was the person that brought me over to then-BNC and has been an incredible mentor and friend.

    BEST ADVICE: A college professor told me, "Never spend too much time celebrating your successes or wallowing over your failures."

    10 YEARS AGO: I was a student at Loyola Marymount University while interning in MTV's PR department [his first entertainment job].

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: I am not singling out one client and getting in trouble!

    CAN'T-MISS TV: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. I like to fancy myself as somewhat of a foodie who loves to travel, so there really is no better show.

    MOVIE FIX: The Godfather. Might be cliche, but any time it is on TV, I watch it to the end.

    LUNCH SPOT: Toast. Their Smoke Stack sandwich is amazing.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING I'M: On the Westside spending time with my wife, Giovanna, and friends.

  • Susan Kesser

    Warner Bros. Television, Executive Director of Publicity

    Jessica Chou

    A 2011 recipient of the Publicist Showmanship Award for Television at the ICG Publicists Awards, the USC grad is among the WBTV team members who handle all things Chuck Lorre. These days, the newly married Kesser, 32 (originally from Virginia Beach, Va.) and her colleagues have good news to promote, including the showrunner's recent hardcover book, his overall deal to expand into cable and film and the ratings dominance of The Big Bang Theory.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Tammy Golihew [senior vp publicity at Warner Bros. TV]. She inspires our entire team to dig deeper, think bigger and be better. She also happens to be my shoe mentor.

    BIG BREAK: My big break was actually small, as in Smallville.

    10 YEARS AGO: I'd just started at Warner Bros. Every evening, I'd go nine rounds with the copy machine: changing toner, handling electrical malfunctions and rescuing eaten paper. That job made me a Canon copier savant.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: Game of Thrones and 60 Minutes.

    MOVIE FIX: Coming to America. Any time it's on TV, I have to stop and watch it. It was the first R-rated movie I was ever allowed to see. Prince Akeem, King Jaffe Joffer, Cleo McDowell and Soul Glo. I think I have every line memorized.

    LUNCH SPOT: The Sprinkles ATM.

    I WAKE UP AT: 5:50 a.m.

    THE FIRST THING I DO IS: Justify skipping Barry's Bootcamp.

  • Angelica McDaniel

    CBS Entertainment, SVP Daytime

    Jessica Chou

    Not yet 35, and already McDaniel, originally from Minneapolis, oversees CBS’ top-rated daytime lineup, including The Young and the Restless, The Price Is Right and, her top priority, The Talk. Thus far this season, the latter is network TV’s fastest-growing daytime show.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: CBS’ Nina Tassler.

    BIG BREAK: I was hired 64 days prior to the launch of The Talk. The stakes were high because it was the network’s first talk show.

    BEST ADVICE: To listen. People will always teach you something if you’re paying attention.

    10 YEARS AGO: I was in D.C. doing XM Satellite Radio. I was on-air for an hour a week because my bosses thought it would be funny, but my real job was producing a youth talk format.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Becoming the head of CBS Daytime.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: My dad is Mexican, so I grew up with a Latin family, and I needed to have a big personality. I started on-air for a children’s radio network when I was 15.

    WHEN I’M NOT WORKING I’M: Spending time with my husband, Brian McDaniel, and my dog, a golden retriever named Ella.

    LUNCH SPOT: My greatest wish is that Cut in the Beverly Wilshire was open for lunch because I love their pretzel bread and mac and cheese. If you’ve never had it, you must.

  • Cara Dellaverson

    Lionsgate, VP Television Development and Current Programming

    Jessica Chou

    After a stint in the unscripted world, Dellaverson, 34, joined Lionsgate, where she has been integral to the launch of ABC’s critical darling Nashville as well as Jenji Kohan’s upcoming Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. The Los Angeles-reared University of Pennsylvania graduate has been hands-on with other Lionsgate series including Mad Men and Nurse Jackie as well.

    BIG BREAK: Being Bob Broder’s assistant. He’s a TV packaging genius and an extremely nice guy. It was my first education in the business.

    10 YEARS AGO: I was producing reality shows like Next, Date My Mom and Celebrities Uncensored — soul-crushing shows but great production experience.

    TURNING POINT: My dad took me to the set of CHiPs when I was 5. From that moment, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I’m sure Erik Estrada and craft services didn’t hurt.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Nashville. My blood, sweat and tears are all over that show.

    MOVIE FIX: Stand by Me.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: Food blogs like Eater LA.

    WHEN I’M NOT WORKING: I’m hiking with my dog and with my husband, Mick Froehlich; trying new restaurants in different neighborhoods; and likely eating ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery.

  • David Bernad

    RipCord Productions, President of Film and Television

    Jessica Chou

    As head of Mike White’s production company, which has a deal at HBO, he produces the dramedy Enlightened and HBO GO’s first original effort, The Boring Life of Jacqueline. On the film side, the entrepreneurial McGill grad and Washington, D.C.-area native is exec producing Sebastian Silva’s Magic Magic.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: I had a paper route at 9 and thought: “Why am I delivering someone else’s paper? I can just make my own.” My little brother wanted to be a writer, so I became the producer and said: “You write it. I’ll go sell it.” There was local, world and sports news plus trivia. I went door to door and made $500.

    BIG BREAK: Landing in the UTA mailroom. I didn’t get the job I had interviewed for at ICM but got an offer from Abrams and an interview at UTA. I told the guy at UTA that I had another offer. He said, “Where?” When I said Abrams, he said, “Ehh.” Something came over me, and I [lied], “And ICM.” He literally hired me on the spot.

    BEST ADVICE: My cousin Michael Gordon [300 screenwriter] told me, “It’s about patience and perseverance.”

    CAN’T-MISS TV: I don’t know if I should say this, but Real World/Road Rules’ The Challenge.


    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Getting nominated for a Golden Globe for Enlightened.

  • Grant Gish

    20th Century Fox TV Animation, Executive Director

    Jessica Chou

    After a stint at NBC and Tom Werner’s Good Humor TV, Gish (originally from Dallas) joined 20th, where he developed the Fox hit Bob’s Burgers and helped sell IFC’s upcoming — and first — animated show, Out There, from South Park’s Ryan Quincy.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Mike Clements, whom I worked with at Good Humor Television. He reignited my love for animation.

    BIG BREAK: After a few months as an NBC page, I applied to work in the development department. Cheryl Dolins, who was head of comedy development at the time, took a shine to me and hired me to work on her desk.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: I was always a massive couch potato, but I didn’t realize it could be a career until I got to Washington and Lee [University] and was writing reviews for the paper. I interned at Scott Rudin Productions in New York, too. That’s where I learned that I loved development.

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: I hope to be staying creative. I’ve dabbled in a few things: animation, live action, and I produced a documentary called Barbarian Days a few years ago. It was based on Robert E. Howard, who created Conan the Barbarian; it focused on four of his superfans, who gather at this festival in Texas.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Getting our show, Out There, picked up by IFC.

    MOVIE FIX: I quote Blazing Saddles the most.

    WHEN I’M NOT WORKING I’M: Drinking good beer and playing bad golf.

    I FALL ASLEEP AT: 11:15 p.m.

    THE LAST THING I DO: Read. Right now, I’m reading Simon Rich’s new book, What in God’s Name.


  • Joey Chavez

    NBC, VP Drama Development

    Jessica Chou

    Chavez’s latest project, the J.J. Abrams drama Revolution, not only has proved to be one of the fall schedule’s few breakout hits but also has helped lift NBC to No. 1 status in the key 18-to-49 demo for the first time in 10 years. The L.A.-born drama exec, 28, who has survived the network’s many regime changes, also has a hand in the critically praised Parenthood.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: David Janollari. My first gig out of college was at the WB Network, and David was the president. We have a standing dinner, and he gives me great advice.

    TURNING POINT: I was about to send in my acceptance letter to UC Berkeley to study political science when I got into USC film school. I had applied on a whim.

    BIG BREAK: I got a fellowship through Warner Bros. that offered a full ride and required me to intern throughout college. When I graduated, I went right to work at the WB Network.

    10 YEARS AGO: I was an intern on a Fox show called Fastlane. They had me directing cars to the table read and stacking sodas for McG.

    CAN’T-MISS TV: The Walking Dead.

    MOVIE FIX: My office is covered in old movie posters, but my favorite is Annie Hall.

    I FALL ASLEEP AT: 12 a.m.

    THE LAST THING I DO: Come off of a four-hour TV binge.

  • Kate Lambert

    FX, VP Original Programming, Drama and Comedy Development

    Jessica Chou

    In addition to being the primary development exec on such critically acclaimed efforts as Archer and Wilfred, the married, New Jersey-born USC grad, 33, is hands-on with upcoming efforts The Americans (with Keri Russell) and Legit as well as The League and Justified.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: FX’s John Landgraf, Nick Grad and Eric Schrier. They gave me a home to be myself and really grow as an executive.

    BIG BREAK: Walking in the door at FX. I started as an assistant to Matt Cherniss.

    BEST ADVICE: After years as an assistant, Landgraf sat me down and said, “Kate, if there’s anything else in this life that you can do, you should do it.” I was like, “Yeah, dude, I’ve been an assistant for seven years [beginning her career at CAA]. Unfortunately, I f—ing love this.” It was good advice because you have to love it.

    TURNING POINT: When I was in fifth grade, I had to do a report where students had to pick a show on the fall schedule that they thought would survive and then defend it. For whatever reason, I picked The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

    MOVIE FIX: A martial arts flick from the 1970s called Master of the Flying Guillotine.

    LUNCH SPOT: Father’s Office.

    WHEN I’M NOT WORKING I’M: At the beach.

  • Mary Bruce

    ABC News, White House Producer

    Dorothy Hong

    Combing the streets of Colombia for prostitutes to interview might sound more like the domain of a crime reporter. But that's exactly what the Washington University grad was doing in spring 2011 during the height of the Secret Service scandal (when agents allegedly were communing with prostitutes). More recently, the soon-to-be married D.C.-born producer, 29, has been on the campaign trail as part of the pack traveling with President Obama.

    BIG BREAK: ABC News Radio's Ann Compton recommended I apply for a job as an ABC news desk assistant. She said it wasn't glamorous but would get my foot in the door. It did.

    BEST ADVICE: [ABC News'] Jake Tapper said, "A neck pillow is your best friend on the campaign trail."

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: I caught the hot-mic moment between President Obama and Russian President Medvedev. I discovered the audio of Obama saying he would have "more flexibility" to deal with controversial issues like missile defense after the election.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: I'll admit it: Revenge.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: Facebook. It makes me feel like I have a social life.

    LUNCH SPOT: Anywhere that is not a press bus/plane, preferably a meal that isn't shrink-wrapped.

  • Matt King

    Warner Bros. Television, VP Drama Development

    Jessica Chou

    After a period at McG’s Wonderland production company, where the Oxford grad was involved with such series as Chuck and Supernatural, King, 35, joined the drama ranks at Warner Bros. TV. There, the south London transplant has been instrumental in the development of such series as The CW’s Hart of Dixie, ABC’s 666 Park Avenue and NBC’s breakout Revolution.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: My mother, who was a wonderful screenwriter named Laura Lamson.

    BIG BREAK: Discovering that Peter Johnson, who was interviewing me for the vp job at Wonderland, was a massive fan of electronic music and English soccer, both of which I actually knew something about.

    BEST ADVICE: Return every phone call.

    10 YEARS AGO: I was in an office above a dance studio in London restructuring writer-director Justin Kerrigan’s Miramax script, I Know You Know, for the 17th time.

    MOVIE FIX: Tootsie. I’m a sucker for the scoundrel-who-is-redeemed-by-love story. Especially if that scoundrel is in a dress.

    WHEN I’M NOT WORKING I’M: Planning where I want to go backpacking next.

  • Melanie Frankel

    USA, VP Original Comedy Series

    Jessica Chou

    After working at Imagine and ABC, Frankel, 33, (a Syracuse University grad raised in Lafayette Hill, Pa.) was brought aboard at USA to spearhead the drama-heavy network’s foray into comedy. She’s shepherding USA’s comedy pilots, Sirens (from Denis Leary) and Paging Dr.Freed, starring Annie Potts.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Katie O’Connell, my first boss at Imagine Television back in 2001.

    BIG BREAK: Being hired by Steve Stark to be a manager of development at Grammnet Television from my assistant desk at ABC.

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: I hope to be a nonwriting producer.

    BEST ADVICE: Nobody ever dies with an empty inbox. I used to toil away as an assistant, and Imagine’s Skip Chasey walked by my desk and said somebody had once said it to him. I said, “You’re right, I’m going home.”

    CAREER INSPIRATION: Growing up, I was like a walking TV Guide. I knew the grid and what was on what channel. I watched Moonlighting with my dad and Dallas with my mom.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: Facebook and Gawker.

    WHEN I’M NOT WORKING I’M: Playing with my 17-month-old baby, Zoe [with writer husband Etan Frankel]. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with her.

  • Mike Yarvitz

    MSNBC, Senior Producer, "The Rachel Maddow Show"

    Dorothy Hong

    Yarvitz, 30, a Boston native, started at MSNBC in 2004 as a production assistant. Eight years later, he is a senior producer at the network's top-rated program and the primary writer of Maddow's A-block. Notes TRMS executive producer Bill Wolff: "The show's signature thing is its blowout, super-thorough first block write-through. And Mike does that."

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Bill Wolff.

    BIG BREAK: Hurricane Katrina. An enormous world-changing story plus an undersize staff equals a thrust into a producing job I wasn't qualified for.

    BEST ADVICE: "Find a good story, tell it well, and the rest will take care of itself." -- Professor Frank Currier.

    10 YEARS AGO: Studying broadcast journalism at Syracuse University, wondering if I'd ever get a job in TV.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Getting nominated for a second Emmy and then losing. Thanks a lot, Anderson Cooper!

    MOVIE FIX: Good Will Hunting. You can take the guy out of Boston, but you can't take Boston out of his DVD player.


    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING I'M: At a coffee shop in Lower Manhattan, pretending I'm not working while covertly working.

  • Benh Zeitlin

    Co-Writer/ Director, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

    Getty Images

    His breakthrough debut feature won the World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance in January -- a milestone that kick-started a near-mania swell of interest in the moody-fantastical bayou drama. Fox Searchlight has positioned Zeitlin, 30 (a Wesleyan graduate and New Orleans native) and the film as prime awards contenders.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Nick Doob, father of my friend Crockett Doob. He let us use his Avid and helped Crockett direct the film Batman: The Movie, in which I played Superman. We were 6. Crockett is still editing my movies today.

    BIG BREAK: I broke my pelvis and hip in a car accident in 2008. The insurance settlement helped me pay off the $40,000 I owed from making my short film Glory at Sea.

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: I hope to be making a film entirely offshore. No one would set foot on land throughout principal photography.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: NFL football. Every Sunday. And Thursday. And Monday.

    MOVIE FIX: Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I'm a supporter of films with heroes who defend the tenants of debauchery and joy.

  • David Caspe

    Showrunner, "Happy Endings"

    After an unconventional start in the New York art scene, the Chicago native, 34, has made a swift Hollywood transition. With his cult comedy now in its third season on ABC, the writer-director-producer has an overall deal with Sony and most recently penned the Happy Madison movie That's My Boy.

    BIG BREAK: The first thing I ever sold was this script, which was most recently called The Karate Kids. Summit bought it. They still own it, and I occasionally hear that it's gone out here or there. It presupposes that The Karate Kid was based on two real kids, and the movie picks up on them at their 20-year high school reunion after falling from grace and having a rematch of that big fight from the original movie.

    BEST ADVICE: It sounds super simple, but my dad always said to work hard. In any field, if you put in a shitload of hours, it's definitely going to give you some advantage.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: I just feel lucky to have a job. I'm f--ing pumped to have a job.

    MOVIE FIX: Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. That came out when I was shifting from painting into writing.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: I have to keep an eye on [Chicago Bulls point guard ] Derrick Rose's rehabilitation.

  • Leslye Headland

    Writer-Director, "Bachelorette"

    Getty Images

    The playwright-turned-writer-director of the summer's dark wedding comedy Bachelorette parlayed what she calls "a huge year" into what surely will be an even more bang-up 2013. Headland's play Assistance (about executive underlings; the native of University Park, Md., 31, used to be one for movie mogul Harvey Weinstein) is being developed into a half-hour comedy for NBC, with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay attached as producers.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Obviously Harvey, who allowed me to move from assistant to filmmaker. And his company bought my film!

    BEST ADVICE: A filmmaker once told me, "Do everything before you're ready."

    MOVIE FIX: I've probably seen The Shining more than any other human being.

    BEST DAY: During the making of Bachelorette, there was a scene where Adam Scott comes off the stage to kiss Lizzy Caplan. I'd imagined that shot for five years. To see this random idea come to fruition was overwhelming. But I'm sure I'll be a jaded son of a bitch in a few years.

    WORST DAY: We had a rehearsal dinner scene with 30 minutes to shoot because the union was going to shut us down. We also lost a key location, and my parents were there.

  • Jon Lovett

    Co-Creator, "1600 Penn"

    Marvin Joseph/Washington Post/Getty Images

    The former Obama speechwriter, 30 (originally from Woodbury, N.Y.) turned a high-profile, high-stress gig into an improbable entree into the TV business as the co-creator of NBC midseason comedy 1600 Penn, a clever single-camera spin on life inside the White House starring The Book of Mormon's Josh Gad.

    BIG BREAK: My first one was when then-Sen. Hillary Clinton hired me to be her speechwriter, even though I'd never really written a speech before. That was nuts.

    TURNING POINT: Politics can be very frustrating. Because it's awful. But every year as a presidential speechwriter, I had the chance to work on the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner speeches with President Obama, Jon Favreau and David Axelrod. Hard to imagine an assignment that's more fun.

    BEST ADVICE: "Take Fountain." -- Bette Davis.

    10 YEARS AGO: I was at Williams College and pretty sure I'd never have sex. Boy, was I right.

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: No good has ever come to anyone from having an answer to this question.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: Twitter. Because no amount of tiny, incremental praise from strangers is enough, apparently.

  • Zoe Kazan

    Writer/Star, "Ruby Sparks"

    Getty Images

    The offspring of Hollywood royalty (her grandfather is Elia Kazan, the late director of such classics as On the Waterfront and Splendor in the Grass) has thrived in her own right. After bit parts, the L.A. native, 29, broke through this year with the critical darling Ruby Sparks, a fantasy rom-com she wrote and co-starred in alongside her real-life love, actor Paul Dano.

    BEST ADVICE: Whoever told me "just keep writing" and that "you don't just have to choose one thing." Both have made my career more interesting and given me a sense of power in what can be a pretty powerless profession.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: I did a play five years ago that Ethan Hawke directed. He's an example of somebody who has taken charge of his life: He's done indie films, big budgets, made his own work, directed and written novels.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: The fact I kept my relationship together [with Dano] while making and promoting Ruby Sparks.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: Parks and Recreation.

    MOVIE FIX: I'm a big rewatcher of Hitchcock, especially Notorious and Rebecca, and a lot of older films like Adam's Rib. And then stuff like Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral. And, of course, Kramer vs. Kramer.

    TURNING POINT: I did an off-Broadway play where I had to be naked for 10 minutes onstage. I was feeling like something wasn't working with my performance, so I asked some of my castmembers to give me notes. One said, "You are totally naked onstage, so you don't have to play on the nakedness. You're already naked."

  • Dakota Johnson

    Co-Star, "Ben and Kate"

    Getty Images

    The daughter of actors Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson -- and granddaughter of Hitchcock icon Tippi Hedren -- the Austin-born actress, 23, is fronting one of the fall's most well-received freshman series with Nat Faxon and proving herself a leading comedic actress after a string of small film roles.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: My grandmother. I remember feeling really weird after watching Marnie, thinking, "Who is this woman?"

    CAREER INSPIRATION: I watched Mary Poppins every day, and the "A Spoonful of Sugar" scene, with all the drawers opening and the toys dancing around, is the most amazing thing ever.

    BEST ADVICE: Sleep whenever you can -- even if it's for five minutes. And always be eating.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: The fact that I haven't yet died carrying this show. I think it's a big accomplishment that I'm still on my feet.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING I'M: So lazy. I would love to just lay around. Give me the option of going on a beautiful hike or watching movies, and I'd be like, "Let's f--ing watch movies, man."

  • Elle Fanning

    Star, "Ginger & Rosa"

    Getty Images

    Fanning, 14, is the rarest commodity in Hollywood: a teenage actor more poised and soulful than most adults. Following in the footsteps of her older sister Dakota, the Conyers, Ga.-born actress has tackled big action flicks (Super 8), moody indies (Somewhere) and, this fall, gripping drama in Sally Potter's film Ginger & Rosa -- a role that's giving the actress her first serious awards buzz.

    BIG BREAK: When I was 2 years old, I played my sister at a younger age in Jessie Nelson's I Am Sam. I got to swing on a swing with Sean Penn.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: I used to watch Grease over and over again. I loved getting to see '50s style. It's so cool. These people get to dress up, have different hair and pretend like they're in different decades. That's so neat to me.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: This is a big one: I used to bite my nails really bad, so I finally grew them out enough to be able to put polish on them. Right now I have on a sheer pink.

    I FALL ASLEEP AT: 11 p.m.

    THE LAST THING I DO: Mark off what I've done on my Barbie calendar. I write with my special pink pen everything that I have to do that day, so then the last thing I do is cross off what I've done.

  • Mamie Gummer

    Star, "Emily Owens M.D."

    After years of quietly crafting her career onstage, in small films and on TV (she was a regular on ABC's short-lived 2011 drama Off the Map), Meryl Streep's eldest daughter, 29 (and wife of actor Benjamin Walker) is grabbing her own headlines now as the star of the new medical dramedy on The CW.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Aside from my mom? I say the person I go to for advice is Claire Danes.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Emily Owens. Carrying the show and its development and getting up every day to try my best.

    BEST ADVICE: My dad [sculptor Don Gummer] always says, "Start by starting."

    CAN'T-MISS TV: I can't wait for Girls to come back. I miss it. It makes me feel stronger.

    MOVIE FIX: The Last Unicorn. It's a cartoon movie I watch whenever I go home. I pull out the VCR and pop it in. It makes me feel 8 years old.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING I'M: Eating, drinking and then trying to get through yoga class.

  • Rebel Wilson

    Star, "Super Fun Night" and "Pitch Perfect"

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    After a breakout role as Kristen Wiig's roommate in Bridesmaids, the Aussie actress, 26, is one of 2012's most ubiquitous scene-stealers: She's not only headlining Super Fun Night, the Conan O'Brien-produced comedy pilot for ABC, but she also has appeared in a half-dozen features, including Leslye Headland's comedy Bachelorette, the celeb-studded What to Expect When You're Expecting and the hit musical comedy mashup feature Pitch Perfect from director Jason Moore.

    BIG BREAK: When I auditioned for Bridesmaids. I improvised for Judd Apatow and Paul Feig for an hour -- I was initially reading for the Melissa McCarthy role. They gave me my first job in America. I was like a comedy ninja in that movie. Kicked some ass, and then left.

    BEST ADVICE: I had lunch with Amy Poehler at the Chateau Marmont. She said, "Whatever you do, you have to generate your own material."

    CAN'T-MISS TV: I love reality shows: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Dance Moms, Flipping Out.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: I came out with six movies this year. I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to be in one American movie? Everyone at home would be so impressed." But six?

    ONLINE OBSESSION: I'm on IMDb a lot. People send you scripts, and you're like, "Who are these people?" You don't want to go in a meeting and say, "Rock of Ages sucked!" and realize one of the people in the room was the producer.

  • Zosia Mamet

    Co-Star, "Girls"

    From her political-activist lesbian on Mad Men to a sex-obsessed teen in The Kids Are All Right, the offspring of David Mamet has never played it safe. Mamet, 24 (originally from Randolph, Vt.) surprised again as virginal goofball Shoshanna on HBO's Emmy-nominated comedy.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: I grew up in an industry family, but if I grew up on a farm in Iowa, I'd like to think that I would still want to do this. My mom was onstage when she was pregnant with me. I think it's just in my blood.

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: Still working on projects I love -- TV, film, stage -- as long as it's a challenge. Give me an 18-hour day on set or in the theater, and I will be the happiest person alive.

    WORST DAY: When we were shooting the crack episode for Girls. I had walking pneumonia and was half-naked running through the streets of Brooklyn and had to be energized enough to be on crack. It was fun but such a challenge.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING I'M: Sitting in a corner reading a book, or riding my horse.

  • Andrew Rannells

    Co-Star, "The New Normal"

    Valerie Macon/Getty Images

    Rannells picked up a Grammy and Tony nomination for his role on Broadway's The Book of Mormon. The actor, 34, from Omaha, Neb., has segued into a co-starring role on the NBC comedy and an arc on HBO darling Girls.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Judith Light. She was doing a play in New York while I was on Broadway. I've come to depend on her ear quite a lot.

    BIG BREAK: Book of Mormon changed my life. I'd been working for 10 years before that -- off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway and regionally.

    BEST ADVICE: Mark Ruffalo once said, "Your career is happening right now, it's not something that will start when you get a certain job."

    10 YEARS AGO: I was directing Saturday morning cartoons for a company called 4Kids Entertainment: Sonic the Hedgehog and Kirby.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: American Horror Story because I'm in love with Jessica Lange. She's so bonkers.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING: I'm cleaning, much to the horror of my boyfriend. I love ironing and vacuuming.

  • Joel Kinnaman

    Star, "Robocop"

    He started his career as a kid on a primetime soap in Sweden and didn't win over U.S. audiences until his compelling turn as a morally nebulous detective on AMC drama The Killing. The role netted him just enough cred to nab the coveted lead in Jose Padilha's remake of RoboCop, slated for 2014, alongside the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Gary Oldman.

    INDUSTRY MENTOR: Stellan Skarsgard.

    BEST ADVICE: Stay true to your taste and don't get misled by all the bullshit around the business.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: I shot a scene with Gary Oldman [for RoboCop] that might be the best thing I've ever done.

    MOVIE FIX: When I was a kid home sick -- or faking a stomachache -- the Star Wars movies and Indiana Jones series were my recipes for a two-day hiatus from school.

    ONLINE OBSESSION: I'm pretty obsessed with the election right now. I hope it goes Obama's way, as the rest of the world does.

    WHEN I'M NOT WORKING: I love to climb and play chess -- the kind of activities where you're forced to not think about anything else except keeping your concentration in the moment.

  • Stephen Amell

    Star, "Arrow"

    The Ontario-born Amell, 31, is the face -- and abs -- of The CW's DC Comics adaptation, which premiered to an impressive 4.14 million viewers and particularly strong reviews. The bow marked the network's best premiere since The Vampire Diaries' 2009 debut and earned the series a full-season order after two airings.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: I was offered a full-time position at an insurance brokerage that scared the shit out of me. I quit and went into acting.

    10 YEARS FROM NOW: I hope to be standing in my office looking at a big picture from Arrow's 100th episode party. I'm interested in directing and producing, too. I'd love to have the final word.

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Starting episode two, because Arrow was just an audition and the pilot was just a pilot.

    MOVIE FIX: The People vs. Larry Flynt.

    LUNCH SPOT: Cabo Cantina. Lunch usually involves a Corona.

  • Suraj Sharma

    Star, "Life of Pi"

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    Suraj Sharma, 19, makes an auspicious acting debut in Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's hotly anticipated adaptation of the hit novel. The adventure drama, which opens Nov. 21, is garnering awards buzz for the Indian actor, who, in his role as a boy stranded on a boat with a tiger, tackled a Cast Away-like acting feat.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: I never really intended to become an actor. Even today, I don't even know if I can act! All I am sure of is that I want to be a storyteller and make movies.

    BEST ADVICE: From Ang Lee: "You can be great at what you do. But humility and staying grounded and remembering where you're from is what makes you a good human being."

    BIGGEST 2012 ACCOMPLISHMENT: This movie is the only thing I've done, so it's definitely my proudest moment.

    CAN'T-MISS TV: I don't watch too much because then I can't study. [He's studying philosophy at St. Stephen's College in New Delhi.]

    WORST DAY: One day on Pi, 12 hours in, they were checking another wave sequence and I was on the boat trying my best to prove that I could still stand up. I felt like I was going a little mad.

  • Taylor Kinney

    Star, "Chicago Fire" and "Zero Dark Thirty"

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    After playing an EMT on NBC's drama Trauma and a werewolf on The CW's The Vampire Diaries, Kinney, 31, landed a starring role in Dick Wolf's newest drama, NBC's Chicago Fire. The Lancaster, Pa.-reared actor (who happens to be dating Lady Gaga) also snagged a role in Kathryn Bigelow's awards-bait drama Zero Dark Thirty, a chronicle of the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden.

    CAREER INSPIRATION: I got sick of roofing. I did carpentry work growing up. My buddies from home will call and say, "I'm on a roof and it's 100 degrees," and I think to myself, "I'm so lucky."

    10 YEARS AGO: I left college my junior year, moved to Hawaii and was framing houses. I was homeless and broke and had a 1970s truck.

    BEST DAY: When I booked Zero Dark Thirty. It was pretty secretive. They called to ask if I had a valid passport and said I would be traveling to the Middle East. I took a backpack and a duffle bag and was gone for a few months.

    WORST DAY: I remember it was a Thursday. We got a call after I had gone saying [Trauma was] canceled. I didn't get to say goodbye to anyone.

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