Women in Entertainment Power 100
The Hollywood Reporter’s 19th Annual List of the Females Who Rule Entertainment
76. Stephenie Meyer
Author of the Twilight books
Not since Judy Blume has an author so adeptly captured — and profited from — teen angst as Meyer. Her four-book Twilight series has sold more than 100 million copies and has been printed in 37 languages. In 2008, her net worth was $125 million, and Forbes estimates her annual income at $40 million. It’s hard to believe the Cave Creek, Ariz., housewife never had written so much as a short story before publishing her first book. According to Amazon, she ranks as the second-best-selling author of the decade, beaten only by Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling. “Twihards” can enjoy Bella and Edward’s tormented love affair in a movie franchise that has grossed more than $1.7 billion worldwide, with two films yet to come. Meyer surely won’t suffer much financially going forward; her post-Twilight trilogy, starting with No. 1 New York Times best-seller The Host, is in preproduction at Nick Wechsler Prods. and is rumored to begin shooting early next year.
77. Sharon Jackson
The Scout: Sharon jackson has lists. Hundreds of them. On her BlackBerry. On legal pads. On Post-Its. In her office. On her fridge. For just about everything, she’s made a list.
But the list that counts most for the obsessive agent is her clients, and she’s amassed a who’s-who of comedy stars, from big earners (Jack Black) to the quirky (Jason Schwartzman) to the unexpected (John C. Reilly) to ones who straddle film and TV, like How I Met Your Mother’s Jason Segel, for whom Jackson recently landed his longtime dream project: writing Disney’s relaunch of The Muppets.
So it’s strange that, in person, Jackson herself is actually quite serious — or at least, her humor is rather quirky. The showbiz veteran, who spent 15 years at UTA before jumping to WME, is direct, if not intense, and has a nonstop work ethic that continues despite having a 6-month-old daughter with husband Woody Jackson, a composer and touring musician who recently scored the hit video game Red Dead Redemption.
It might surprise people who know how businesslike she is that even comedy makes her cry, if it’s really good. “I’ve cried at funny moments,” she admits, her eyes sparkling behind her purple, plastic-framed glasses. “That’s my litmus test in knowing someone’s special. The through line for anyone I work with is that they literally have to move me.”
Emotion isn’t the word usually associated with Jackson, who’s not known for her cuddly personality. But sitting in her office at WME, where she has worked since 2008, she’s surprisingly mellow. Music is the prevalent theme, not comedy. She’s got a framed picture of Tom Waits on her wall; can rattle off rock trivia at a moment’s notice; and even met her husband at Club Largo, where she first saw Black in Tenacious D, after which she landed the band an HBO series.
“It definitely caught people’s attention,” she says. “It was the moment that crystallized Black in pop culture and got him High Fidelity.”
Fidelity is what Jackson — the former Sharon Sheinwold — brings to her clients. That and knowledge about the industry, which she sees as increasingly crucial, across all platforms. “To represent people well,” she says, “you have to offer them more than they could get across the street. You have to offer them perspective in all areas of the business.”
But she’s also brought an aggressiveness that has rubbed some people the wrong way, not least her former colleagues at UTA. “If I love some of the talent,” she admits, “I just will not be stopped.”
Although she doesn’t directly address her exit from UTA — an agency that, in the days when Jackson started there, was known for a degree of in-fighting that has since vanished — she hints it had a bit to do with camaraderie: When asked about the transition to WME, she says it was “great. I love having so many inspiring colleagues.”
Jackson got her own inspiration while growing up in Islip, Long Island, the child of a high school principal and a lawyer who were supportive of her decision to pursue entertainment. She went to film school at NYU before enrolling at the AFI, after which a professor recommended her for a job in the UTA mailroom.
She loved it. “I was in the mailroom with [HBO’s] Sue Naegle, [agents] Marty Bowen and David Kramer,” she recalls of her then-colleagues, all now prominent in the industry. Then she quips: “Many other things probably have scarred me for life but not that.”
Nor have her clients. Many have been with her for years, though in the early days she had more time for indulgences with them, like playing Scrabble with Black. “Back then, we were pretty evenly matched,” she says. “Now he is playing at tournament level. I can’t compete with that!”
With other clients including Glee’s Lea Michele and writer Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Jackson is going to need even more of those lists. In fact, she admits to having lists of lists, which she saves like heirlooms. And she keeps making them, even during WME meetings.
“There’s an incredible amount of doodles on those lists too,” she admits. “And then there’s these drawings of people around the table. It gets pretty elaborate.”
— Jackson profile by Jeff Miller
78. Jana Winograde
Exec VP Business Affairs and Administration, ABC Entertainment
Winograde oversees the deal-making that underpins the development of most programming on the network as well as the negotiations that allow content through syndication and online channels. “I have the ability to be focused, firm and tough while always trying to be fair,” she says. Winograde also prides herself in pushing boundaries, touting a deal for Rookie Blue as an example of one show she negotiated that gave ABC more original content for the summer and licensing pacts with Hulu that have given fans more digital access to ABC shows. When she’s not at work, she’s an interior design buff, going so far as to redecorate friends’ homes.
79. Lisa Gregorian
Chief Marketing Officer, Warner Bros. Television Group
Gregorian has defied job-market odds by logging in more than 24 years at Warners. “These guys are my mentors, my colleagues and my friends,” says Gregorian, who in May was promoted to chief marketing officer after holding the position of senior vp of Warner Bros. Television Creative Services since 2003. Gregorian, who started her career as a sales assistant at Lorimar Pictures in 1986, has achieved great success in her field because of her ability to foster a dialogue with fans, most visible in Warner Bros.’ enormous presence at Comic-Con; in July, her team masterminded a sing-along of the Big Bang Theory theme song, accompanied by Barenaked Ladies. “I love Comic‑Con. I go crazy,” says the married mother of a 16-year-old son, who considers herself a hard-core fan of the San Diego-based convention. “It’s crazy and it’s crowded, but it’s 140,000 people who all are there to celebrate a lot of good product and programming and characters that we’ve created. That’s a compliment.”
80. Toni Howard
Motion Picture Agent, ICM
For years, Howard has maintained a singular client list, including such vets as Michael Caine, Holly Hunter and Samuel L. Jackson (who recently signed a deal with Marvel for an option to star in nine films as Nick Fury), along with new sensations such as Eric Stonestreet (ABC’s Modern Family). What’s her secret? “I’m passionate, and people know I’m not full of shit,” says Howard, who began her career in the mid-’70s as a casting director (Stir Crazy, Tootsie). The statistics speak for themselves: During a quarter-century as an agent, Howard has helped her clients land 15 Academy Award nominations, 71 Emmy nominations and 59 Golden Globe nominations. This year, two of her clients, Laura Linney and Christopher Walken, were nominated for Tony Awards. In February, she stepped down from her post as ICM’s head of motion picture talent, but she has no plans to retire anytime soon. “I like action,” says Howard, who recently signed a new three-year deal. “You sign someone, it’s exciting.”
81. Nina Shaw
Partner, Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka
Representing such top clients as Spike Lee, Jamie Foxx and Laurence Fishburne, Shaw is an undisputed power broker — but not without challenges. Risk-averse studio executives don’t take many chances these days, which might bias them toward reliably mainstream faces instead of the up-and-coming talent on Shaw’s roster. Fortunately, she has discovered digital platforms like YouTube as a way of democratizing entertainment and showing industry execs that her clients are developing projects with massive potential. For instance, representing Kasi Lemmons this past year, Shaw was able to tap into online enthusiasm to build a case to Fox Searchlight that a film adaptation of Langston Hughes’ 1961 gospel musical Black Nativity had the possibility of becoming not just a one-year hit at the box office but also something that showed up on television every Christmas. “Execs might not believe it at first, but then you can say, ‘Listen, let’s open your computer, go online and see how many hits these clips have generated,’ ” she says.
The Woman Who Has Most Inspired Me: “Inez Smith Reid. She was one of my professors in college and a great civil rights advocate who went on to become a judge at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. She led by example and articulated exactly what she expected of her students. And she’s always taken tremendous interest in our lives.”
82. Sonya Rosenfeld
Head of TV Literature Group, CAA
Rosenfeld wasn’t a lock for agency life. A college internship at UCLA had her working in A&R at Motown Records during the 1980s. “Rick James came by one day, wearing a full-length leopard coat,” recalls the CAA veteran, who during the past 25 years has built a roster of clients that includes Graham Yost and Salma Hayek’s Ventanarosa, landing Matthew Perry Mr. Sunshine at ABC and bringing the Veena Cabreros Sud series The Killing to AMC. But 2010 has had its lows, too: Rosenfeld, married to CAA agent Michael Rosenfeld, lost her father, Dr. Mel Goumas, and father-in-law, CAA founding partner Michael Rosenfeld. For comfort, she’s returned to her musical roots, taking piano lessons with her son and playing in recitals. “There are all these kids, from 5 to 16 — and then it’s like, ‘Here’s Sonya Rosenfeld,’ ” she says with a laugh.
83. Jennifer Nicholson Salke
Exec VP Development, 20th Century Fox
Fox’s Glee and ABC’s Modern Family, which Nicholson Salke helped develop, became the buzziest shows on network television last season and dominated the comedy categories at the Emmys, which she calls “the highlight of my career.” Another well-received comedy, Fox’s Raising Hope, became the fall’s first new series to get a back-nine pickup. Although Lone Star fizzled, her enthusiasm for taking chances on high-concept dramas hasn’t: Look no further than Fox’s upcoming sci-fi epic Terra Nova, from executive producer Steven Spielberg, which recently kicked off production in Australia. “It’s something we believe in, and we’d rather go down in flames than stay in a middling creative area,” she says.
The Woman Who Has Most Inspired Me: “Dana Walden. In managing this business, it’s critical to get out ahead of problems and make really tough decisions. Dana has always encouraged me to follow my gut aggressively in all areas, whether it be walking out on the plank to pursue a creative endeavor or pulling out of a piece of business I don’t believe in. She trusts my gut, and that’s given me an amazing opportunity here to shine. And she’s a wonderful and generous friend.”
Founder and CEO, 42west
Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Mike Nichols and Scott Rudin — no press agent shepherds the public image of more Oscar-winning talent than Dart. The company she started six years ago after being pushed out of PMK has helped her maintain a great reputation as well as her roster of awards-season regulars (among her 12 campaigns this year are The Social Network and Rabbit Hole). The New York-based mother of two, who oversees 100 employees on both coasts, says she’s surprised how much fun having her own business can be. “You get to set the tone for how you want a company to run,” she says about her partnership with Amanda Lundberg, Cynthia Swartz and Allan Mayer. Of the firm’s biggest signing this year? “When an icon like a Lady Gaga comes on board, they must think we know what we’re doing,” Dart says.
85. Nancy Josephson
Josephson earned early acclaim as the first female president of an agency, ICM, the company her father founded in 1955. But she’s just as proud of an earlier role: college DJ. The woman who continues to nurture TV talent for WME was such an adept mixmaster that she was offered a professional gig after graduating from Brown. “It was that or law school. I could have been in rock ’n’ roll,” she says. Her clients are grateful she chose the agency path: This year, Josephson sold an idea for Tyra Banks to write her first novel as well as develop her own fashion and beauty site, shepherded a deal with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN to bring Rosie O’Donnell back to TV, saw longtime clients David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik get Episodes to air on Showtime and helped Craig Ferguson sell a scripted show to CBS. “It’s about bringing people’s passions to life,” she says.
86. Linda Lichter
Partner, Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler & Feldman
If there’s one thing Lichter has learned trolling the European film festival circuit for interesting projects, it’s the power of word-of-mouth. “The best recommendations come from other clients,” she says. Lichter’s trips to Europe have paid off recently through her representation of Swedish companies Yellowbird and Tre Vanner Produktion, for which she negotiated the sale of rights to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to Sony and sold Easy Money (a remake of the Swedish film Snabba Cash) to Zac Efron’s company, respectively. When not traveling, she’s at home in Los Angeles with her hobby: beekeeping. Lichter bought the bees in hope of supporting the 14 types of fruit trees that grow in her yard and curing a nasty hay-fever allergy by drinking the honey. Alas, the bees died. “I’ll try it again,” she promises.
87. Jennifer Rudolph Walsh
Executive VP/Co-Head of the Global Literary Department, WME
Needing only four hours of sleep a night gives Walsh plenty of time for reading, which explains why she is something of a publishing phenomenon. The agency has published 203 books in 2010, of which 130 have been New York Times best-sellers, including new fiction by Seth Grahame-Smith and books from chefs Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri as well as actress Portia de Rossi, whose memoir, Unbearable Lightness, recently debuted at No. 3. And that doesn’t include selling the proposal for I Am Number Four at the same time it was set up on the feature side, with Michael Bay producing the 2011 release. A member of the WME board, she has worked at the agency since she sold her own company, the Writers Shop, to William Morris in 2000. But rubbing elbows with some of the agency’s stars isn’t her thing. “I garden. I play very bad tennis. I try to cook, and my family humors me,” she says. “It’s the opposite of glamorous.”
The Woman Who Has Most Inspired Me: “I’m inspired by all acts of braveness. My historical hero is Rosa Parks in that she stood up and showed how one person, even a person that feels powerless, has the power to change the world.”
88. Lisa Berger
Executive VP Entertainment Programming, E! entertainment
Berger might be the only executive in town who owes her career to a board game. As a communications major at Arizona State, her wordplay proficiency earned the Los Angeles native a spot as a contestant on the game show Scrabble. She didn’t win, but the connection led Reg Grundy Prods. to hire her after graduation as a contestant coordinator on Sale of the Century. A stint as a wrangler for MTV’s Remote Control followed, and by the time she left the music network 12 years later, she’d risen to senior vp original programming. At E! she has developed such network-defining shows as The Girls Next Door, plus spinoffs Kendra and Holly’s World; Chelsey Lately; new entry Bridalplasty; and, of course, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. But her love for word games hasn’t waned. “I do a lot of crossword puzzles on the weekend,” says the married mother of two daughters. “It’s one of my ways of unwinding.”
The Woman Who Has Most Inspired Me: “My grandmother. Everyone called her Auntie Mame. She had an infectious personality and was the ultimate free spirit who was also a very smart cookie. She wore crazy outfits, collected strange artifacts and always had great dinner parties — she made a killer chicken soup. She opened her heart and opened her arms and welcomed everybody. People have said that I remind them of her.”
89. Donna Gigliotti
President of Production, The Weinstein Co.
Gigliotti says it was the “arrogance of youth” that landed her an interview with Martin Scorsese for an assistant job on Raging Bull. It was even more arrogant when she told him she wanted a Cartier watch. Well, she got both: After wrapping, the maestro presented her with the timepiece she still wears. As an independent producer, the Sarah Lawrence graduate went on to win an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love and was nominated for The Reader. She recently returned to work with her old bosses, Bob and Harvey Weinstein — with whom she made Shakespeare — in a hybrid executive/producer position guaranteeing her at least two films a year that she’ll actively produce, including the Sarah Jessica Parker starrer I Don’t Know How She Does It and David O. Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook. Gigliotti is thrilled to have the opportunity. “To be an independent producer right now, I don’t know how you put food on the table,” she says.
90. Karen Kehela-Sherwood
Co-Chairman, Imagine Films
The currently Los Angeles-based Kehela-Sherwood credits bosses Brian Grazer and Ron Howard for allowing her to maintain her job while living in New York for several years. “It’s access to an entirely different way of thinking,” she says. But no one understands her bosses’ thinking better than the charming and low-profile Kehela-Sherwood, whose partnership with them dates to an internship while studying communications at UCLA. The Imagine veteran says it’s still a unique thrill to see a long-in-development film, like Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist, go into production. Although this year’s Robin Hood didn’t take audiences by storm, Kehela-Sherwood — married to Ben Sherwood, who was tapped as president of ABC News on Dec. 3 — is keeping a close eye on several other Imagine projects: The Dark Tower trilogy, a Howard-directed film series as well as an NBC Universal TV series; comedy The Dilemma, also directed by Howard; and Gus Van Sant’s winter release, the drama Restless.
91. Vanessa Murchison
President, Fox Animation
Murchison was one of those “kids with a Super 8 camera” growing up, and her passion for storytelling hasn’t waned. After attending UC Berkeley and graduating from UCLA’s producing program, she landed an internship at Fox, where she has gone on to oversee such hits as Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and the franchise’s upcoming next installment, Ice Age: Continental Drift; Carlos Saldanha’s Brazil-set 3D feature Rio; and the supersecret Leaf Men, from director Chris Wedge. The exec, who once played in a steel-drum band, says having a physicist father put in her DNA the vast computerized world that’s now crucial to animation. “I’m in awe of people who are steeped in technology,” she says.
92. Orly Adelson
President, Dick Clark Prods.
Before she moved to the U.S. more than 25 years ago, Adelson was a lieutenant in the Israeli army, an experience that proved handy in Hollywood. “In the army, exactly like in any company, people have to work together to achieve something,” she says. “You can’t work alone.” That certainly has been the case since the former producer joined DCP in 2008, overseeing the awards-show and specials powerhouse that features the Golden Globes, the American Music Awards and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest among the company’s titles. She also has hit the mark with So You Think You Can Dance, a sweet spot on Fox’s summer schedule. This year, Adelson, a yoga and pilates enthusiast, expanded DCP’s presence in the digital sphere, creating a “360º interactive social experience” online for each of its shows.
93. Nicole Clemens
Head of Motion Picture Literary Department, ICM
“I watch everything,” Clemens says. “The Vampire Diaries, Boardwalk Empire, Sons of Anarchy … I’m obsessed.” Her obsession benefits clients who include Emmy-nominated TV director Jason Winer (Modern Family), helming the feature remake of Arthur; director Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid); and Oscar-winning screenwriter Ronald Harwood (The Pianist), who is writing Steven Spielberg’s Martin Luther King Jr. biopic. Clemens, married to TV writer Vaun Wilmott, is particularly proud of how she has transitioned clients from the small screen to big. “It used to be very uncool to be in TV,” she says. “The stigma is gone.”
94. Debbee Klein
Co-Head Literary Department, Paradigm
While giving birth to her second son, Klein “had my assistant there. I did the C-section, and then when I came out of the anesthesia, we finished up what I had to do.” It’s that fierce focus that helped Klein make the leap from being a 19-year-old receptionist at Norman Lear’s company to a 21-year-old literary agent at the Irv Schecter Co., where she went on to run the TV department for nearly two decades before joining Paradigm in 1997. Today, she’s on Paradigm’s three-person management committee and packages high-profile series like this season’s The Event for NBC. She also reps a who’s who of showrunners including The Good Wife co-creators Robert and Michelle King and Shane Brennan of NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles — the shows that make up CBS’ entire top-rated Tuesday lineup. Not surprisingly, free time is a foreign concept for the Los Angeles native. “I’m not really good at it,” she says.
95. Sheryl Sandberg
With more than 500 million users worldwide, Facebook has become a no-brainer marketing tool for Hollywood. “You get your customers to sell your product for you,” says Sandberg, the social networking site’s COO for the past three years. She reports a “deep commitment to the entertainment business right now” at Facebook for marketing films, TV shows — heck, even elections. “Our town hall meeting on Election Night was a partnership with ABC. It was very cool,” says the Silicon Valley-based Harvard MBA and former senior exec at Google who now spends a great deal of her time outside Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calilf., meeting with key advertisers in Hollywood. “There’s a real ability to have a one-to-one relationship with the consumer,” Sandberg says. “All marketers, especially those in entertainment, want that.”
96. Leslie Siebert
Managing Partner, Gersh
Siebert is a master of spotting clients and then helping them reinvent careers after tough patches — as she’s done with such clients as Winona Ryder (Black Swan, Frankenweenie), former Friends star David Schwimmer (he directed the upcoming feature Trust) and one-time Roseanne moppet Sara Gilbert (exec producing and co-hosting the new CBS talker The Talk). “Well-established actors are leaving the big agencies because they’re tired of sitting there,” says Siebert, who joined the agency straight out of UCLA in 1984 and now runs it with Bob and David Gersh. “They want being taken care of made a priority.” When not taking care of her clients — who also include Catherine Keener and Sam Rockwell — the self-proclaimed control freak helps out at home with husband Steven Siebert, head of management/production company Lighthouse Entertainment, and their two sons, ages 12 and 14. She also is one of the inaugural mentors in The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Mentor Program.
The Woman Who Has Most Inspired Me: “Catherine Keener is the woman who inspires me the most with her brilliance as an actress, her integrity as a person and her heart as a friend.”
97. Kelly Bush
Founder, ID PR
Bush is one of the industry’s most effective publicists for putting out fires since Pat Kingsley effectively retired. The karate black belt is unafraid to threaten journalists when she needs to, which might not make her popular with the media but has made her loved by clients. It was Bush who got Entertainment Tonight to pull a clip that would have shown the late Heath Ledger at a party with drugs, and it was she who steered Cynthia Nixon as she went public with her sexuality. Her company speaks for clients as diverse as Sean Penn, Alicia Keys and Christopher Nolan. She also is a crucial player in awards season and, with her staff of 70, has helped clients garner 22 Oscar nominations. With offices in New York, London and Los Angeles, she also advises Sony Classics and Warners on corporate matters that can affect everything from a movie’s opening to a studio executive’s reputation.
98. Lori McCreary
Producer, Co-Founder and CEO, Revelations Entertainment
McCreary’s entertainment roots go back to being onstage at 8, and she grew up believing she would own her own theater. That all changed in 1992, when she arrived in Zimbabwe on the set of Bopha! and met her future producing partner, Morgan Freeman. She was a first-time producer; he was a first-time director. “It was trial by fire,” she says, but they’ve honed their experience on dozens of projects since they teamed in 1996, including last year with Invictus. In addition to a first-look film deal with Warners, Revelations has moved into TV production this year: Its Through the Wormhole was the highest-rated series premiere in Science Channel history, and Revelations recently closed a first-look deal with Discovery. McCreary also sits on the board of the PGA and spearheaded tests of the major digital cameras. “We’re trying to give producers a tool to be able to accurately budget a film,” she says.
99. Jean Prewitt
President and COO, Independent Film & Television Alliance
A Harvard and Georgetown Law graduate, Prewitt has been heading the independent sector’s trade organization for close to a decade. True, it’s an awfully long way from her beginnings as a Wall Street lawyer, but with her background, it makes sense: Prewitt is heading the indie equivalent of the MPAA, dealing with legal and tax matters as well as overseeing the annual American Film Market, one of the world’s most important movie-sales gatherings. Her responsibilities may seem dull compared to shooting a movie, but actions like her successful effort this year to get a financial export initiative grant from Congress to open a U.S. pavilion at Hong Kong Filmart are pivotal for independent filmmakers. “It’s a breakthrough in getting the indie perspective out there,” she says.
100. The Kardashian Sisters
It takes talent and a lot of skill to turn sex-tape fame into an empire, but that’s what Kim and her sisters have done. Their Ryan Seacrest-produced E! show Keeping Up With the Kardashians is the most-watched in network history, beating its own spinoff, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami; the latter’s August finale trounced Mad Men, which aired against it. Kim started producing this year with E!’s The Spin Crowd, a show about an L.A. publicity firm, adding to her roughly $5.7 million in annual earnings. The sisters’ DASH clothing boutiques in L.A. and Miami have inspired a third show, Kourtney and Khloe Take New York; their Kardashian Konfidential self-help/fashion book hit stores in November; and the Kardashian Khaos retail boutique recently opened in Las Vegas’ Mirage Hotel & Casino. “Our business model is based off of our fans and the things we truly love,” Khloe says. “Our dad instilled a strong work ethic in us and taught us if we wanted something, we had to work hard to get it.” Adds Kim, “We want to take on projects we never thought we’d be doing, and work on making them a reality.”
Selection Criteria: For The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue, editors based their selection of candidates and ranking on the following: 1. Revenue generated for their companies; 2. valuation of assets; 3. number of employees overseen; 4. impact and influence within the film and television industries; 5. ability to get projects greenlighted or proximity to greenlight power; and 6. reputation (general standing within the entertainment community, in addition to achievements).