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NYC's Power Women

Dan Hallman

From personal photos to custom furniture: A look inside the corner offices of four entertainment leaders.

Abbe Raven
CEO, A+E Television Networks

As one of the most influential people in cable television, Raven, 58, oversees 10 networks, including A&E, Lifetime, Biography and History. "A recent world brand study showed us coming in at No. 3, ahead of Google and Apple," she says. "We work very, very hard and make sure that our programs are branded." Among the items -- some branded, some not -- in the Westchester County resident's light-filled, glass-fronted Midtown East Manhattan office ("I had them break down the walls to make me more accessible," she says) are awards (her networks have won 36 Emmys since Raven took over in 2005), a collection of inkwells and photos that show the former schoolteacher with Presidents Bush and Obama. And the baseball bat in the office? A gift from former CEO Nick Davatzes, whom Raven succeeded. "He gave that to everyone in management for being on his team," says the married mother of one son, "so it has a special memory for me." -- Georg Szalai

STORYTELLING TALISMANS: An inkwell collection is a nod to the History channel. "I love writing and storytelling, and I felt they were important to our success," says Raven. Many are Americana-style, but she also has on her desk a Chinese inkwell from the 1800s and a brass one from India.

AWARDS SEASON: An Emmy Governors Award for Save Our History, a History channel campaign for the preservation of historic sites, is among "the early ones for A&E and History that were the most special."

FAVORITE PHOTO: Raven is shown with Nancy Dubuc, president of History and Lifetime Networks, as they accept an award from then-first lady Laura Bush for History's commitment to historical preservation. Raven's other favorite photos include ones with Paul McCartney ("It was very exciting to actually take a picture with a Beatle," she says) and, of course, her family: "That is the center of my life, my real pride."

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Lauren Zalaznick
Chairman, Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media, NBCUniversal

With a portfolio of cable properties (Bravo, Oxygen, Style, mun2, PBS Sprout), a broadcast network (Telemundo), digital destinations (iVillage, Fandango, Daily Candy) and corporate initiatives (Green Is Universal), it stands to reason that Zalaznick, 49, would need a large office. "It accommodates different kinds of work and lots of people -- across a desk, around a conference table, on a couch," she says. Her bright corner office on Rockefeller Center's 26th floor offers glimpses of a career that began on NYC's indie-film circuit with Larry Clark's 1995 drama Kids; leaning against a wall is a framed profile of Zalaznick, then a line producer, used as a still in Tom Kalin's Leopold and Loeb 1992 biopic Swoon. Crowded on shelves are more recent photos, including Zalaznick with Michelle Obama for the Healthy at NBCU public-service initiative. Notes the West Village-dwelling married mother of three, "The patterns, books, photos and art reflect the professional and personal, a history of where I've been but not nostalgia for any time past." – Marisa Guthrie

AN ODE TO ROCKEFELLER PLAZA: Four photos by San Francisco artist Tucker Nichols of the iconic 30 Rock building and ice-skating rink hang in a grid on top of Zalaznick's bright and bold Alexander Girard typographic wallpaper.

THE TRAPPINGS OF SUCCESS: Emmys for Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (2007) and Top Chef (2010) share a shelf with Peabodys for Trio's The N Word (2004) and Bravo's Project Runway (2007).

BEHIND-THE-SCENES MACHINERY: Electronic detritus dominates a photo of a TV repair shop by
New York City photographer Joe Holmes. Pointing to an old Sony remote with a wheel, Zalaznick says, "I had that exact remote!"

A TOP HAT DESIGN DECOR ELEMENT: The pillows are a custom gift from Bravo's Top Design star and interior designer Jonathan Adler. Says Zalaznick, "They just arrived one day."

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Jane Rosenthal
Producer, co-founder of Tribeca Film Festival and Tribeca Film Institute

"I had the same furniture for more than 20 years, but a year ago I said, 'I can't think in here anymore,' " says Rosenthal, 55, about why she changed her downtown office. "At home, I am most productive at the kitchen table or on the bed," so she strived to re-create those areas. Rosenthal, who in 1989 co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival with creative partner Robert De Niro, replicated the kitchen-table experience with a big table that allows her and other tall people (she's 5-foot 9-1/2") to cross their legs without hitting their knees. "The Hudson River over there and the water towers are uniquely Tribeca," she says, pointing out of her office window at 375 Greenwich St., in the same building that houses De Niro's Tribeca Grill and The Weinstein Co. "Bob's office used to face toward the World Trade Center." Which is only fitting as the festival was born out of a creative response following 9/11, she adds. This year, Rosenthal, married with two girls, will make headway on her dream project: The Irishman, with Martin Scorsese and De Niro. "It would be so great to reunite Marty and Bob after all this time," she says. "I would be good if I make no other movie after that." -- Georg Szalai

FURNITURE WITH HISTORY: Rosenthal had Juan Alfaro Design make her table and bookshelves out of restored wood from an old Tribeca loft. "I wanted something that is old and new," she says, "because that is what this building is about."

PROMOTIONAL FIGURE: On Rosenthal's top shelf sits a Knuckle-head Smiff dummy from famous ventriloquist Paul Winchell. It wears a cap from 1997's Wag the Dog, which starred De Niro and on which he and Rosenthal were producers, and a Little Fockers banner.

TRIBECA MEMORABILIA: On the wall, a Julian Schnabel poster for the Tribeca Film Festival. Other sentimental items include Rosenthal's favorite photo from the first Tribeca festival, with Whoopi Goldberg and Nelson Mandela at City Hall.

THINKING CHAIR: To lend a bit of home to her office, Rosenthal brought in a Hans Wegner chair for when she wants to "curl up and read." The lighting is a work in progress, "but I like being in transition," which she says keeps the brain's juices flowing.

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Ellie Berger
President, Scholastic Trade Publishing

Berger's Soho office is like a kids bookstore, not surprising for the woman who heads the world's largest publisher of children's books, with a roster that's a veritable who's who of childhood hits and classics: Captain UnderpantsClifford the Big Red DogThe Baby-Sitters ClubHugo Cabret, Harry Potter and, of course, The Hunger Games trilogy. Scholastic is the dominant force in juvenile/young-adult lit, a catchall category for the under-21 set that now outsells adult fiction. Bolstered by Games, the company's children's publishing and distribution division, which includes Scholastic Trade, reports revenue up 38 percent for its fiscal third quarter compared with the same period in 2011, a pace that could put it over $1 billion on the year for the first time since 2008. Berger, 52, attributes the company's uncanny ability to pick YA books with crossover appeal to never losing sight of the core audience. "We're a children's-only publisher, so most important for us is that it appeals to the 12-year-olds," says the Long Island resident. What has Berger read lately that has her excited? The False Prince (April 1), the first in a trilogy about four boys competing to impersonate a lost prince, with sister division Scholastic Media already developing a movie. -- Andy Lewis

BIRTH OF A FRANCHISE: Berger loves to give out books to the steady stream of kids coming through her office (including when her sons, now 18 and 21, were younger) but says, "It's hard to find a copy of The Hunger Games here now." The first time Berger read it was on a plane with a colleague: "I got so excited that I started handing her chapters as I finished them!"

SIDE PROJECT: "I'm pretty proud of that -- it's impressive," says Berger of the rubber-band ball she has been building for years. "That's what kids really like. They come into my office, and they bounce it."

TREATS FOR COLLEAGUES: A present from two agents, the gumball machine "is like the water cooler," says Berger. "I love that people come sneaking in to get candy. Sometimes they try to make a conversation, but most often they're just after the candy. It makes a loud crank noise when they do it, so they get busted quickly."

TOY STORIES: Berger says the E.T. clock is the oldest thing in her office, swag from her second job in publishing at Berkley. She stumbled into the field, confessing to not knowing "what direction to go" after college until her parents, who both wrote children's books, introduced her to their editor, and she realized she had found her niche. Berger joined Scholastic in 1985, rising to president in 2007.

 

 

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