Laura Ziskin: 7 Things You Didn't Know About the Spider-Man Producer

6:22 AM PST 06/13/2011 by THR staff
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Look back on her notable career.

Laura Ziskin died Sunday at 61. Here are a few things you may not know about the Pretty Woman and Spider-Man producer:

1.  Ziskin became the first woman to produce the Academy Awards telecast alone in 2002. In 2007, Ziskin produced the Academy Awards for the second time and instituted the first “green” Oscar ceremony.

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2. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. In May 2008, Ziskin, along with Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the Noreen Fraser Foundation and Ellen Ziffren, announced the creation of Stand Up to Cancer. The initiative is intended to enable cutting-edge research targeting all types of cancer led by "dream teams" of doctors. More than 100 celebrities donated their time to appear in the show and in public service announcements promoting it, including Halle Berry, Josh Brolin, Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank, Tilda Swinton, Charlize Theron and Forest Whitaker.

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3. In 1994, Ziskin was named president of Fox 2000 Pictures, a newly formed feature film division of 20th Century Fox.  Under her stewardship, Fox 2000 released such films as Courage Under Fire, One Fine Day, Inventing the Abbotts, Volcano, Soul Food, Never Been Kissed, Fight Club, Anywhere but Here, Anna and the King and The Thin Red Line, which garnered seven Oscar nominations, including one for best picture. She left Fox 2000 after five years and quickly landed a production deal at Columbia.

4. With the Spider-Man films at Sony, Ziskin has overseen one of the most successful film franchises in history. Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004) have grossed more than $1.5 billion worldwide, and Spider-Man 3 (2007) became the highest-grossing film in Sony’s history with his worldwide take of more than $890 million. A rebooted Spider-Man film, also produced by Ziskin, just wrapped shooting in May for release next year.

5. In 2000, Ziskin teamed with George Clooney to produce the live television movie Fail Safe, directed by Stephen Frears. It was the first telefilm to air live in more than 35 years and was nominated for six Emmy Awards.

6. She was nominated for three Emmy Awards -- for her Oscar shows (hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and Ellen DeGeneres, respectively) and for the 2002 HBO telefilm Dinner With Friends.

7. Ziskin graduated from USC School of Cinema-Television in 1973 and got her start as a personal assistant to producer Jon Peters.

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