50 Next Gen Alumni Dish on What Terrified Them Way Before Netflix

6:15 AM 11/8/2018

by Lacey Rose

It's been 25  years since The Hollywood Reporter's first Next Generation list. Now, Hollywood’s one-time rising stars offer advice to the new class and reflect on how the definition of success has changed.

From left: Peter Rice, Samie Falvey, Terence Carter, Sue Naegle
From left: Peter Rice, Samie Falvey, Terence Carter, Sue Naegle
Tiffany Rose/Getty Images; Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images; Getty Images; FilmMagic

As The Hollywood Reporter welcomes in a new Next Gen class, 50 alumni reveal the things they cannot do without, how their priorities have changed, advice for the newcomers and more.

  • My one piece of advice for the Next Gen Class of 2018 is …

    COURTENAY VALENTI, 1994 Studio execs have to say "no" more than they get to say "yes," so learn to say the former with kindness.

    DAVID LINDE, 1995 Look around the room, not just at who is speaking.

    KARL AUSTEN, 1996 Stay hungry.

    PETER RICE, 1999 Speak up and don't let anyone convince you your ideas aren't valuable.

    SONYA ROSENFELD, 1999 Don't look over your shoulder at another person's success.

    NICOLE CLEMENS, 2001 Read everything.

    CRAIG ERWICH, 2001 Return your phone calls.

    TRACEY PAKOSTA, 2001 Don't be afraid to stand for something or someone.

    CHARLES D. KING, 2002 You didn't make it on this list by accident. Never let up in doing the work that got you here.

    SUSAN ROVNER, 2004 Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."

    DAN LIN, 2005 Embrace what makes you different.

    DEVON FRANKLIN, 2009 Don't be afraid to be who you are, not who you think the industry wants you to be.

    TERENCE CARTER, 2009 Be nice to your assistants. They will be the Next Gen Class of 2028, and you will be answering to them.

    THERESA KANG, 2012 Travel outside of the Hollywood bubble so you can see how real people (your audiences) experience their lives and what they'll be inspired by. 

    JULIE RAPAPORT, 2014 Never stop watching. (And save a copy of this edition of The Hollywood Reporter. You're going to want it!)

  • Why are people in this town still talking about … ? And why aren’t they talking about … ?

    GAVIN POLONE, 1994 Creating projects from existing IP … and not making something good.

    SUE NAEGLE, 1998 Overnight ratings … and not why there are so many mediocre shows clogging up all the platforms and networks.

    DOUG BELGRAD, 2000 The end of theatrical moviegoing … and not the uniquely powerful shared experience of theatrical moviegoing.

    PAKOSTA, '01 Overnight linear ratings … not digital ratings growth.

    DAVID MINER, 2001 Fast overnight ratings for serialized series …and not the lack of Latinx representation in all areas of the industry.

    SAMIE FALVEY, 2003 Put pilots … and not how wireless earbuds probably give you cancer.

    FRANKLIN LEONARD, 2009 The way it's always been done … and not the way it could be done.

  • If I knew what the industry would look like now, I would have …

    KEVIN HUVANE, 1994 Still done it all over again.

    TODD GARNER, 1997 Stayed at Disney.

    ARI GREENBURG, 2000 Tried to help a Hollywood studio start a streaming service 15 years ago.


    ROWENA ARGUELLES, 2002 Invested in Netflix, Amazon and juice bars.

    MATT CHERNISS, 2004 Never started my DVD collection.

    JESSE JACOBS, 2010 Learned more about video games.

    JESSICA LACY, 2013 Gone into TV.

  • The No. 1 priority when putting together a project back when I was on the list was … And now it is …

    POLONE, '94 Was it great? … and now it's, "Does it seem like something else that was successful?"

    BETH SWOFFORD, 1995 That it could be a great film … and now it's telling your story in whatever medium suits it best.

    KAREY BURKE, 1997 Attaching a writer from Friends or Seinfeld … and now it's attaching a writer who grew up watching Friends or Seinfeld.

    GREENBURG, '00 Who could buy this … and now it's, "Who will take care of this?"

    BELGRAD, '00 Getting a movie star to say yes; now it's finding IP.

    FALVEY, '03 You needed a "four-quadrant" idea … and now it's to make sure your project stands for something.

    LIN, '05 Landing a major movie star … and now it's landing a property with a built-in audience.

    FRANKLIN, '09 Cast … and now it's cost.

    JONNIE DAVIS, 2006 Making sure it was an idea that could go 100 episodes and make it to syndication … and now it just has to have a passionate, loyal audience and say something about the culture.

    CARTER, '09 Reaching syndication … and now it's reaching season two.

  • The biggest way the definition of success in this business has changed since I was on the list is …

    AUSTEN, '96 It hasn't at all. It's still talent relationships and money.

    NAEGLE, '98 People have stopped being obsessed with private planes. They're ridiculous and bad for the environment. That being said, if one happens to be going to New York, can I get a lift?

    FALVEY, '03 You can be successful without anyone having seen your show.

    CHERNISS, '04 Your sense of job security doesn't rise and fall with Nielsen overnight ratings.

    LIN, '05 It's now about managing franchises instead of individual movies or shows.

    MIKE JELLINE, 2006 A successful TV role used to mean a shot at a movie career. Now, it can create cultural icons who can have whatever career they want.

    LISA KATZ, 2007 A 2.5 rating is now a hit!

    GEORGE STROMPOLOS, 2008 Being a mogul just doesn't seem as cool anymore.

  • Back then, you could still get away with …

    HUVANE, '94 Eating carbs.

    POLONE, '94 Way, way too much.

    AUSTEN, '96 Selling a great idea; now it better be packaged with great talent or it's not going to sell.

    NAEGLE, '98 Telling filthy jokes in staff meetings.

    GREENBURG, '00 Getting ratings and box office for low-quality material.

    VANESSA MORRISON, 2000 Having a screen-free, unplugged evening.

    BELGRAD, '00 Making a movie that wasn't a sequel, remake or reboot but was just based on a good script and idea.

    ERWICH, '01 Having an office.

    DAVIS, '06 Drinking out of a plastic straw.

    JELLINE, '06 Having your assistant claim that you are completely unreachable.

    JACOBS, '10 Days off.

  • The biggest difference in how business is done today compared to my Next Gen year is …

    NAEGLE, '98 Less screaming and saying things like "I'm going to gut you like a fish" during a negotiation. It's much more cordial and much more boring.

    FALVEY, '03 I no longer have my assistant read my emails to me on the phone.

    LIN, '05 You run into most of Hollywood in the Netflix lobby instead of the CAA lobby.

    JELLINE, '06 Now, pilot season is a pit stop at a buffet table that's open 365 days a year.

    DARIN FRIEDMAN, 2009 Movie people do television, and emojis are acceptable.

    MICHAEL SUGAR, 2006 Being kind actually matters.

  • When I was on the list, I thought in 2018 I'd be …

    NINA JACOBSON, 1994 Younger looking than I am now.

    NAEGLE, '98 A working mom balancing a career and family and making it all look easy. I have the wonderful kids and job, but there's no point trying to make it look easy. It's impossible and great.

    GREENBURG, '00 Running a TV network.

    BRENT WEINSTEIN, 2007 Still have hair.

    STROMPOLOS, '08 Doing innovative work at the intersection of technology and entertainment. And riding a hoverboard.

    BILL MCGOLDRICK, 2009 Having an easier time telling creators their project isn't moving forward.

    MICHELLE LEE, 2013 Still producing (or living in a yoga ashram).

  • When I was on the list, everybody in town seemed to be terrified of …

    POLONE, '94 Me

    NAEGLE, '98 Gavin Polone and Ari Emanuel


    NICOLE CLEMENS, 2001 Mike Ovitz

    MINER, '01 A WGA strike


    LIN, '05 Scott Rudin, Joel Silver and Harvey Weinstein

    JELLINE, '06 Not having the most up-to-date BlackBerry

    LEONARD, '09 The internet. (Nothing's changed.)

    WISEMAN, '06 Straight-to-series orders

    MCGOLDRICK, '09 Two recently fired moguls whose names I'm still scared to reference in print.

    CARTER, '09 DVRs

    FRIEDMAN, '09 Nikki Finke

    RIEGG, '12 A 2.0 rating in the demo

  • I can't believe it took me so long to …

    BETH SWOFFORD, 1995 Realize I didn't have to try to be like everyone else.

    GARNER, '97 Start a podcast.

    KATZ, '07 Ask for what I deserve.

    MIKE FARAH, 2010 Take an improv class.

    RIEGG, '12 Become a cord-cutter.

    RAPAPORT, '13 Discover audiobooks on Audible.

  • What will Hollywood look like in 2043, 25 years from now?

    BURKE, 1997 Female.

    GARNER, 1997 Every piece of content will be able to be consumed from any device day and date.

    RICE, 1999 We won’t be talking about "firsts" that should have happened a long time ago.

    CLEMENS, 2001 Hopefully not AI making creative decisions. 

    MINER, 2001 A Tesla Original movie, probably called “Helicopter Grandparents,” will be streamed to your driverless car. 

    LIN, 2005 We’ll be having story meetings on Space X rockets while eating astronaut ice cream on our way to Mars.

    FRANKLIN, 2009 There will be no distinction between a TV and a computer screen.

    CARTER, 2009 Hollywood will be diasporic nation-wide with feature-film grade camera hardware and VFX software in consumers’ phones.

    FRIEDMAN, 2009 Experiences will be automatically uploaded to our brains but content will still be king.

    LEONARD, 2009 More inclusive — or else culturally irrelevant.

  • I thought that by now, X would have happened in Hollywood.

    HUVANE, 1994 Parity

    POLONE, 1994 A woman would be the Chairman and CEO of a major entertainment company.

    PARENT, 1997 There’d be less entitlement.

    NAEGLE, 1998 More female filmmakers and TV directors. 

    GREENBURG, 2000 Artists would start their own platforms and get back to truly owning their creations.

    FALVEY, 2003 More women would be running the major media companies.

    LIN, 2005 Day-and-date film release.

    JELLINE, 2006 Is this where I’m supposed to say something about VR? 

    FRANKLIN, 2009 There would be more people of color within the executive ranks.

    MCGOLDRICK, 2009 The overly risk-averse who never advocate for any project with a modicum of risk would be shamed, mocked and perpetually unemployed. 

    LEONARD, 2009 The widespread realization that diversity is good for the bottom line, from the boardroom to the assistant desk, in front of and behind the camera.

  • The thing I could never do without...

    HUVANE, '94 

    When I was on the list: My Rolodex

    Now: Sleep 

    POLONE, '94

    When I was on the list: My anger

    Now: Meditation


    When I was on the list: A fax machine

    Now: An iPhone

    PARENT, '97

    When I was on the list: Cigarettes

    Now: Coffee

    GREENBURG, '00

    When I was on the list: A house in an area with good cell service.

    Now: Good Wi-Fi on cross-country flights

    LIEBERMAN, '01

    When I was on the list: My car

    Now: My Uber

    ARGUELLES, '02

    When I was on the list: A Marlboro Light

    Now: Green tea

    WISEMAN, '06

    When I was on the list: My BlackBerry Bold, 900 Series

    Now: My iPhone

    WEINSTEIN, '07

    When I was on the list: My Blackberry

    Now: Slack


    When I was on the list: Sleeping late

    Now: My 5-year-old son who never lets me sleep late.

    PHIL SUN, 2013

    When I was on the list: The rice balls at Dominick's. 

    Now: An ice-cold martini at Rao's

    A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.