THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
Stern remembers the precise moment that led her to a career in entertainment. "I was 21 and doing graduate work in comparative literature," recalls the Brooklyn native. "I woke up one morning and asked myself: 'What am I thinking? I'll never make a living doing this!' "
After earning a law degree from UCLA, Stern landed in the legal department at Columbia in 1982 and soon "was seduced away" by the law firm that is now Bloom Hergott Cook Diemer & Klein, where she helped develop a television department.
It was a move to Lionsgate in 2003 that led Stern to her true calling as one of the key architects of the movie company's cutting-edge TV division, whose properties include Showtime's Weeds and Nurse Jackie, AMC's Mad Men, Starz's Boss and the upcoming FX comedy -- and much-buzzed-about Charlie Sheen comeback vehicle -- Anger Management.
Says Stern of Lionsgate's TV slate: "I feel like I've died and gone to heaven. We are still small and specific compared to other larger studios. This allows for a lot of cross-pollination with our film division." In that vein, she notes the deal she set up at ABC to bring The Lincoln Lawyer to television. "I get to play in a lot of sandboxes," says Stern.
That playtime has been extremely lucrative for the 14-year-old company, which grew from $8 million in revenue in 2000 to more than $350 million in 2010, with Lionsgate properties earning a total of 98 Emmy nominations and 19 wins under her watch. Stern, who's single and enjoys supporting small local theater companies in her free time, says Anger Management has been "one of the nicest collaborations I've had, maybe ever," and she puts to rest any notion that the project's star is back for more tabloid glory.
"Charlie has been in all the showrunner meetings. He's very smart and very enthusiastic," says Stern (whose age falls, she says, "somewhere between 40 and dead"). "We all like to have second chances, so this has been nice to see."
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