THR's Producer Roundtable: 7 Behind-the-Scenes Players on Saying No to Directors, What to Do When Studios Kill Projects

 Jessica Chou

Letty Aronson, Tim Bevan, Jim Burke, Chris Columbus, Michael De Luca, Kathleen Kennedy and Bill Pohlad explain how movies really get made.

THR: Who are your heroes?

Kennedy: I've been very fascinated by Steve Jobs. I'm sure because of everything that has been written. I thought it was fascinating that he walked all the time. I do that. On a set, I'll just leave and go for a walk.

Bevan: I walk my kids to school, and I see these other people with their phones in their ear. You should be talking to your kids!

Kennedy: I consciously don't take my phone. Ever.

THR: Why are you fascinated by Steve Jobs?

Kennedy: A complicated personality, and I think he had certain similarities to various personalities in this business, where you're dealing with intensely creative people.

De Luca: He married visionary creativity to a business, which is what we do sometimes.

Kennedy: Yes, exactly. But it's fascinating because even if you're in the creative business, you still don't completely understand where those ideas come from.

THR: Did you know him?

Kennedy: I met him a couple of times. I don't think he was an easy person to know.

THR: What about other people's heroes?

Pohlad: [Gone With the Wind producer] David O. Selznick. Looking back on that era in Hollywood, there's something that's really great about that.

THR: Could Selznick exist in this world?

Pohlad: I don't know.

De Luca: [Late studio executive] John Calley is my hero for a bunch of reasons. He was a man who was generous to me personally, just in terms of panicked lunches that I'd request for advice and just being a mentor. He was very generous with his time with me. And as an executive-turned-producer, I just look at his run at Warner Bros. from 1970 to 1980 and I just worship all the movies. And then his career as a producer, and then his second career as an executive again. He kind of jump-started MGM-UA and then came over to Columbia.

Columbus: Heroes? I'd have to say Bruce Springsteen. Because to me, Bruce represents integrity and always staying true to yourself. I've created a couple of wrongs and I've always tried to go back [to fix them], and when I went back, I would say, "What would Bruce think?"


ABOUT THR'S ROUNDTABLE SERIES: The Hollywood Reporter's annual Roundtable Series will conclude with the Animation Roundtable, which runs in a stand-alone special issue of the magazine available on Dec. 16. The series will return in the spring and shift to television talent, with the season's Emmy contenders in acting and writing categories.

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