Producer Laura Ziskin: A Crusader Remembered
In her own words, Amy Pascal, Sony Pictures Entertainment's co-chairman, describes her closest friend -- who died June 12 after a long battle with cancer -- as a woman who "wasn't much for regrets."
Laura was a force of nature. there was no one like her. When she got an idea, she would push forward in a way I've never, ever seen before. She was a definite person, a very certain person. She did not look back; the word "obstacle" did not exist in her vocabulary. That's an advantage in many things in life, but it probably makes you a little lonely because you're the only one like that.
Look what she did with Stand Up to Cancer. She put together that Dream Team of scientists, raised the kind of money she did, and at the same time she was producing Spider-Man and the Academy Awards. Laura would make things happen overnight. She was a real producer.
With movies, she would always talk about doing something different. Going with your gut -- she was a big one for going with your gut. She'd always say, "Do you feel it in your tummy?" It was the same with her friends and family. Once you were in with her, God help anyone who tried to f-- with you. And the great thing about her is that she was consistent, the same attitude in all things.
I remember being with her in Toronto on the set of To Die For, watching Nicole Kidman dancing in front of the car to "Sweet Home Alabama," and Laura just looked at me and said, "See!"
She was a very headstrong girl. I never heard her regret one thing. It was always, "Move on." She just wasn't much for regrets. I don't think we ever had a conversation about that. She loved her daughter and husband. She cared a lot about women. She cared about good stories. She loved writers and directors. What she did was listen to them, not that she didn't talk a lot herself.
The guiding hand of a producer is to always make sure the director is telling the story they want to tell and helping them make the best version. Laura was really good at that. She was challenging. She would ask the same question over and over to make sure that's what a person really thought.
You had to be as clear about what you thought as she was about what she thought.
She didn't do anything without making it into something. Lunch was something. A walk was something. Buying a ring was something. Everything was done with completeness and thoughtfulness and distinctness. She gave me this 50th birthday party, and she wanted to give me the black-and-white party Truman Capote had at the Plaza in 1966. And it was to the detail, including the menu.
She was a producer, but she was also a stuff person. She was a clotheshorse, she loved jewels, she loved cars. She loved stuff. And she had great stuff. She always wore sunglasses, everywhere. I've been looking at pictures of her. At my damn baby shower, she was wearing sunglasses. At night, she was wearing sunglasses.
She had no problem being emotional and being honest about what she thought. No problem about telling people the material wasn't good enough.
She was completely unafraid. She never cared if you liked her or not. She just cared whether it was good or not.
What I learned from her is to never give up. She was quite a spirit. There's no such thing as filling her spot. That spot will rest.