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Executives bankrolling the most popular and relevant film and TV, creators shifting perspectives, reps brokering every deal and talent making sure people pay attention… they’re all at the top of the game. That’s why they made THR’s definitive annual rundown of the most powerful women in the entertainment industry — which includes first-time honorees Taylor Swift, Quinta Brunson, Selena Gomez and Lizzo this year. Here, they reveal who they’d trade places with for a day, make their predictions for Hollywood in 2023 and reflect on bizarre first jobs in the industry. (Spoiler alert: ALF didn’t brush himself.)
In creating the 2022 list of entertainment’s top female players, editors considered portfolio sizes, series loads, TV ratings, box office returns, awards, deals, employees overseen, revenue and profit generated, subscriber counts and, let’s be honest, leadership. Written by J. Clara Chan, Kirsten Chuba, Ashley Cullins, Mia Galuppo, Carolyn Giardina, Lesley Goldberg, Rebecca Keegan, Borys Kit, Pamela McClintock, Mikey O’Connell, Sydney Odman, Lacey Rose and Rebecca Sun
Co-chair and co-CEO, Warner Bros. Film Group
Placed atop the film studio in May alongside Michael De Luca after their strong run at MGM, Abdy immediately began weighing in on Warners’ 2023 slate, which includes The Flash (a release already complicated by star Ezra Miller’s offscreen woes), Wonka, the next Aquaman, Barbie and The Color Purple. Her final MGM highlights include Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, a 2022 best picture nominee, and House of Gucci, finishing its box office run in February with $153 million in global sales.
Last great read “Stanley Tucci’s Taste: My Life Through Food.“
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “Waking up early, 5:30 a.m., and working out while blaring music.”
President of Production, Marvel Studios
Spanning physical and postproduction, visual effects and animation, Alonso’s purview reflects the complexities of marrying consistent box office juggernauts with a growing slate of series. She proved key in making sure that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk met tight deadlines in 2022 — not to mention fourth-quarter box office champ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
I’d trade places for a day with … “Lady Gaga. To be able to sing and play the piano like her would be the most rewarding moment. Costumes optional.”
I’d like to take a meeting with … “Lionel Messi”
Recently filming season three of The Morning Show, Aniston — who says she’s “knee deep in scripts right now” at her Echo Films shingle — is likely to be ubiquitous in 2023. Besides her Apple drama, she has the sequel to Netflix’s Murder Mystery with pal Adam Sandler.
I’d trade places for a day with … “Ryan Reynolds — he’s multitalented and dipped in fairy dust.”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Fried shrimp. (That was my first commercial).”
Hollywood’s most troubling trend is … “The bleedover of social media platforms into entertainment.”
The character I identify with “Mary Tyler Moore”
Head of Originals, HBO Max
HBO Max might not exist in its current iteration this time next year, with a merged service combining Discovery+ planned for 2023, but Aubrey hasn’t stalled in populating her streamer with complementary content to flagship brand HBO. She’s boosted DC offerings (see Peacemaker and upcoming Colin Farrell starrer Penguin) and is mining other Warner Bros. IP with projects like Dune: The Sisterhood. In August, Aubrey’s purview shifted to drama and international fare.
I’d trade places for a day with … “Andy Cohen”
I’d like to take a meeting with … “Nancy Pelosi, what a career of TCB — taking care of business!”
Co-president, FX Entertainment
Promoted again in October alongside Nick Grad, the 10-year FX veteran oversees scripted originals, development, casting, production and business affairs for both the network and its studio sibling. Balian delivered a hot streak of originals this year, including Fleishman Is in Trouble, The Old Man and The Bear and next has Retreat, the highly anticipated follow-up series from the creators of The OA, as well as Class of ’09 starring Atlanta grad Brian Tyree Henry and Kate Mara.
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “The ‘send later’ option on my email.”
Hollywood’s most troubling trend is … “The feeling that a strike is inevitable.”
Head of Global TV, Netflix
Overseeing an annual content spend of $17 billion alongside film counterpart Scott Stuber, the TV titan manages hundreds of executives in more than 20 territories. In 2022, she delivered some of the streaming giant’s biggest hits including Inventing Anna, season four of Stranger Things and Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story — which Ryan Murphy is turning into an anthological franchise. Under Bajaria, Netflix was recognized with 105 Emmy nominations, including 14 for Squid Game. Netflix’s most watched original of all time (1.65 billion hours and counting, per the streamer) became the first non-English-language series nominated in the drama category.
The character I identify with “Devi Vishwakumar in Never Have I Ever. She really captures the hilarious and heartwarming intersection of cultures.”
2023 will be the year that Hollywood finally … “Recognizes local-language shows with the industry’s highest honors.”
For her reprisal performance as Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Bassett is garnering serious Oscar buzz — a feat that would be a first for a Marvel film actor. No stranger to firsts, the star and EP of Fox’s 9-1-1 (who rakes in $450,000 per episode) is among the highest-paid performers in TV history.
Last great read “The Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry. I love the recipes in that book and read it daily for more things to try.”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Acting! I was extremely blessed to immediately start acting when I came to Hollywood and didn’t have to supplement income with a ‘day job.’” My first show was Spenser for Hire.
Industry slang I’m totally over “Authentic. Why must we be in a constant state of judging if something is completely genuine or real enough? What does that really mean?”
Frances Berwick, Susan Rovner
Chair, NBCUniversal Entertainment Networks; Chair of Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming
Finally securing next-day availability of Bravo originals on proprietary platform Peacock, Berwick continues to see her top cable brand flourish on air and off — as evidenced by the more than 30,000 people who attended New York’s BravoCon in October. Rovner, who delivered the fall’s highest-rated broadcast debut in NBC reboot Quantum Leap, is also banging the drum for Peacock originals with projects like upcoming Friday the 13th prequel series Crystal Lake.
I’d trade places for a day with …
Berwick: “Gabé Doppelt, maître d’ of Tower Bar and now San Vincente Bungalows.”
The character I identify with
Rovner: “Deenie by Judy Blume. I had scoliosis and had to wear a brace. That book really spoke to me.”
Berwick: “Liz Lemon”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed …
Rovner: “Driving around Los Angeles and delivering scripts. My first week I got two parking tickets and a moving violation that cost twice as much as my salary.”
Starting the year with an Oscar-nominated song for King Richard, the mononymous hit-maker delivered Renaissance in July. A dance album that’s amassed more than 1 billion streams on Spotify is perhaps more of a critical success than a commercial one, leading the upcoming Grammys with nine nominations. Beyoncé will add to her fortunes when she tours the album in 2023.
Yet again in the awards conversation, Blanchett is all but guaranteed her eighth Oscar nomination for her work in Tár. Todd Field’s acclaimed feature about an embattled composer also has many betting Blanchett will take her third win. Either way, she’ll next produce Christos Nikou’s Fingernails and appear in Alfonso Cuarón series Disclaimer and Eli Roth’s Borderlands.
President, TriStar Pictures
When Brown took the reins of the Sony specialty label in 2019, she made historical epic The Woman King top priority. Some three years later, after enlisting co-financier eOne, Brown shepherded the Viola Davis vehicle to a worldwide gross of over $94 million and major awards buzz. Elsewhere, TriStar will soon deliver its Whitney Houston biopic and the movie musical Matilda, which was produced with Netflix.
I’d trade places for a day with … “A composer. I so admire the art of building a score to match the emotion and thrill of a story.”
I’d like to take a meeting with … “Beyonce”
What more can be said about Brunson in 2022? The actress, comic and showrunner behind ABC’s Abbott Elementary, who took an Emmy in September for writing the sitcom’s pilot episode, is Hollywood’s “It” girl du jour. And while many are courting her for new work — she did sign a deal at Warner Bros. — “broadcast’s savior” says her priority is keeping her comedy relevant for its affectionate viewers.
The character I identify with “Larry David”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Lifting heavy black boxes full of clothing as an assistant to a now top-notch fashion editor, who I love.”
President, 20th Television
Burke guided 20th Television’s limited series streak with Emmy winner The Dropout, Dopesick and Welcome to Chippendales, wrapped up megahit This Is Us, and returned Only Murders in the Building for an acclaimed second season. With Alaska Daily, the Disney veteran also brought ABC its strongest drama series debut in two years, and continues to be a major supplier to outlets across the Disney portfolio and beyond.
Last great read “Know My Name by Chanel Miller.”
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “Buying two of almost everything, so I transport less from my home office to my office on the lot.”
President of Original Programming, Starz
The TriStar TV alum now oversees the Lionsgate-controlled premium cable network and its busy slate of originals, toplined in 2022 by Julia Roberts and Sean Penn limited series Gaslit, a third Power spinoff (Force) and the enduringly popular Outlander. The exec, who also serves as chair of BAFTA’s North American board, is bolstering Starz’s development slate with projects from the likes of Ava DuVernay, Sean “Diddy” Combs and more.
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “Exercise bike plus audio books.”
Industry slang I’m totally over “Move the needle.”
Co-President, Paramount Motion Picture Group
Under Cercek and Mike Ireland, Paramount’s 2022 lineup has been a parade of success with Top Gun: Maverick (the top global gross, year-to-date, with $1.47 billion), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ($402.7 million), microbudget horror Smile ($215.7 million) and Sandra Bullock rom-com The Lost City ($190.8 million). Cercek, said to be the Tom Cruise whisperer, runs point on the Mission: Impossible franchise, set to deliver two new titles in 2023 and 2024.
The character I identify with “Daria Morgendorffer — never felt more seen!”
Industry slang I’m totally over “The use of the word ‘content’ for all creative endeavors. No kid has ever said, ‘I want to make content when I grow up!'”
President, Paramount Television Studios and Paramount+ Original Scripted Series
With the dual role of overseeing a studio as well as originals for the streamer, the former agent and FX exec had a banner year for outside sales with HBO Max’s Station Eleven (which earned seven Emmy noms), Amazon’s Jack Reacher and global production Shantaram for Apple. 2023 brings Taika Waititi’s Time Bandits to Apple and The Spiderwick Chronicles to Disney+, as Paramount+ readies a serialized Fatal Attraction.
The character I identify with “Katharine Hepburn in any movie.”
Industry slang I’m totally over “Wheelhouse”
President, DreamWorks Animation
Leading DreamWorks since 2019, this year saw the release of Cohn’s first movies put into production. Thus far, it’s going well: The Bad Guys delivered over $250 million worldwide while Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is generating rave reviews ahead of its Dec. 21 opening. The pair reflect Cohn’s plan to make one original movie and one franchise play annually.
I’d like to take a meeting with … “Mindy Kaling — always funny, appears to be having fun, plus a new fabulous outfit every day.”
2023 will be the year that Hollywood finally … “Realizes that it’s OK to make a movie that is under two hours.”
President, Imax Entertainment and executive VP, Imax Corporation
Working closely with studios on tentpole release plans and with filmmakers interested in using Imax cameras (see Top Gun: Maverick helmer Joseph Kosinski and Nope‘s Jordan Peele), Colligan is also responsible for growing the company’s expansion into live, fan-driven events. Those include the multi-city premiere for Amazon’s The Rings of Power and a preview of Andor attached to a rerelease of Rogue One.
Last great read “Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert — read it twice in a row.”
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “Wearing the clothes to the office that I will eventually work out in at the end of the day.”
In 2022, the versatile Oscar winner scored her third nomination (for The Lost Daughter) and may see a fourth for Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light. But Colman, of Fleabag and Peep Show fame, has not turned her back on TV. She made an appearance on Netflix series Heartstopper and next makes her Marvel debut in the Disney+ entry Secret Invasion alongside Samuel L. Jackson.
Maha Dakhil, Toni Howard, Ida Ziniti
Dakhil and Ziniti continue to ink marquee deals for their all-star film rosters, with the former’s clients topping the box office (Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Woman King) and the latter setting Margot Robbie at another franchise with an Ocean’s Eleven prequel. Howard, who formally joined with June’s completion of the ICM acquisition, brought over A-listers Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Laura Linney.
I’d trade places for a day with …
Dakhil: “An entire greenlight committee.”
Last great read
Ziniti: “Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died.”
Industry slang I’m totally over
President, Disney Branded TV
For the past year, the two-decade Disney vet has held one of the company’s most important jobs: safeguarding and growing its branded content. That includes programming for scripted, unscripted and animation across pivotal, kid-friendly platforms like Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior and, most importantly, Disney+. The streamer, which hit 164 million global subscribers in November, continues to beef up programming as the ad-supported tier launches Dec. 8.
I’d trade places for a day with … “Ruth E. Carter, the esteemed costume designer of incredible films including Black Panther.”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Working with two iconic titans of the industry — Quincy Jones and David Salzman — on The Jenny Jones Show.”
Tonia Davis, Michelle Obama
Co-heads, Higher Ground
With sweeping deals at both Netflix and Audible, the production outfit — led by Davis and the former first lady — released nature doc Our Great National Parks, which earned an Emmy for narrator Mr. Obama, along with comedy-doc series The G Word With Adam Conover this year. Looking ahead, Higher Ground is readying its first scripted drama, Bodkin, starring Will Forte.
2023 will be the year that Hollywood finally …
Davis: “Focuses on equality, not inclusion.”
Industry slang I’m totally over
Sure, she released a best-selling memoir (Finding Me), starred in and produced The Woman King and played Michelle Obama in Showtime’s The First Lady — but Davis’ most striking 2022 accomplishment is perhaps the sum of her groundbreaking career. Rather than shape to fit Hollywood’s narrow norms, the Oscar, Emmy and Tony winner has expanded industry options by championing projects like The Woman King through her Juvee Productions and speaking openly about once-taboo topics like mental health and colorism.
President, Freeform and Onyx Collective
With Single Drunk Female and Cruel Summer ranking as Freeform’s two most watched originals, Duncan is seeing growth at upstart Onyx. There, Kerry Washington-produced Reasonable Doubt and unscripted entry The Hair Tales recently joined Hulu, and Summer of Soul became the studio’s first Oscar winner — helping Duncan to recruit Ryan Coogler and Prentice Penny for overall deals.
Last great read “No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood.”
I’d like to take a meeting with … “The Daniels and Bad Bunny.”
Chair, Warner Bros. TV Group
Deftly navigating the ongoing aftershocks of the Discovery acquisition, Dungey’s sprawling TV studio delivered a broadcast breakout in ABC’s Abbott Elementary and signed creator and star Quinta Brunson to an overall deal. (Another Warner Bros. show, Ted Lasso, took its second Emmy for top comedy.) Though hers is an increasingly rare studio to have business around town, Dungey is naturally focused on supplying hits (see: DC’s Peacemaker and Pretty Little Liars spinoff Original Sin) to HBO Max. Next up: Damon Lindelof’s hotly anticipated Mrs. Davis for Peacock and Harrison Ford vehicle Shrinking at Apple TV+.
Last great read “Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro. It’s a short read, but absolutely beautifully constructed and I can’t stop thinking about it.”
Industry slang I’m totally over “Unicorn. It’s become totally overused as a descriptor.”
Filmmaker; Founder, Array
DuVernay’s abundant output has never stopped her from being hands-on. December saw her write and direct the series finale of her landmark OWN drama Queen Sugar, the same year she delivered limited series DMZ and One Perfect Shot to HBO Max. Next year, she’s expected to start production on an adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents for Netflix.
The president of Gloria Sanchez Productions (Hustlers, Booksmart) saw her comedy-forward shingle, which has deals with Netflix and 20th Century Studios, release a celebrated final season of Dead to Me and Apple’s big holiday swing Spirited in the tail end of 2022, the latter starring her producing partner Will Ferrell. Up next: Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore two-hander May December.
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “A baby that wakes me up at 5 a.m. every day.”
I’d trade places for a day with … “Lil Nas X”
Executive VP Talent and Content Development, CNN Worldwide
Change seems to come to CNN on the hour, but thus far it has largely emboldened the CNN Films trailblazer. Entelis, who delivered Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy and The Murdochs: Empire of Influence and briefly served as interim leadership of the news giant between the Jeff Zucker and Chris Licht regimes, is now tasked with upping in-house originals since Licht eighty-sixed outside productions in a cost-cutting measure.
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Staking out a Jimmy Hoffa tip in a Cincinnati parking lot, probably in heels, for ABC News.”
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “Post pandemic, I’ve found that commuting a few minutes outside of rush hour saves many hours a week.”
Chair, Warner Bros. Discovery U.S. Networks Group
As her company continues to find its footing post-merger, the Scripps alum is guiding scripted and unscripted content in TV’s biggest linear portfolio — which includes lining up more than 4,000 hours of original content for nearly 30 channels — and figuring out how to meld live sports fans into the fold with those loyal to brands like HGTV, OWN and Food Network.
Industry slang I’m totally over “Authenticity”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Talking a fishmonger into giving me a stale, 15-pound fish to use as a prop in a cable access comedy show with Whoopi Goldberg — before Whoopi was famous. The fish subbed for a bowling ball in a sports sketch. It left a disgusting mess, which I also got to clean up. Good times.”
Elaine Frontain Bryant, Amy Winter
Exec VP and Head of Programming, A&E; Exec VP and Head of Programming, Lifetime
Under Frontain Bryant, A&E is revisiting live programming with Court Night Live and courting new viewers by adding event series Origins of Hip-Hop and an additional 130 annual hours of WWE programming. Over at the Lifetime networks, Winter boasts the year’s biggest TV doc in Janet Jackson (21 million viewers across platforms) and basic cable film in Flowers in the Attic: The Origin (10 million viewers).
Last great read
Winter: “The Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas.”
I’d like to take a meeting with …
Frontain Bryant: “Trevor Noah. I read his book and loved it, as did my teen daughter. I can’t wait to see his tour, as I think he brings a really unique perspective on our times.”
Founder, Story Syndicate
Garbus’ production company, which she runs with husband Dan Cogan, continues to churn out buzzy docs at a wild clip — most notably Harry & Meghan, the series Garbus directed about the royal couple, drops on Netflix on Dec. 8. Her skills as a helmer also have her doing more scripted, directing Apple TV+’s forthcoming City on Fire and some season two episodes of Showtime’s Yellowjackets.
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Getting to observe John Leguizamo create his character Vida in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar, through improv and experimentation. I was the director’s assistant, so I also got to see Robin Williams working on set for a cameo as John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt; his comic genius on full display. Seeing these actors at the height of their powers create these characters was a mind-blowing experience and gave me the bug to be part of that process.”
Partner, Plan B Entertainment
Features with a female point of view were front and center for the prestige production company, whose film output includes three projects in the awards conversation: Women Talking (out Dec. 23), She Said and Blonde — Netflix’s eyebrow-raising biopic of Marilyn Monroe. In TV, the company was behind Freevee coming-of-age comedy High School and Amazon’s sci-fi Western Outer Range.
CCO, Skydance Media
Delivering Top Gun: Maverick alongside Paramount tops Skydance’s 2022 offerings, but the company eagerly swings between theatrical and streaming — also releasing The Adam Project at Netflix and Luck at Apple. On deck is more of Amazon breakout series Reacher, animation (Spellbound), star-driven movies (The Old Guard 2), and, yes, Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible 7).
2023 will be the year that Hollywood finally … “Has Oscar nominees from popular movies that the public loves.”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Making sure that the set on a children’s show was ‘kid friendly’ before a class visited on a field trip.”
Kira Goldberg, Lisa Nishimura, Karen Toliver
VP Studio Film; VP Independent and Documentary Film; VP Animated Film, Netflix
This trio is responsible for Netflix’s feature film slate, from animation to docs to narrative features. Toliver joined this year from Sony Pictures Animation, while Goldberg was upped to her post after leading efforts on the streamer’s big-budget films like Don’t Look Up. Nishimura, Netflix’s doyenne of docs and indie film who stands as one of the most tenured execs at the streamer, oversees a dizzying slate that includes this year’s breakouts The Tinder Swindler and The Good Nurse.
Last great read
Nishimura: “I’m late to it, but finally dove into Mark Harris’ Mike Nichols: A Life.”
I’d trade places for a day with …
Goldberg “Lin-Manuel Miranda”
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life
Toliver: “Walking 3 miles a day. When I can squeeze it in, it’s my meditation.”
Actor, Producer, Singer
Nabbing a first Emmy nomination for her producing work on Hulu mystery-comedy Only Murders in the Building, Gomez also delivered a fourth season of cooking show Selena + Chef at HBO Max and dropped hotly anticipated doc My Mind & Me at Apple in the back half of the year. And there’s a steady drumbeat of viral singles for the singer, but that goes without saying.
Last great read “Untamed by Glennon Doyle.”
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “Taking a cold shower after a hot one.”
Executive VP Programming and Head of Comedy, HBO
The HBO veteran added Max’s comedy output to her plate in 2022, joining an impressive slate that includes returning hits Barry, A Black Lady Sketch Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm and new entries such as Nathan Fielder’s The Rehearsal and Bridget Everett’s Somebody Somewhere. Next up is The Franchise from Armando Iannucci and Sam Mendes.
Last great read “I devoured Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro.”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Access to a golf cart on the Warner Bros. lot.”
Chair, Universal Studio Group
As chief of NBCUniversal’s TV studios — which include Universal Television, Universal Content Productions, Universal Television Alternative and International Studios — Igbokwe oversees more than 120 projects across the globe. USG’s 3,000 hours of programming include favorites like The Umbrella Academy and Never Have I Ever and boast an impressive roster of storytellers such as Jordan Peele, Tina Fey and Michael Schur.
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “Removing my own image from the Teams screen. Staring at yourself all day during meetings is not healthy.”
Industry slang I’m totally over “Content. I’m guilty of using it, but it makes what we do sound so generic.”
Amy Israel, Jana Winograde
Exec VP Scripted Programming; President, Showtime
The women leading programming at Showtime got a shot in the arm in July, when breakout Yellowjackets scored seven Emmy nominations — including one for best drama. The sophomore season arrives on the network in 2023 alongside another round of Bryan Cranston starrer Your Honor — as the brand’s originals now also live on sister steamer Paramount+. Combined with Showtime, the platforms have more than 63 million subscribers.
Last great read
Winograde: “Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery, by Catherine Gildiner, weaves an incredible narrative around five of her most heroic and memorable patients. If you, like me, love dark, novelized nonfiction, this book is an engrossing tale of the human spirit’s resiliency and capacity for healing.”
The character I identify with
Israel: “Jane Craig, played by Holly Hunter, in Broadcast News. She’s a passionate workhorse, even though she’s the size of a Shetland pony.”
Actor, Producer, Writer
Ask any woman in entertainment who most impresses her right now, and odds are a solid contingent will say, “Mindy Kaling.” The actress’ shift from performer-writer to writer-performer, with series Never Have I Ever (Netflix) and The Sex Lives of College Girls (HBO Max), has cemented her as one of the most sought-after voices in Hollywood. The Warner Bros.-based multihyphenate next tackles animation with Velma.
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “50:10 ratio: 50 minutes of writing, 10 minutes of internet.”
The character I identify with “When I’m on script I most identify with the Mandalorian. I wear the same thing every day, I look after a toddler, and no one is allowed to see my face.”
Last great read “The Vibrant Years by Sonali Dev. It has so much humor and heart, such a great read around the holidays.”
Founder and CEO, Blue Marble
The agent turned manager touts an A-list roster (Alfonso Cuarón, Lena Waithe, Prentice Penny) and a lucrative producing deal at Apple. There, her first big swing, Pachinko, garnered stellar reviews and a second season. Among the many projects in development is Pachinko showrunner Soo Hugh’s follow-up, The White Darkness, starring Tom Hiddleston.
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “My 49-inch computer monitor, the key to multitasking.”
Reluctant to give up reality TV despite her numerous ventures (see her Skims clothing brand and SKKN by Kim skin-care line), Kardashian and her family reimagined their docuseries format at Hulu with The Kardashians. Its April premiere broke audience records at the streamer. She also recently moved into podcasts with Spotify legal show Kim Kardashian’s The System: The Case of Kevin Keith.
President , Lucasfilm
With features momentarily dormant, Lucasfilm’s TV outfit picked up the slack with The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor and Willow. Obi-Wan notched Disney+’s most watched opening weekend, while Andor scored with critics. Kennedy and George Lucas this year received the PGA’s Milestone Award, as she continues to work as a co-founder of the Hollywood Commission to eliminate sexual harassment and advance equality in the entertainment industry.
Founder & CEO, Lighthouse Management + Media
Client Kathryn Hahn had a particularly good year between Glass Onion, wrapping Hulu’s Tiny Beautiful Things and starting Disney+ Marvel series Agatha: Coven of Chaos. Selena Gomez signed on for more Only Murders in the Building and Olivia Rodrigo is working on the follow-up to her Grammy-winning debut album and most recently wrapped a 48-show North American tour.
I’d trade places for a day with … “Someone who isn’t scared of driving on the freeway.”
Samantha Kirby Yoh, Blair Kohan
Kohan recently signed Gisele Bündchen and Nick Kroll — who landed an overall at FX. Meanwhile, Paul Rudd soon returns to another major franchise with a Ghostbusters sequel. Kirby Yoh co-leads the music division, where she’s repping an all-star lineup (Rosalía, FKA Twigs, St. Vincent) while working to increase the number of women in the industry through the nonprofit She Is the Music.
Last great read
Kirby Yoh: “Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.”
Kohan: “Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel.”
Deborah Klein, Tara Kole, Nina Shaw
Klein’s ever-prolific client Samuel L. Jackson continues his Marvel run with Secret Invasion and The Marvels, as does Paul Rudd with more Ant-Man and Avengers, and outside of the MCU Will Ferrell’s Christmas musical with Ryan Reynolds, Spirited, recently premiered on Apple TV+. Kole, who launched a new firm this year, saw client David Leitch snap up a $50 million package deal with Channing Tatum and Simon Kinberg for spy thriller Red Shirt, while Riz Ahmed added Oscar-winner to his resume for Long Goodbye. Shaw clients Quinta Brunson (Abbott Elementary) and Sterlin Harjo (Reservation Dogs) landed overalls and a host of others are teaming up for Genius: MLK/X including executive producers Gina Prince Bythewood and Reggie Bythewood, showrunner-EPs Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macedon, and star Kelvin Harrison Jr.
I’d trade places for a day with …
Shaw: “[Production designer] Hannah Beachler. She gets to create whole worlds.”
The character I identify with
Kole: “Diane Lockhart”
Veronika Kwan Vandenberg
President of Distribution, Universal Pictures International
Since arriving at Universal in 2020, Kwan Vandenberg has navigated the murky waters of international releases while ranking as Hollywood’s sole female distribution exec on a green-light committee. Jurassic World: Dominion tops her 2022 laurels, but Ticket to Paradise clearing $96 million abroad was no small feat. As Universal handles MGM titles overseas, Bond pic No Time to Die collected a massive $613 million-plus in other territories — spanking its domestic gross of $160 million.
I’d like to take a meeting with … “Christiane Amanpour”
Last great read “The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge by Jeremy Narby.”
Chair, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group
Langley’s film empire will release 27 movies theatrically by 2022’s end, more than double the total of any rival. That massive slate has it ranking No. 1 in box office market share for the year, thanks in large part to boasting two of the top-grossing global titles: Jurassic World: Dominion ($1 billion) and Minions: The Rise of Gru ($929.3 million). The seasoned studio head is often credited with building a varied slate that isn’t populated only with known IP; she’s also successfully swept up an all-star group of filmmakers, from Jordan Peele to Everybody Everywhere All at Once directing duo the Daniels, with whom she recently inked a five-year deal.
Industry slang I’m totally over “Unprecedented times.”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “A handwritten Rolodex.”
Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney Animation Studios
D23 brought news that Oscar-winning Lee and her fellow Frozen director Chris Buck are writing Wish, a feature with a voice cast led by Ariana DeBose. As a chief creative, she oversees the studio’s day-to-day, starting her year on a high with an Oscar win for Encanto and wrapping on a low with poor box office for Strange World.
Vice Chair, CJ Group
Three years after CJ’s Parasite made history at the Oscars, the South Korean conglomerate is back for another awards season with Park Chan-wook’s modern noir Decision to Leave. As head of the company’s vast entertainment holdings, Lee has been instrumental in parlaying not just CJ but Korea’s entertainment industry into a global power player. In January, the company closed its $785 million acquisition of Endeavor Content (now Fifth Season).
I’d trade places for a day with … “Michelle Yeoh. She is having a great year and I would have loved to be in Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Last great read “My go-to book is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.”
A No. 1 single? Check. A seemingly unending arena tour? Check. An Emmy for her first TV show? Oh yeah, that too. The singer, social media star and producer proved her career prospects are bigger than many could have expected when Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls won outstanding competition series for Amazon. She wraps an impressive year with a concert special on HBO Max (out Dec. 31), where she recently dropped the doc Love, Lizzo.
The character I identify with “Baby Yoda (‘Grogu’)”
I’d like to take a meeting with … “My therapist.”
Actor, Director, Producer
One of the most prolific producers of Latino-centered content in the industry, Longoria’s UnbeliEVAble Entertainment (which has an overall at 20th Television) is readying Apple TV+’s Land of Women — in which she will also star. There’s also the delayed Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico at CNN as well as Hot Cheetos inventor biopic Flamin’ Hot, her directorial follow-up to documentary La Guerra Civil, which debuted at Sundance in January.
The character I identify with “Hasn’t been written yet.”
Industry slang I’m totally over “Diversity. I feel like studios say this to pacify communities of color but don’t actually do the steps to diversify content or creators.”
I’d trade places for a day with … “George Clooney”
Actor, Producer, Singer
With an upcoming album (This Is Me … Now) and an action rom-com (Shotgun Wedding) toplining her 2023 efforts, the Halftime documentary star is also on a producing spree. She’s got Reed Morano’s The Godmother — not to be confused with Niki Caro’s The Mother, which she’s also making — as well as Brad Peyton’s Atlas. (Oh, and she stars in all three.)
President and CEO, Hallmark Media
Lucas spent much of the past year working to get Hallmark content onto bigger platforms with a first-of-its-kind SVOD deal at Peacock and a live channel on Hulu. With increasing competition for holiday programming and her top stars, Lucas locked up many of the brand’s most coveted talent (Lacey Chabert, Heather Hemmens and Brennan Elliott among them) with multiple-movie overall deals.
Kristie Macosko Krieger
When Steven Spielberg sets an impossible task — fill a New York City street with dozens of dancing actors in last year’s West Side Story or painstakingly re-create his childhood on an intimate set for The Fabelmans — Macosko Krieger is the producer he trusts with the job. Working for the director since the ’90s, she’s earned three best picture nominations, with an expected fourth on the way.
President, Orion Pictures
Helming the relaunched MGM division with a mandate to amplify historically excluded voices, the veteran executive’s slate has two films in the awards conversation: Chinonye Chukwu’s Till and Sarah Polley’s Women Talking. Orion also produced Billy Porter’s directorial debut, Anything’s Possible, which dropped on Amazon in July, and optioned Michelle Zauner’s juggernaut memoir Crying in H Mart.
Last great read “Jazz by Toni Morrison. Too belatedly.”
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “Twenty-minute breaks from phone and email every hour or two to simply sit in silence and think.”
Co-CEO, Bad Robot
While Bad Robot’s $250 million overall deal with Warner Bros. Discovery has been less than fruitful, there is no denying the company’s (and McGrath’s) incalculable sway with the industry. Next up, the company has back-to-back Mission: Impossible films and another Cloverfield movie. McGrath, a longtime supporter of women’s movements in Hollywood, continues her work as a trustee on the boards of ProPublica and Array Alliance.
Last great read “Properties of Thirst by Marianne Wiggins — a gorgeous, heartbreaking feast of a novel.”
President, National Geographic Content
With Disney muscle behind her, Monroe’s shepherding of the Nat Geo brand has brought numerous Emmys and even an Oscar — but it’s the talent partnerships that make her label, now a major supplier to Disney+, such a compelling sell. In 2022, Nat Geo delivered projects with Michael B. Jordan, first lady Jill Biden, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Favreau and Ron Howard.
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Marketing the first season of The Sopranos on HBO.”
Last great read “When Women Lead by Julia Boorstin.”
President of Animation, Paramount and Nickelodeon
Supplying her company’s linear and streaming pipeline with family fare, Naito recently launched Nickelodeon series Monster High and Transformers: EarthSpark. Her feature lineup includes two marquee entries on deck in the coming year with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem and Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie.
I’d like to take a meeting with … “Miky Lee, a curator and cultural icon who embraces art.”
The character I identify with “Roseanne Roseannadanna”
The lauded Doc McStuffins creator remains the most vital (and commercial) voice in young children’s programming. Under her overall deal with Netflix, she’s proving prolific as well. She launched the series Ridley Jones and Ada Twist, Scientist in 2021 — quickly winning an Annie Award for best preschool TV/media — followed by series Spirit Rangers in 2022.
President of Film and TV, Hello Sunshine
The only person whose literary instincts Reese Witherspoon trusts as much as her own, Hello Sunshine’s top creative is on an incredible streak with adaptations. Following Where the Crawdads Sing‘s summer haul, Neustadter tests her streaming feature prowess with rom-com Something From Tiffany’s at Amazon (Dec. 9) before hotly anticipated series spins on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six (Amazon) and Laura Dave’s The Last Thing He Told Me (Apple) arrive in 2023.
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Prepping notecards for Dr. Phil.”
Last great read “Curtis Sittenfeld’s upcoming novel Romantic Comedy. I’m smiling just thinking about it.”
Head of MTV Documentary Films
The grande dame of docs, whose taste and reputation for mentorship remain unparalleled, is also single-handedly giving MTV industry cred. In charge of its flourishing doc division, she recently populated the greater Paramount universe with an array of originals including Angola Do You Hear Us? Voices From a Plantation Prison, Art & Krimes by Krimes and timely Russian activist doc Anastasia.
CEO, Anonymous Content
Anonymous has a hand in a diverse slate of film and TV productions — notably Zoe Kazan’s upcoming East of Eden adaptation and a three-picture deal with bankable author Nicholas Sparks at Universal — but it’s Olmstead’s leveraging of the management company’s unique place in the market that stands out in 2022. She’s in negotiations to acquire Grandview, which would make Anonymous a giant among indie labels.
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Working with newcomers Chris Farley, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.”
2023 will be the year that Hollywood finally … “Becomes truly international-focused.”
Exec VP, HBO Programming; Head of HBO Drama Series and Films
Inking a new contract through 2027, Orsi saw her roster break HBO viewership records — an average 29 million watched season one of Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon — and earn 21 of the platform’s 38 Emmy wins. Orsi, who also oversees watercooler favorites Succession, Euphoria and The White Lotus, adds The Last of Us, White House Plumbers and a Jodie Foster-led True Detective reprise in 2023.
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “Purchasing Nathan Fielder’s laptop harness that he sports in The Rehearsal. I can read and watch cuts while walking.”
Hollywood’s most troubling trend is … “VFX demands and a shortage of VFX artists.”
Chief Content and Advertising Business Officer, Spotify
In 2022, the audio giant’s podcast division released highly anticipated shows from David S. Goyer, Meghan Markle and Kim Kardashian — while continuing to reap the benefits of top-performing exclusive podcasts like Alex Cooper’s Call Her Daddy and The Joe Rogan Experience. Spotify recently disclosed it brought in roughly $215 million in podcast revenue last year, wooing star creators into the fold as it parts ways with others — like the Obamas.
Last great read “Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World”
The Australian behind the shingle Made Up Stories may have her hands on more projects than any other power producer in Peak TV. This year alone, Papandrea had Pieces of Her, Anatomy of a Scandal and feature Luckiest Girl Alive at Netflix, Roar at Apple and Wolf Like Me at Peacock.
Last great read “Lifespan by David Sinclair.”
I’d trade places for a day with … “Taylor Swift”
Vice Chair, Worldwide Production, Legendary
Days after she received the PGA’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award in March, passion project Dune picked up six Oscars at the 2022 ceremony — the most of any film. It’s a point of pride for Parent, who shepherded production of the $165 million sci-fi epic and quickly moved on a sequel. Denis Villeneuve has been shooting that since June, while November brought news that Legendary has a new output deal with Sony.
I’d trade places for a day with … “A stuntperson. They are real-life superheroes and I have an immense respect for their craft.”
Hollywood’s most troubling trend is … “While there are no doubt challenges industry-wide, fear can often be a creativity killer.”
Canadian writer-director Polley had three kids under 8 when producers Frances McDormand and Dede Gardner approached her to adapt the 2018 novel Women Talking. Polley loved the project but wanted to remain an engaged parent, so they constructed a family-friendly production schedule. The result might be one of the most radical things to come out of Hollywood this year: an Oscar-contending movie that got its crew home for dinner.
President, Sony Pictures Television Studios
After producing Emmy winner The Dropout with longtime collaborator Liz Meriwether in the spring, Pope moved from overseeing Spectrum Originals to Sony. There, she oversees the studio’s scripted TV output. She previously developed and produced shows including Showtime prestige miniseries George & Tammy, starring Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon. Among her first Sony sales was Vince Gilligan’s next series, which heads to Apple after an intense bidding war.
Last great read “The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen — a beautiful, heart-breaking memoir about a girl who wants to live a life larger than her gender and class allow and how she is systematically broken down for that hubris. Yet still, she persists.”
I’d like to take a meeting with … “It’s got to be Bob Iger, doesn’t it?! What a twist, and what a challenge. Wouldn’t bet against him.”
Rhonda Price and Leslie Siebert
Together, Price and Siebert rep Brendan Fraser, whose comeback tale with Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale has him an Oscar favorite. Angela Bassett, another Siebert client, earned raves for Wakanda Forever, while Price also has Yellowjackets‘ Melanie Lynskey, Elizabeth Olsen and Hunger Games prequel star Tom Blyth.
Industry slang I’m totally over
Price: “‘Dig in’ or ‘lean in.'”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed …
Siebert: “Trying to be noticed and to become an agent at Gersh. Someone noticed.”
There’s a short list of directors who can handle the sprawling action of Netflix breakout The Old Guard and the intimacy of a cult romance like Love & Basketball. With The Woman King, the historical epic about female warriors, Prince-Bythewood relied on both skill sets to expand the scope of Black female characters on the big screen. She and her husband, producer-director Reggie Rock Bythewood, also have a first-look TV deal at Touchstone.
Industry slang I’m totally over “Kill your darlings.”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Writing on my favorite show A Different World, which was run by Black women. It made it my normal.”
Now one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses, Pugh spent the past half-decade moving from indie upstart (Lady Macbeth, Midsommar) to franchise frontwoman (Marvel’s The Thunderbolts and Dune: Part Two are both on deck). Already an Oscar nominee with Little Women, Pugh this year led her first major-studio starring vehicle with Don’t Worry Darling, navigating the subsequent assailing press cycle with assurance and an aperol spritz in a steady hand.
After her longtime gig Insecure came to an end last year, Issa Rae didn’t miss a beat in launching the next phase of her career. With a five-year overall deal with WarnerMedia, Rae, via her Hoorae production company, created and executive produced HBO Max comedy Rap Sh!t and is developing a revival of docuseries Project Greenlight. Rae landed her third Emmy nom for best actress in a comedy this year, and her onscreen career continues to flourish, with roles in B.J. Novak’s Vengeance, an upcoming appearance in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and a voice performance as Spider-Woman in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
As the Equity in Entertainment honoree, what do you think entertainment equity looks like, and has it evolved during your career?
I think it means a level playing field and opportunity for all. “Representation” has been a buzzword that’s been used several, several times, and the industry has thought to give people opportunities, but not necessarily put that into action. It’s been a talking point with nothing to be done until, I felt like, 2020 lit a fire under people’s asses; it’s just been more telling to see who’s continuing to talk that talk and who’s walking it back.
Read the rest of the interview here.
Chair, Paramount Global
Rebranding her company once again in early 2022, the unified Paramount Global is still streamlining — like so many other merged entertainment entities — but Wall Street is recently bullish on its future. Accelerated streaming subscriber growth in a climate of middling gains and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway becoming a shareholder have stock prices at Redstone’s media empire rebounding from fall lows.
Industry slang I’m totally over “Arms dealer, with respect to selling content.”
Still can’t believe my first Hollywood job entailed … “Filing and making coffee for the creative team working on Love, American Style and Mannix at Paramount, years before my father ever started thinking about acquiring the studio.”
President, CBS Entertainment
Capping off a year of many changes at Paramount Global, November brought news that CBS Entertainment’s longtime current programming executive would ascend to its top post. Reisenbach now runs the most watched TV network in America — and that, lest you forget, is huge. Even as linear ratings slip, CBS drew an average 6.4 million viewers to primetime during the 2021-22 season. Numbers like that are what’s driving streamers into ad-supported offerings.
I’d trade places for a day with … “Showrunner of the Puppy Bowl.”
The character I identify with “C.J. Cregg on The West Wing.”
Few find success in all corners of TV as easily as Rhimes. The bankable creator has one of the longest-running (19 seasons) and most watched (8.5 million weekly viewers across platforms) broadcast series in ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy. And, after five years at Netflix, she’s also turning out streaming hits at a quicker clip. Limited series Inventing Anna (655 million hours viewed) and the second season of Bridgerton (775 million hours viewed) will finish the year among Netflix’s most watched series. The producer has become one of the most recognizable TV writers in history — what other showrunner would be asked to present on the Emmy stage? But she’s not stopping there. Her 2021 Netflix pact has her adding feature films to her growing slate.
Last great read “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.”
Musically dormant no more, the recording artist is likely to get an Oscar nom for return track “Born Again” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. After churning out another Fenty fashion show special at Amazon, Rihanna’s next stage appearance will be with a mic: She’s headlining the 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show.
In between fronting auteur fare (see Damien Chazelle’s Babylon and David O. Russell’s Amsterdam), Robbie’s work as a producer remains top-notch. Her LuckyChap Entertainment shingle next delivers Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman follow-up (Saltburn) and Megan Park’s My Old Ass. The banner will also release a star vehicle for Robbie when the long-gestating live-action Barbie drops in July.
I’d like to take a meeting with … “Paul Thomas Anderson”
2023 will be the year that Hollywood finally … “Gives you a movie about a toy you’re really excited to see.”
Exec VP Programming, HBO
With an eye on specials, late night and unscripted, Rosenstein scored a stand-up coup in April with Jerrod Carmichael’s critically acclaimed Emmy winner Rothaniel — her comedy highlight in a year that also included efforts from Nikki Glaser, Lil Rel Howery and Atsuko Okatsuka. On the subject of Emmys, her flagship, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, took its seventh consecutive win for outstanding variety talk show.
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “I wear different versions of the same ‘work uniform’ every day and it’s truly liberating!”
Last great read “Now is Not the Time to Panic — I’m always first in line to read Kevin Wilson’s latest!”
Before lighting up screens with a CGI-rendered performance in inevitable blockbuster Avatar: The Way of Water, Saldaña had a year full of producing wins for her Cinestar shingle. HBO Max may have canceled Gordita Chronicles, but the series wooed critics and inspired further debate about Hollywood’s mishandling of Latino representation. Follow-up From Scratch, in which she also starred, premiered atop Netflix streaming charts in October.
Last great read “Octavia E. Butler’s Wild Seed.“
I’d like to take a meeting with “Steven Spielberg”
Head of Amazon and MGM Studios
Amazon’s top programmer continues to consolidate power, adding studio MGM (an $8.5 billion acquisition) to a portfolio that also boasts premium streaming and AVOD in 2022. Under Salke, Amazon took home an Emmy for Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls and launched pricey swing The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which the company says attracted more than 25 million global subscribers the day of its release.
Chair, Berlanti Schechter Films
Leading her shingle’s film charge, Schechter recently saw Harry Styles vehicle My Policeman move the dial for Amazon — where a forthcoming Red, White & Royal Blue adaptation will soon land. On TV, longtime buyer The CW is changing course under new ownership, but the company has already been increasing output elsewhere with Dead Boy Detectives and The Girls on the Bus for HBO Max.
Industry slang I’m totally over “‘I don’t disagree.’ Just own your POV, and say you agree. Or be honest, if you don’t, and own that. But enough of this Orwellian doublespeak!”
Hollywood’s most troubling trend is … “I don’t know if there are any true metrics for what success looks like and how to measure it.”
Sarah Self, Cori Wellins
Several of Self’s film clients are teaming up (see: John Krasinski and Ryan Reynolds in If, Emma Stone and the Safdie brothers on The Curse), but seeing Damien Chazelle’s passion project Babylon to completion toplines 2022. In TV, Wellins saw creator clients launch series on all major streamers — notably Liz Meriwether (The Dropout) and Amy Schumer (Life & Beth) at Hulu.
The character I identify with
Self: “Shirley Jackson’s work.”
Last great read
Wellins: “John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies.”
The Spirited star has a busy development slate under her Orit Entertainment banner. In addition to delivering a third season of Apple hit Truth Be Told in January 2023, Spencer’s operation has a new deal for true-crime content with Warner Bros. Discovery. She’s got projects in the works with Krista Vernoff and Kerry Washington — and, on Dec. 8, the Oscar winner gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I’d like to take a meeting with … “The top students from AFI and Sundance Institute.”
I’d trade places for a day with … “Shonda Rhimes and Taylor Sheridan — because, as showrunner, I’d already know what was happening on my favorite shows.”
Vice Chair, Lionsgate TV Group
A consummate dealmaker, Stern has guided Lionsgate’s TV Group to revenue growth nearly every year of her 18-year tenure. This year, that number will exceed $1 billion. Her group boasts a record 14 new shows picked up to series and 15 current efforts renewed for additional seasons, including CBS hit sitcom Ghosts.
Last great read “I reread James Joyce’s Ulysses. Wow!”
Industry slang I’m totally over “Disruption. Change is a constant. We should stop talking about it and just do it.”
Did she do much this year? Aside from the tail end of promotions for Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up, no. Is she still Meryl Streep? Hell yes. The world’s most renowned actress remains the pinnacle of Hollywood power, something she’ll share with Apple in a rare TV foray: anthology Extrapolations in 2023.
Actor, Filmmaker and Musician
2022 may go down as the year that the megawatt singer-songwriter officially went Hollywood. Directorial effort All Too Well, a short film, received a festival push in Toronto and is eligible for the 2023 Oscars, and her performance in David O. Russell’s Amsterdam saw her holding her own among one of the year’s starriest ensembles. On the music side, 10th studio album Midnights helped Swift score an unprecedented feat when she became the first artist in history to hold every slot in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100. Oh, and she literally broke Ticketmaster with the demand for her 2023 U.S. tour.
The character I identify with “Arya Stark. I realize I don’t know how to use a sword and I’ve never had to rise up from near death to go on an epic revenge mission — but I have been in the music industry for over 15 years, so …”
As of this writing, Valenti easily ranks as the most-courted executive in film. Departing her job as president of production and development at Warner Bros. Pictures this fall after a three-decade run at the company, she’s been fielding overtures from Amazon, Netflix and possibly others. Said to be the only member of Warner brass to push back on the studio’s decision to blindside creatives with Project Popcorn (that infamous pandemic-era move to put theatrical releases also on HBO Max day-and-date), she’s got the talent relationships and strong point of view many suitors are desperate for right now, and is sure to land in a position of influence over a significant number of films.
The Grey’s Anatomy showrunner reinvented the ABC medical drama in its 19th season with new talent after leading lady Ellen Pompeo reduced her screen presence on the Shonda Rhimes show. Via her recently renewed overall deal with ABC Signature, Vernoff’s Trip the Light banner has multiple projects in the works — including First Lie Wins with Octavia Spencer for Hulu.
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “If I’m on the phone, I’m walking. Even if I’m just pacing in the office.”
I’d like to take a meeting with … “Emma Thompson — but just to tell her how deeply I admire her.”
Chair, Disney General Entertainment Content
One of the most ascendant executives across the industry, Walden was elevated yet again in 2022 when she replaced Peter Rice in Disney’s top TV post. She’s responsible for more than 4,500 hours of original content a year across streamers (Disney+ and Hulu), broadcast (ABC) and cable (FX), where programming highlights include ABC’s Abbott Elementary, FX summer must-watch The Bear and Hulu Emmy winner The Dropout. Looking ahead, Walden is especially well positioned in the new regime. Many consider her a top contender to replace Bob Iger when his return to the C-suite expires.
I’d trade places for a day with … “Ryan Murphy. I know what he does all day, and it would be educational and so much fun.”
I’d like to take a meeting with “Jennifer Salke. She’s one of my closest friends but our jobs keep us from spending much time together.”
Actor, Director, Producer
Growing her producing portfolio, Washington dropped (and directed) Hulu legal drama Reasonable Doubt after starring in Paul Feig’s family flick The School for Good and Evil. Her Simpson Street banner, which has projects at Onyx (including starring in and EPing dramedy series Unprisoned) and FX, is also behind her next vehicle: Lionsgate action feature Shadow Force.
Last great read “The Persuaders by Anand Giridharadas.”
I’d like to take a meeting with … “My therapist.”
Since decamping from WME to be a manager, Wechter has closed impressive deals for such clients as Keanu Reeves (John Wick 4), Jeremy Strong (Armageddon Time) and Diane Lane (Feud).
Last great read “The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.”
President of Production, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group
In 2022, Westerman’s films either landed at streamers — the J.Lo-fronted Shotgun Wedding will stream on Amazon in January — or proved commercially dubious at the box office (The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent). But she has an absolutely stacked slate with John Wick 4 and Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, both due in 2023, alongside Judy Blume adaptation Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
I’d trade places for a day with … “Someone with my same job — but in the ’90s.”
Daily routine hack that’s changed my life “A husband who always remembers where I leave things.”
In spite of a tedious news cycle that conflated personal with professional, the Wilde-directed Don’t Worry Darling proved to be a commercial success with nearly $90 million in worldwide grosses on an under-$40 million budget. For Wilde, who will be seen onscreen in Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, it’s unclear what is next, but she is still attached to direct a Marvel feature for Sony.
The multihyphenate mogul was again ubiquitous in 2022, delivering interview specials (Netflix’s Oprah + Viola), anointing authors with book club picks and even returning to producing features with a celebrated Sidney Poitier documentary. But some of Winfrey’s most interesting work still takes place on her thriving cable network, which sunsetted flagship Queen Sugar after launching The Kings of Napa and solidifying a thriving block of unscripted originals on Fridays and Saturdays. Next year sees a theatrical swing with her adaptation of stage musical The Color Purple — a full-circle moment, considering that she earned her first Oscar nomination for her role in the 1985 film adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel.
Last great read “Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.”
The character I identify with “Glinda from The Wizard of Oz.”
Spending the year largely offscreen, filming season three of The Morning Show, among other projects, Witherspoon was hardly taking it easy. The Hello Sunshine founder acquired lifestyles brand The Home Edit and produced a string of hits on TV (Netflix breakout From Scratch and Apple TV+ entry Surface) and in theaters. Where the Crawdads Sing, an adaptation of one of her own book club picks, was the sleeper hit of the summer with $140 million in box office. Come February, she’ll dip back into the rom-com waters with Your Place or Mine — which she’s starring in, alongside Ashton Kutcher, as well as producing.
I’d trade places for a day with … “Taika Waititi — he always seems like he’s having the best time at work.”
I’d like to take a meeting with “Olivia Rodrigo, Sadie Sink and Alex Cooper.”
Even with the rapid rise of TikTok, YouTube remains the preferred platform for creators to make money, thanks to the YouTube Partner Program and a forthcoming revenue-sharing system for Shorts creators that will launch in the new year. And, according to YouTube, Wojcicki’s company has contributed more than $25 billion to the U.S. GDP and more than $6 billion to the music industry in the past year.
Industry slang I’m totally over “Work-life balance.”
Last great read “Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner — it’s such a great read!”
President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The producer behind The Joy Luck Club and The People vs. Larry Flynt was elected to the organization’s top post in August. The Queens-born daughter of Chinese immigrants, Yang has spent her career championing Asians and Asian Americans in the industry. Now she’s working with a new CEO, Bill Kramer, on the 2023 Oscar telecast and the high-stakes (and high-cost) Academy Museum.
Yeoh is on a booking spree after racking up honors (Telluride, Toronto, AFI) for her work in Everything Everywhere All at Once. The title could also describe the Oscar contender’s plate, which includes The Witcher prequel Blood Origin at Netflix and roles in franchises such as Transformers, Avatar and Agatha Christie entry A Haunting in Venice.
The Euphoria star, who began 2022 atop the box office in Spider-Man: No Way Home, made history this summer as the youngest person to win two acting Emmys and the first Black woman to win two Emmys in the best actress in a drama series category. Along with a third season of the HBO drama in the works, which she also produces, Zendaya is in production on Dune: Part Two and will star in Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers.
This story first appeared in the Dec. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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