THR's 21st annual ranking celebrates the 100 most powerful female leaders in the entertainment industry.
This story first appeared in the Dec. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Who’s in charge? Read here to find out. Once again, THR's annual list ranks the town’s top females, from execs to a new TV ‘It’ girl, in order of empire, influence and intimidating intelligence.
Edited by Stacey Wilson.
Written by Tim Appelo, Marc Bernardin, Alex Ben Block, Kevin Cassidy, Tina Daunt, Eriq Gardner, Lesley Goldberg, Shirley Halperin, Marisa Guthrie, Andy Lewis, Pamela McClintock, Daniel Miller, Michael O’Connell, Lacey Rose, Tatiana Siegel, Georg Szalai and Stacey Wilson.
Selection Criteria: For THR's annual Power 100 issue, editors based their selections on the following: revenue generated for their companies, valuation of assets, number of employees overseen, influence within the film and television industries, ability to get projects greenlighted or proximity to greenlight power, general standing and reputation within the entertainment community.
Pictured: Anne Sweeney.
I'll be honest with you: This is the only job I'm focused on right now. And I love it." Anne Sweeney deftly has deflected yet another inquiry about her aspirations for the top job in the Walt Disney Co. empire when her boss, chairman and CEO Robert Iger, steps down in 2015. A nudge for a more revealing answer proves futile. Sweeney laughs and begins to repeat herself: "This is the only job …"
It's quintessential Sweeney: careful, deliberate, unfailingly polite.
Certainly her present job -- as co-chair of Disney Media Networks, and president of Disney/ABC Television Group -- would require no small amount of focus. She oversees nearly 10,000 employees at ABC (the entertainment and news divisions plus daytime), eight local stations, seven cable networks (including ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior), Hyperion Publishing, Radio Disney, ABC Studios and Disney's 50 percent stake in A+E Networks. This year, Disney Media Networks saw revenue increase 4 percent to $19.4 billion while operating income grew 8 percent to $6.6 billion. She receives 300 to 500 e-mails a day ("I read through them quickly, and I delegate well"). Most of each day is spent in meetings ("But lucky me, I like everyone on my team"). And she travels to New York (where ABC News, Hyperion and various other businesses are based) about once a month.
"I believe in having total clarity around our goals," she says. "I believe in creating these goals together as a group and making sure they're aligned with Bob Iger's goals for the Walt Disney Co. And more than anything, making sure people understand that they have a responsibility to one another. And when one of us has a great victory, it is a result of everyone working together. And quite honestly, we share the failures as well."
THR's most powerful woman in entertainment for a third straight year, Sweeney, 55, a married mother of two who had early aspirations to be a teacher (her mother and grandmother were teachers, and her daughter is pursuing a master's in education at Stanford University), says she never plotted a high-powered career trajectory for herself.
"I really moved through my career based on curiosity about something," she says. "I never looked at a title and said, 'I want that.' "
Nonetheless, Sweeney's achievements would seem to reveal canny career management in addition to smarts and an ability to delegate and inspire.
"She has a unique combination of professionalism and warmth," says Katie Couric.
Sweeney was instrumental in the deal that brought Couric to ABC Daytime and also made her a special correspondent for ABC News. "There's something very appealing about someone who is a straight-talking, direct executive, who I think was genuinely excited about the prospect of me coming to ABC," adds Couric. "I never felt like there was that unctuous quality that you sometimes see in executives who are trying to lure you to come to a place."
Sweeney was in the studio audience Sept. 10 for Couric's first show (it was the most successful talk show launch in a decade, since Dr. Phil). And she still watches Katie, just as she watches all of the morning news shows and ABC's entertainment lineup (which still boasts the top-rated comedy and drama on TV with Modern Family and Grey's Anatomy, while Entertainment chief Paul Lee has ordered full seasons of freshman series Nashville and The Neighbors). She was at the Good Morning America staff meeting July 9 after Robin Roberts announced on air that she was suffering from a rare blood disorder and would undergo a bone marrow transplant. And she was on the phone before 6 a.m. with ABC News president Ben Sherwood the morning GMA snapped Today's 16-plus-year morning news win streak.
"We found out at 8:31 a.m. on April 19," says Sherwood. "I would say she found out around 5:31 a.m. [L.A. time]."
Sweeney has been invaluable in the news division's joint venture with Univision, says Sherwood, who credits her experience launching networks earlier in her career at Nickelodeon then FX. And she spearheaded Disney's Day of Giving, a companywide effort that has raised $19 million for the Red Cross to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. She was in constant communication with the news division when an ABC crew was briefly abducted in 2011 during the demonstrations in Cairo. And she checked in on an ABC News employee who during the Thanksgiving holiday choked on a grape in the cafeteria and had to be saved by the Heimlich maneuver.
"She's the leader of a 10,000-person organization," says Sherwood. "And she leads it with real vision for where she wants the company to go, and she leads it with a real personal touch."
Collaborative and available, Sweeney is a natural mentor, especially to other women.
"I was in a meeting in her office a couple of months ago, and I looked around, and it was all females. It wasn't because we were dealing with a female enterprise; it happened because every position of leadership in the room were all women," recalls Couric. "And I'm not anti-man. But I do think some of the highest positions have been and continue to be closed off to women. I think until you get women at the highest positions, that's when you start creating a truly level playing field. And I think it's only a matter of time until the very top is occupied by a woman as well."
As a kid I was always: A great reader who kept reading even when the lights went out with a flashlight under the covers. I loved good stories. I knew when a character was a good character. That was the beginning of all of this for me: great storytelling.
Favorite way to unwind: Binge-watching Revenge and Scandal on multiple devices.
Totally starstruck around: There are a few: Julie Andrews; Richard Sherman, who wrote the music for Mary Poppins; and Dick Van Dyke. I was in a meeting with Julie years ago, and she started to read to us from one of her children's books. I almost put my head on the table.
Proudest moment this year: The Day of Giving we put together across every ABC show for victims of Hurricane Sandy. We raised about $19 million for the Red Cross.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Relax."
The reigning queen of cable, Hammer, 62, now oversees more than 2,000 employees and a portfolio -- with 2012 revenue of $4 billion and profits of $2 billion, both up 5 percent compared with 2011 -- that includes USA, Syfy, G4, E! and Universal Cable Productions and remains the biggest contributor to NBCUniversal's bottom line. Her crown jewel, USA, seen in 143 countries, will round out 2012 as the most-watched cable network for a seventh straight year, and Syfy -- which is prepping for the spring launch of Defiance, a $100 million gamble on the convergence of TV and video games -- is on track for its most-watched year to date. And fresh off a 2012 rebranding of E!, NBCU has a G4 makeover on tap for 2013.
Proudest moment this year: My son, who is a government major and film minor at Dartmouth, sent me his first short script, and it was laugh-out-loud hysterical.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Apologies to my husband, but … walk in the door and have my 75-pound golden retriever kiss my face and follow me around from that moment until I go to bed.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: I'm an exercise junkie. I've been doing something called BodyQuest, which is somewhere between Lotte Berk and pilates.
My indulgence: Great wine shared with great friends.
Can't get through my workday without: Texting my kids. Every now and again, I get a reply.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "They speak a different language in Hollywood. Yes doesn't always mean yes, and no rarely means no."
Worst advice I've ever gotten: I was in Boston working in broadcast at an ABC affiliate, and a senior person in the company asked me: "Why would you go into cable? It's a dead end."
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: I'm one part shrink, one part number-cruncher and two parts cheerleader.
Sony Pictures Entertainment -- the only Hollywood film and television studio run by a woman, and a risk-taker at that -- is enjoying a record year in terms of worldwide box-office revenue. Pascal's slate of films has raked in more than $4 billion globally to date -- a first -- putting the studio at No. 1 in market share. The boom is led by Skyfall, which has grossed nearly $800 million worldwide (though Sony doesn't own the film and is distributing for MGM and Eon), and The Amazing Spider-Man ($752.2 million). Pascal also can take credit for launching two franchises in 21 Jump Street ($201.6 million)and Hotel Transylvania ($291.4 million to date). That's not to say there haven't been a few challenges: Adam Sandler's That's My Boy ($57.7 million) was a flop, and the studio decided to trim development costs by 10 percent, and make two fewer movies a year, beginning in 2014. The rejiggering saw Sony bring on Fox to co-finance George Clooney's The Monuments Men, while Sandler took his Western comedy Ridiculous 6 from Sony to Paramount. Pascal says she and chairman Michael Lynton are determined to increase profitability and that there's no belt-tightening order from financially troubled parent company Sony Corp. Between the film studio and Pascal's lucrative television arm -- which produces such shows as Breaking Bad and Shark Tank -- Sony Pictures took in $8.3 billion in revenue during the fiscal year ending March 31. Pascal, 54, says she remains drawn to projects highlighting female protagonists, including her biggest Oscar contender this year, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I saw Harold and Maude.
Who gave me my first big break: Tony Garnett, a producer who was a big deal at the BBC. At one point, he came to Los Angeles and worked for The Ladd Co. He hired me as a secretary.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my son, who is 12. I still think of him as my little boy, but I guess he's not so little.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Paint by numbers. I like to do landscapes, kittens, beaches and country houses.
My indulgence: I take a lot of baths.
Best advice I've ever gotten: "They won, you lost -- move on."
Raven has led one of the most successful brand expansions in TV history. From A+E's beginnings as one network to a behemoth that now boasts 10 domestic channels -- two (A&E and History) consistently rate among cable's top five entertainment networks -- and a suite of international channels that reaches more than 300 million households in 150 countries. "We have a portfolio of brands," says Raven, 59, who has been at A+E for 30 years and has a grown son. "We have 19 of the top 50 shows in cable in scripted and unscripted. We're not a one-note company." And with NBCUniversal selling its 15.8 percent stake in A+E to Disney and Hearst for more than $3 billion in July, the company is now valued at nearly $20 billion, according to SEC filings, with projected 2012 revenue of $3.5 billion.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I heard there was a channel starting up for women called Daytime, which was the precursor to Lifetime.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Have dinner out with my husband. We eat out a lot!
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Brunch downtown, a little shopping, catching a movie or a play with my husband.
My indulgence: Occasional French fries.
Can't get through my workday without: A decaf skim latte. It only has 4 percent caffeine, but if you drink a lot of them, you get a buzz.
Totally starstruck around: This year I met Kevin Costner. And Paul McCartney -- that was a big one.
"Hey, everyone look," shouts Anne Hathaway, in character as Homeland's Carrie Mathison on Saturday Night Live, "I made a drawing of me and Brody kissing" -- she pauses, her bottom lip quivering as she points to a corkboard cluttered with clues -- "for the investigation."
Taran Killam, playing former P.O.W. and Carrie love interest Nicolas Brody, hollers back in an angered tone: "Carrie! That's a secret that only everyone knows."
The Homeland sketch, which premiered on SNL three days earlier, is being replayed for the 50 or so 20th Century Fox Television employees gathered Nov. 13 for a weekly staff meeting. Chairman Dana Walden and her army of executives are now roaring with laughter as the five-minute spoof continues.
"Any time you get a show like Saturday Night Live willing to devote an entire sketch to a show, you know you're doing something right," says Walden, 48, who had been given a heads-up about the skit by Hathaway's manager (Hathaway had reached out to Claire Danes earlier in the week as well). And Walden, a 20-year veteran of the News Corp.-owned company, is no stranger to doing things right, as evidenced by her intimate involvement in such cultural phenomenons as The X-Files, Ally McBeal, 24 and Glee during her career.
With the help of juggernauts NCIS and The Big Bang Theory, Tassler's CBS finished the 2011-12 primetime season as the most-watched network for the ninth time in 10 years. As the longest-serving broadcast entertainment president, the married mother of two, 55, also can lay claim to the fastest-growing daytime show (The Talk) and new hits Vegas and Elementary.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I got a job to be an assistant to a literary agent at a small talent agency. I chose that job over another job, which was executive assistant to the president of the import/export division of the Thrifty Corp. I made the right choice.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my husband [director Jerry Levine] and 14-year-old daughter. I'm very involved in my kid's life -- it's great being able to see her every day, her volleyball games and all of her teen drama.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: I love to just be able to read for pleasure.
My indulgence: Shoe shopping online, usually Nordstrom.com.
Can't get through my workday without: I'm a big coffee drinker, much to my doctor's chagrin. I'm a multicup girl. And that's not what makes me so hyper. It just seems to intensify it.
Totally starstruck around: I recently had lunch with Morgan Freeman, and I was out-of-my-mind starstruck. Also, [president of Israel] Shimon Peres.
When people are confused about what I do, I tell them: There's the, "Do you make shows?" Sort of. "Do you produce shows?" Sort of. Usually, when people meet me, they don't believe what I do. I was at a fundraising barbecue, and a very, very well-known basketball player was there, and a friend said to him, "I want to introduce you to the president of CBS." And the player went to shake my husband's hand.
Top three shows on my DVR: 60 Minutes, the IBA News from Israel and documentaries. I'm sort of a documentary addict.
It's Nov. 29, four days after the debut of Lifetime's Liz & Dick, the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton telepic starring Lindsay Lohan, whose less-than-stellar reviews set off a media frenzy. The two-hour epic was deemed a "wildly graceless biopic" by the Los Angeles Times, "an imbalanced mess" by Hitfix and "an instant classic of unintentional hilarity" by THR's Tim Goodman. But the promise of a camp experience, coupled with the first opportunity to see Lohan in a significant role in five years, seemed to tee it up to soar spectacularly -- or, conversely, bomb big. Instead, it landed squarely, and respectably, in the middle, delivering solid numbers that made it the fourth-highest-rated TV movie of 2012.
Of the reviews, Nancy Dubuc, who oversees Lifetime as president of entertainment and media at A+E Networks, says, "You can't take a risk like that and not draw criticism, and we knew that going in." And if she had it to do all over again? Absolutely, she says, without a second's hesitation. After all, for days leading up to the movie's Thanksgiving weekend premiere, scores of people were discussing and, in many cases, Googling what channel Lifetime was on their cable system who never had before. Suddenly, a network that long ago waned in relevance was the topic du jour on talk shows, tabloids and countless Twitter feeds. "We couldn't have bought the buzz that we got," she explains. "The idea that all of these people were talking about Lifetime? I'll take that."
Among film executives, Langley, 44, is one of only two women who can boast greenlight authority at a major studio (Amy Pascal is the other). The U.K. native, who runs the studio alongside chairman Adam Fogelson, is having a banner year in terms of worldwide box-office revenue, currently at $2.9 billion, compared with $2.34 billion in 2011. That's despite the underperformance of Battleship ($302.8 million) and thanks to megahits Ted ($501.5 million) and Dr. Seuss' The Lorax ($348.8 million). And Langley showed savvy by reinvigorating old franchises with The Bourne Legacy ($275.8 million) and American Reunion ($234.7 million). But perhaps Langley's splashiest move of the year came when she helped Universal and Focus Features acquire the rights to fellow Brit EL James' Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. As erotic heroine Anastasia Steele might say, "Holy crap!"
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was in my early 20s, living in London. I had a sense that in a far-off place, in a distant land, there was a thing called a film business. I got on a plane and flew there to check it out. I was instantly smitten.
Who gave me my first big break: Mike De Luca, who hired me as an assistant at New Line.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Get home and see my boys [both under age 3].
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Organic gardening at my home in Ojai. Then we cook things we pick in the garden.
My indulgence: A weekly manicure/pedicure.
Most surprising songs on my iPod: Neil Diamond's greatest hits.
Totally starstruck around: [The late] Steve Jobs. I was mesmerized by every single word he had to say.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Look beyond the facade and the mystique of the business and recognize it's a real industry with real jobs." Worst advice I've ever gotten "Don't take time to have kids if you want a career."
Top three shows on my DVR: Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Girls.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: America's Next Top Model.
No female film executive saw her stock rise as dramatically in 2012 as Kennedy, who became the keeper of Hollywood's most lucrative franchise in late October when Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and announced that it was resurrecting Star Wars. As a producer, the Northern California native and mother of two (married to producer Frank Marshall) already boasts some of the highest-grossing films of all time, including E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the Jurassic Park trilogy. With George Lucas serving as creative consultant, Kennedy, 59, will call the shots on Episodes VII, VIII and IX, with fanboys no doubt dissecting her every move.
The highest-ranking female executive at Warner Bros., Kroll can bring the horse to water and get it to drink. With the studio crossing $4 billion in worldwide box office for the past three years (an unmatched feat), this year she brilliantly marketed two films that looked tricky on paper: the Iranian hostage drama Argo ($148.7 million and counting) and the male-stripper drama Magic Mike ($164.3 million worldwide). Part of the key team who assembled the morning after the mass murder in an Aurora, Colo., theater during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, she ably helped navigate the studio's message as the film became its biggest winner of the year ($1.1 billion). Of course, there were stumbles -- Dark Shadows, Rock of Ages and Cloud Atlas -- but with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey out Dec. 14, expect Warners, already at $3.5 billion, to go four for four. As in $4 billion.
My big break: Being hired by Turner in Atlanta.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Go home and watch Homeland, Game of Thrones, The Voice or some other show I've recorded on my DVR.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Not being on the phone.
My indulgence: Buying beautiful things.
Can't get through my workday without: Coffee and a gluten-free cookie.
Most surprising song on my iPod: I have every version of [Leonard Cohen's] "Hallelujah."
Proudest moment this year: Waking up and seeing the numbers for Magic Mike and Argo as well as The Dark Knight Rises.
Totally starstruck when: I was at a party where Bruce Springsteen was and could not work up the nerve to go up to him.
This summer, rumors swirled that Snider was in talks with Comcast to take over Universal. Although those discussions broke down, Snider shored up the standing of the 80-person DreamWorks by extending financing with backer Reliance, which committed another $200 million-plus, allowing Snider, 51, and partner Steven Spielberg to make 8 to 10 movies over the next several years. It was a disappointing year at the box office for DreamWorks -- People Like Us bombed with $12.4 million. However, Snider and the studio are ending on a high note: Spielberg's awards darling Lincoln has turned into an event movie for adults, earning north of $85 million to date.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was in law school, and to make money I wrote briefs for a law firm and coverage of scripts for an agency [APA]. I made $50 a script. There was something about those first couple synopses. … I felt thrilled.
Who gave me my first big break: The University of Pennsylvania alumni connection. I reached out to a lot of alums, including producer Bob Cort, who sent me to Tom Pollock, who said I should be an agent. I applied at CAA and Triad, and I got the job in the mailroom at Triad.
Most exciting decision we've made as a company this year: Going into business with Mister Smith, David Garrett's new company, which is allowing DreamWorks to make output deals with European distributors.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my family and get comfortable. I could set a land-speed record for getting out of my clothes and into sweats, Uggs and a ponytail.
My indulgence: Sugar. Every morning I swear off it, and every night I have Oreos.
Can't get through my work day without: Tea, hot. Working-class PG Tips.
Most surprising songs on my iPod: Blue Valentine soundtrack.
My proudest moment this year: Seeing Lincoln. And I was proud that last year we had two best picture noms.
Totally starstruck around: Steven Spielberg. He's one of the only people in my life where the experience doesn't get old.
Best advice I've ever gotten: From Peter Guber: "The material will determine your fate."
Top three shows on my DVR: The Daily Show, The Rachel Maddow Show and Homeland.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Any Dateline true-crime specials that start with, "She was a good-time girl …"
"I look at 2012 as a good-to-great year," says the New York-based Zalaznick, 49. "I can't say that we feel comfortable predicting the stabilization of viewership ... but it certainly feels like we know better where the landscape is in terms of television viewing, appetite for great content including digital, and the marketplace." With that in mind, her vision includes expansion into scripted programming for Bravo, the top-rated channel of a cable portfolio that also includes Oxygen, Style and mun2 (in development: a series adaptation of 2009 indie The Joneses and a reboot of 1989 cult classic Heathers); a bigger piece of the Spanish-language media pie for Telemundo (on track to have another record ratings year); and explosive growth at Fandango (mobile ticket transactions increased 116 percent year-over-year during summer 2012). With such a diverse portfolio, Zalaznick does not fear the fractionalization of entertainment platforms and increase in on-demand viewing. "It's healthy if you follow the eyeballs of one program from platform to platform," she says. "That is where we keep our focus."
Toughest decision I had to make this year: It wasn't a tough decision, but Bravo really threw down a gauntlet by announcing our presence in the scripted arena.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Go home. When I wake up in the morning, I can't wait to get to work.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Cook and see a lot of movies.
Most surprising songs on my iPhone: A tremendous amount of folk and classic country.
Proudest moment this year: Jose Diaz-Balart and the Telemundo news team anchoring Election Night coverage from NBCUniversal's Democracy Plaza.
Totally starstruck around: Weirdly, business moguls in any industry, like Virginia Rometty, the CEO of IBM.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: The only thing I'm embarrassed about is how little television I watch.
Her international distribution operation is one of the most powerful in Hollywood, reaching $2.87 billion in ticket sales in 2011 and with year-to-date ticket sales of about $2.1 billion. Warners usually is No. 1 or No. 2 in terms of market share, an enviable feat. Appointed to the post in 2000, Vandenberg, 49, is credited with improving communications with the studio's network of distributors in more than 120 countries. Several films that underperformed domestically made up ground overseas this year, including Wrath of the Titans, which grossed $218.3 million internationally and $83.7 domestically.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I lived in Hong Kong until I was 11 -- my father was Chinese, my mother was German -- and I remember watching big event films like Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. I loved everything.
Who gave me my first big break: [Former Warners president] Alan Horn, when he made me president of the division.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my husband and children. My daughter is 6, and my son is 13.
My indulgence: Rote Grutze, a German dessert with vanilla sauce over a red-berry concoction.
Can't get through my workday without: A green drink from Pressed Juicery.
Proudest moment this year: When we helped to push The Dark Knight over $1 billion in worldwide grosses.
If there's a word to define the woman who introduced millions to Lena Dunham's naked body, it's far from the one Sue Naegle uses to describe herself on a recent sunny morning inside SoHo House.
"I'm actually totally the prude of my family," laughs the blond exec, dressed casual-cool in slim pants, a black blazer and jewel-tone-blue blouse (she opts to wear such labels as J.Crew and Rag & Bone). "My mom actually likes Girls a lot," says Naegle, sipping green tea. "It's funny to her that the show was so controversial in how it depicted sex and nudity. But I do think the honesty is nothing we've ever seen before, and the ability to talk about the awkwardness is revolutionary. I really envy Lena's level of self-possession at such a young age."
After nearly a decade in the ratings basement, NBC executives have something to crow about. The network recently wrapped the November sweep up 7 percent in the key 18-to-49 demo, moving from No. 4 to No. 1. It's also the only network among the Big Four to gain viewership this season thanks in part to Salke, 48, and her fellow executives' decision to program a fall edition of The Voice as well as add newcomers Revolution, The New Normal and Go On.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Having an important voice in scheduling the network for the first time was a huge responsibility, which involved lots of gut-checking and speaking up.
Who gave me my first big break: [Former Spelling TV chief] Gary Randall, who promoted me off his desk when I told him I was ready to be an executive. I remember the conversation to this day as we walked through the lobby of Spelling Television.
Proudest moment this year: These past weeks where NBC is succeeding in ways we only dreamed about happening so soon.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Snuggle up with my family [husband and Fox 21 chief Bert Salke and their three kids] and watch The Voice.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Skiing in Utah with my family and going out for a fun snowy dinner.
My indulgence: Wine!
Can't get through my workday without: My iPad. It's central command center for all things Salke!
Best advice I've ever gotten: From [20th chairman] Dana Walden, "Always be honest and very direct, no matter how difficult that is sometimes."
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Anything Real Housewives, with a side of Honey Boo Boo.
Under Daly's watch, the DWA hit machine continued in 2012, with summer release Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted nabbing $740.5 million worldwide, dwarfing competitor Pixar's Brave and its $535 million worldwide haul. The 15-year veteran of DWA, 56, handles day-to-day operations and led one of the year's splashiest deals: DWA's five-year distribution pact with Fox, inked in August. And though Rise of the Guardians was a rare misfire ($34 million in seven days), DWA will have plenty of chances to make up for any lost box-office ground: It will push a dozen movies through Fox's pipeline during the next three-plus years.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When the video business was just beginning, and I knew these movies would become more than just seeing them in the theaters.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Watching sports. I was very excited that the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.
My indulgence: Multiple lattes throughout the day. We have a Starbucks on campus.
Most surprising songs on my iPod: Lots of James Brown.
Totally starstruck around: Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval, who happens to be nicknamed "Kung Fu Panda."
Colligan, 39, isn't afraid to try a novel approach: She turned the micro-budgeted Paranormal Activity into a multimillion-dollar franchise by hosting a wave of screenings of the first film in select cities before opening it nationwide. More recently, she came up with a savvy marketing campaign for Flight, which included a special prerelease screening and Q&A with Denzel Washington and Robert Zemeckis in New York that was streamed live into five theaters in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Up next are the Barbra Streisand-Seth Rogen comedy The Guilt Trip (Dec. 19) and Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher (Dec. 21). But Paramount needs a strong holiday season to improve its revenue standing. So far this year, its titles -- led by DreamWorks Animation's Madgascar 3 ($740.5 million) -- have taken in roughly $2.3 billion worldwide.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When, as an investment banker, I realized how jealous I was of people who worked in the business.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Hang with my three boys, who are 7, 3 and 2.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Make a great dinner and open a bottle of wine with my husband [producer Mark Roybal.
Most surprising song on my iPod: "Where the Hood At" by DMX.
Proudest moment this year: Being part of Paramount as it celebrated its 100-year anniversary.
Totally starstruck around: Presidents and rock stars.
Best advice I've ever gotten: My dad once told me to make sure I wake up every day and love what I do. I can say that I do.
Winfrey, 58, finally can claim some momentum at her fledgling network, with three straight quarters of ratings growth. Her footprint also includes O, The Oprah Magazine, a SiriusXM channel, 15 million Twitter followers, a Facebook page with nearly 8 million subscribers and a new content channel on Huffington Post.
Who gave me my first big break: John Heidelberg, a radio disc jockey at WVOL in Nashville. He asked, "Would you like to hear your voice on tape, young lady?" I auditioned and was given the job that day.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Go home to my superpack: Luke, Layla, Lauren, Sunny and Sadie, my five dogs.
Proudest accomplishment this year: OWN turned that corner. Woo-hoo!
Can't get through my workday without: A cup of masala chai with extra ginger.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: From Maya Angelou: "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time."
In April, the France native was promoted from CEO of Bertelsmann-owned RTL Group production arm FremantleMedia North America to CEO of all of FremantleMedia, best known for such global TV hits as American Idol and The X Factor. Since moving to London for the post, she has shifted focus from directly overseeing the development and production of more than 600 hours of network, cable and syndicated programming to a more strategic corporate role. "This has been a big year," says Frot-Coutaz, 46. "I had eight weeks to transition -- which in hindsight wasn't nearly enough."
Who gave me my first big break: Greg Dyke. I was his mergers and acquisitions, strategy and business development person for three years. A lot of the deals that built this company were deals I had made for him when he was CEO of the company.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Deciding to take this new job. Also, the casting of Idol this summer was a long process. And deciding who would replace me in North America!
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: I'm a big foodie. One of the nice discoveries, after 12 years away from London, is that the food has become a lot better. There are great farmers markets now.
My indulgence: Exercise. If I didn't do that, I probably wouldn't make it through the week. I have a trainer twice a week.
Can't get through my workday without: Cappuccino in the morning.
Most surprising songs on my iPod: My latest download was Bob Marley.
Totally starstruck around: Johnny Depp.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Relax."
As the leader of two divergent brands in the Silver Spring, Md.-based Discovery portfolio, O'Neill has maintained the flagship quality of Discovery Channel (the No. 8 network among men 25-to-54 in the third quarter, thanks to the success of Shark Week, Sons of Guns and Bering Sea Gold; quarterly earnings for the company were $206 million) while guiding a rebrand of TLC from the home of dry documentaries to a repository for subculture reality (Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Breaking Amish) that often draws as much criticism as it does high ratings. O'Neill, 46, who has a 12-year-old son with her partner, makes no apologies for Honey Boo Boo, the show about a sassy 7-year-old beauty pageant aspirant and her rural Georgia family. It ranked No. 1 on ad-supported cable in its Wednesday night time slot among all key demographics and has been picked up for a second season. And she points out that "in the same year we hit pop-culture gold with Honey Boo Boo, we also potentially furthered science and safety technology with Plane Crash," part of the Discovery series Curiosity.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was a starving grad student [at Bowling Green State University in Ohio], eating popcorn and Kraft mac and cheese, and a big, glossy Discovery Channel intern packet was sent to me in the mail.
Who gave me my first big break: Former Discovery Channel president Clark Bunting, who recognized my passion -- despite having no experience for program scheduling -- and moved me from business affairs to Travel Channel scheduling.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my family and then check the FiOS "What's Hot" app in primetime to see who is getting traction.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Walking our beagle, Riley.
My indulgence: Ben & Jerry's Milk & Cookies ice cream.
Can't get through my workday without: Teasing [TLC senior vp production and development] Howard Lee about something; listening to sarcasm from [Discovery/TLC spokesperson] Laurie Goldberg and being first to comment on Nielsen overnights.
Most surprising song on my iPhone: My team won't be surprised that I have the theme song from Rocky.
Proudest moments this year: Discovery aired Space Jump Live to record Sunday afternoon numbers, and TLC rocked prime with Long Island Medium and Breaking Amish.
Totally starstruck around: Josh Charles and Harrison Ford.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Don't work in Hollywood; commute there from Washington, D.C."
Best advice I've ever gotten: From my dad in a greeting card: "Protect yours; kick theirs."
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: I watch TV.
Top three shows on my DVR: The Good Wife, Scandal and Downton Abbey.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: iCarly.
Gabler, 56, is widely admired for her taste in projects, from Walk the Line to The Devil Wears Prada. For the past two years, the circumspect executive largely has been focused on Ang Lee's Life of Pi, based on Yann Martel's best-selling novel and the movie that many doubted would work. Proving the naysayers wrong, Pi overperformed in its debut over the Thanksgiving weekend and could be in line for a best picture Oscar nom. Upcoming Fox 2000 releases include the sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and the Hailee Steinfeld starrer Why We Broke Up.
Who gave me my first big break: Producer Jerry Weintraub, who brought me aboard as a vp at United Artists.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: There were a couple of movies I decided not to make, including The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Kenneth Branagh was attached to direct, and we had Kate Winslet, but just couldn't make it happen.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my husband and 10-year-old daughter.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Riding horses at my Santa Barbara home. I have a new one named Soldier.
My indulgence: There are a few, including buying art.
Can't get through my workday without: Saying my daughter's goodnight prayer. No matter where in the world I am, I call and we say it together.
Proudest moment this year: Screening Life of Pi at the New York Film Festival.
Totally starstruck around: It was Ang Lee for a long time; now he's like my relative. I'm also in awe of Meryl Streep.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: They always ask me, "Where's your credit?" I tell them I'm not a producer. My "part" is the 20th Century Fox opening label.
Rocco and Universal are enjoying a record year at the North American box office, with $1.2 billion in ticket sales. Rocco, 63, has more experience than any female executive in terms of leading a studio distribution operation, a job requiring strong negotiation skills (battling theater owners for screen time isn't for the faint of heart). Ted was a surprise hit, earning $218.7 million in North America. Rocco's slow rollout plan for Pitch Perfect also paid off, with the musical comedy earning north of $65 million to date.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was in high school in Flushing, Queens, and was offered an opportunity to work at Universal after school in the distribution and sales department. I fell in love.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Rearranging our summer schedule and moving Ted and Savages.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Play golf.
My indulgence: A glass of cabernet.
Can't get through my workday without: Looking at box-office grosses at 5:40 a.m.
Most surprising song on my iPod: "Livin' Thing" by ELO.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: We put movies in theaters.
Top shows on my DVR: Any Yankees game during the season and reruns of Boardwalk Empire.
Lee's nearly 30-year tenure has seen BET transition from a repository for oft-criticized music videos to original scripted series and movies, public affairs programming, late-night talk, documentaries and awards shows. The South Carolina native, 57, also has invested in digital (the BET Awards generated 10 million unique tweets, up 683 percent year-over-year), marketing and program development. Down 13 percent for the third quarter, BET Networks hasn't been immune to the ratings slide in the Viacom portfolio. But it is also coming off of a record ratings year in 2011: The return of The Game in January 2011 topped 7.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched sitcom telecast in ad-supported cable history. This year, BET signed The Game duo Salim and Mara Akil to an overall development deal; their first BET drama series, Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union, will bow as a telefilm in early 2013.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: Seeing The Cosby Show cemented my love for television and the power of the media. It showed you could really change society with a show.
Who gave me my first big break: [BET founder] Bob Johnson hired me 27 years ago as the first general counsel for the company and allowed me to do business things in addition to the legal, and that's how I was able to become COO and eventually CEO.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Get into something more comfortable. I have a whole wardrobe of lounge outfits. I'm addicted to the kind of clothing they sell at spas.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Exercising. I couldn't have said that three months ago. But now I am developing -- I wouldn't say a love for -- but a habit of working out.
My indulgence: Shopping, especially when I'm in a bad mood.
Proudest moment this year: Election Night. I'm very proud of our recent election coverage and the part we played in helping to re-elect the president.
Totally starstruck around: Michelle Obama. I had lunch with her a couple of years ago. I was amazed at how nervous I was.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Dancing With the Stars. It's also the show I want to go on!
The daughter of and likely heir to 89-year-old Sumner Redstone, who controls both Viacom and CBS, she is in the mix with Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and CBS Corp.'s Leslie Moonves to take over for her father, positioning her to determine the future of two major Hollywood players. The 58-year-old also spends much of her time on Advancit Capital, an early-stage investor in media, entertainment and technology.
Who gave me my first big break: I was practicing law, getting my M.A. in social work and raising three kids. My father thought I didn't have enough to do, so he suggested I work in the family business two days a week.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Take a long walk outside or get on the elliptical machine.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Go to the Cinema DeLux Theater at Legacy Place [in Dedham, Mass., where National Amusements, of which she is president, is based] and sample martinis and great food while watching a movie.
My indulgence: Anything chocolate, especially the chips that come in a bag and can be eaten 24/7.
Can't get through my workday without: Heating my coffee in the microwave 1,263 times.
Most surprising song on my iPod: "Save the World" by Swedish House Mafia.
Totally starstruck around Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Know what's real and what isn't."
Proudest moment this year: Being there when my grandson was born and hearing his first cry.
Since she added Style to her portfolio in 2011, the network has executed a rebrand, posted double-digit ratings growth and dropped six years off of its viewer median age (to 36). "The minute we rolled out the rebrand, we immediately heard from the creative community, including many producers we hadn't worked with before," says the New York-based Berwick, a married mother of a 9-year-old son. Bravo also is on track to have its seventh straight best year ever and is a top 10 ad-supported cable net among adults 25-to-54.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was working in a London theater [for a ballet and opera company], and that was a bit too much creative and not enough commerce for me and my bank account. I wanted to do something creative that didn't involve an overdraft.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to Go: home and have a large glass of wine. Favorite way to unwind on the weekend Playing board games with my son. I always win at Clue but always seem to lose at Life. I don't know if there's a message in there.
Can't get through my workday without: A good laugh. I work with a team that's very amusing, and that helps enormously.
Most surprising music on my iPhone: Ace of Base. It's good gym music.
Best advice I've ever gotten: Kathy Dore, former president of Rainbow, once told me: "Don't worry about being liked; be concerned with being fair."
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert preside over the top two late-night programs among younger viewers, and both are on track to have their highest-rated and most-watched years. Under Ganeless, the network has seven primetime series that average around 1 million viewers (including Futurama, 1.7 million; Key & Peele, 1.8 million), four that average at least 2 million (including Brickleberry, 2 million; Workaholics, 2.2 million) and two that have surpassed 3 million (South Park is averaging 3.2 million viewers in its 16th season, and Tosh.0 pulled in 3.6 million for its fourth). Says Ganeless, 47, "The key is to keep our foot on the gas, keep finding the funniest people and let them do their thing."
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I was working in research and got a job at MTV.
Who gave me my first big break: Gabrielle Lesser, who was running research at MTV. She hired me as manager of research at MTV Networks in 1990.
Easiest decision I made all year: Re-signing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
Proudest moment this year: Jon Stewart's autism education benefit, Night of Too Many Stars, and knowing it was going to reach and touch millions and millions of people.
Morrison's division had another stellar year with the blockbuster success of 3D toon Ice Age: Continental Drift. The fourth installment grossed an astounding $874.9 million worldwide, including a record-breaking international total of $714 million, the best foreign showing on record for an animated film. Upcoming Fox Animation and Blue Sky releases include Epic (May 24) and Rio 2 (2014). One looming question remains in how Morrison, 43, will deal with Fox's new five-year distribution pact with Jeffrey Katzenberg's DreamWorks Animation.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When my parents took me to a children's film festival in the Bay Area, and I saw The Red Balloon. It made me want to make movies.
Who gave me my first big break: Professor Howard Suber and the good people at UCLA's Film School who admitted me into their producer's program. I came to Los Angeles with great passion and little experience in filmmaking.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Where to send my son for kindergarten.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Go to the playground with my son and husband.
My indulgence: Pilates.
Most surprising song on my iPhone: Burl Ives singing "Froggy Went a Courtin'."
Proudest moment this year: Seeing my child sing "I'm Glad I'm Not a Turkey" at a school Thanksgiving show.
Totally starstruck around: Sergio Mendes, who is returning to work on the music for Rio 2. He is a legend and a gentleman.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Let your curiosity pave your way."
Top three shows on my DVR: House Hunters, The X Factor and The View.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Yo Gabba Gabba! I watch it with or without my kid.
While some of the 2012 movies Watts shepherded failed to catch on in 2012, including Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Watch and The Three Stooges, others were solid: Prometheus was a good performer, while Chronicle turned out to be a diamond in the rough. Watts, 42, stands to have a big 2013 with The Internship, The Wolverine and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, among other titles.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When Tom Cruise said, "Sometimes you have to say, 'What the f--' "in Risky Business.
Who gave me my first big break: Oliver Stone, who hired me as a production assistant.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Figuring out which director to hand the next Planet of the Apes movie to. I think we killed it with Matt Reeves.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Get in bed and read stories to my three kids.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Mountain biking.
Can't get through my workday without: Calling my husband.
Most surprising song on my iPod: "Back in Black" by AC/DC.
Best advice I've ever gotten: On becoming a studio executive, "Do it on your own terms."
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: So am I.
Proudest accomplishment this year: Finally getting X-Men: Days of Future Past up and running.
Under Utley, 57, and fellow co-president Steve Gilula's tutelage, the specialty label is having another good year, led by worldwide hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The film, galvanizing older moviegoers everywhere, has earned nearly $135 million worldwide after costing a modest $10 million to produce. On the awards side, Searchlight is pinning its hopes on Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren; The Sessions, with Helen Hunt and John Hawkes; and writer-director Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I got put on the Warner Bros. account when I was working at Grey Advertising in New York. I loved the pace and level of creativity.
Who gave me my first big break: A woman named Carolyn Carter from my hometown helped me get my first job on Madison Avenue when I was really struggling. I didn't know Carolyn. My mom met her mom at a needlepoint store.
Toughest decisions I had to make this year: Were about restructuring within the company. It is always heartbreaking whenever anyone loses their job.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my 16-year-old daughter, Mia. She is a senior in high school, and this is my last year with her at home.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Working out. I love to move around after being cooped up in an office all week.
My indulgence: Wine. I love it at the end of a long day.
Can't get through my workday without: Checking in with my husband just to hear his voice.
Most surprising songs on my iPod: Teenybopper stuff. My kids say I have the taste of a 12-year-old.
Proudest moments this year: We got two best picture and two best director Oscar nominations for The Descendants and The Tree of Life.
Totally starstruck around: George Clooney. I was with him a lot on Descendants, and it never wore off.
Best advice I've ever gotten: From my father: "Talent will win out in the end. You might have to suffer a terrible boss or a conniving colleague, but if you put your head down and do your best, it will end up OK."
Sony topped $4 billion at the worldwide box office for the first time ever, and Minghella, 33, played a key role in that impressive haul, helping to launch such hits as 21 Jump Street and The Amazing Spider-Man. Both are poised for sequel treatments, and Minghella also is hard at work on Columbia's 2013 slate, which includes the Jaden Smith-Will Smith collaboration After Earth, the Tom Hanks starrer Captain Phillips and the Roland Emmerich-helmed thriller White House Down, toplined by Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I was in college trying to decide whether to pursue the theater world or the film world, and I realized I could sit in a movie theater and watch four films back-to-back.
Who gave me my first big break: Harvey Weinstein, who gave me my first job in the industry, and Amy Pascal, who gave me the opportunity to really prove myself.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Hike in Santa Monica Canyon with my husband, our 1-year-old daughter and our dogs.
My indulgence: Regular mani-pedis.
Can't get through my workday without: A cup of tea, definitely hot. Apricot Ceylon.
On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 3, Paula Kerger settled in front of her television along with 70 million fellow U.S. citizens to watch the first presidential debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. She was at home with her husband, Joseph Kerger, a novelist, when about 30 minutes into the debate Romney took aim at a certain yellow-feathered friend of millions of American children. "I'm sorry, Jim," Romney told moderator Jim Lehrer, the veteran anchor of PBS' NewsHour, "I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too."
Nevermind the illogical math -- in 2012, PBS and public radio received $445 million from the federal government, or less than $1.50 a person, while the federal deficit is $1.1 trillion and counting -- the statements made for a memorable debate sound bite.
"I literally almost fell off my couch," recalls Kerger, 54, on a mid-November afternoon in her Arlington, Va., office at PBS headquarters. "I couldn't believe it."
The former publisher of People en Espanol and Teen People joined Telemundo as COO in 2008 and oversees all domestic revenue and marketing; digital media and emerging platforms; mun2, Telemundo’s Latino youth cable network; and consumer insights. This year, she guided flagship Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo through its first rebrand in more than a decade while continuing to focus on original content (Telemundo upped its original programming by 40 percent in 2012). With Election Night coverage and Mexican club soccer powering the network to its best November (among total viewers and those 18-49), Telemundo is on track to finish the year with its highest-rated weekday primetime in network history. Native New Yorker Hernandez, 46, was instrumental in launching the sales and marketing initiative Hispanics at NBCU, and she serves on New York City’s Latin Media and Entertainment Commission.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I was in college [at Tufts], studying to go to law school, but every class I wanted to take was creative.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Not ordering a second season of the mun2 show From Beyond, which is all about the paranormal, a subject that's big in the Hispanic community.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my husband [Jack Rico, who runs the Latino-targeted movie website ShowBizCafe].
Favorite way to unwind: Go upstate to our house near New Paltz, N.Y., in the mountains -- we even have bears visit us.
My indulgence: Expensive, very high heels, usually Prada.
Can't get through my workday without: I get antsy when my BlackBerry battery gets low, so I walk around with an extra battery.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: I am "La Patrona," which is the name of one of our telenovelas. It means "The Boss."
McLoughlin, 50, oversees a portfolio that includes TMZ, Extra and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the latter of which is posting the highest ratings in the series' history. After a successful run this summer, Bethenny Frankel's self-titled talk show will join McLoughlin's crop next year.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I literally ran home every day at lunchtime in elementary school to watch game shows.
Who gave me my first big break: The late, great [TMZ co-creator] Jim Paratore, who would say that he "saved me" from research.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Not bringing back Anderson Cooper's talk show for a third season, even though the stations wanted to renew it.
Proudest moment this year: Getting very high grades on our employee survey, which is a testament to our amazing Telepictures team, and having our best season ever on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in our 10th season.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my [17-year-old] daughter, husband and two dachshunds, Ollie and Henry.
Favorite way to unwind: Playing tennis and walking on the beach in Malibu.
My indulgence: Buying a few pairs of really expensive shoes.
She oversees North American television distribution of movies and TV shows across broadcast syndication, electronic home video, VOD, pay TV, basic cable, online and other digital platforms. Marinelli also played a key role this year in the choice of Michael Strahan to replace Regis Philbin in the chair next to Kelly Ripa and oversaw the launch of Katie Couric's syndicated talk show. She broke ground with a Netflix deal for exclusive streaming rights to ABC series, including Once Upon a Time and Scandal. She also helped add to the megasuccess of The Avengers, making it the top electronic video release in Disney history.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was in college st St. John's and being taught by an adjunct professor, Marty Mills. He was working at Lorimar at the time, and he had the ratings of the TV shows, and it was like, "Oh, my God." He gave us real-time information. It wasn't from a textbook.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Put 100 percent of my focus on my family. My kids are now 20, 18 and 15.
Favorite way to unwind: Go to a sporting event. I'm a huge New York Giants and Yankees fan; locally, USC.
My indulgence: Cooking. I've been known to get up and make sauce at 4 a.m.
Totally starstruck around: Professional athletes. I was starstruck when I met Michael Strahan. He is this big teddy bear; so gentle, kind and charismatic.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Never compromise your values."
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: Anywhere they see a Disney movie other than in a theater or on Blu-ray/DVD, we've sold it.
Proudest accomplishment this year: How this team pulled out all the stops and launched Katie Couric's talk show.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: My 15-year-old son has me glued to Deadliest Catch.
She oversees international licensing of 20th Century Fox movies and TV shows, including free and pay TV, first-run series and digital. In 2012, her division saw revenue rise to its highest levels.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I went to the movies all the time growing up in Pocatello, Idaho. There wasn't a lot going on, so they were my windows to the world.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my husband and French bulldog. He's sort of like a bowling ball with legs.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Work in my garden.
Most surprising song on my iPod: The music from the documentary Searching for Sugar Man by Rodriguez.
Totally starstruck around: I spend much of my time trying to avoid contact with celebrities.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Get a life."
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: My daughter, after coming with me on Bring Your Daughter to Work Day: "Oh, now I know what you do. You yell at people on the phone."
It's been a huge year for London-based Broccoli, 52, who presided over production of the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall, which had grossed $797 million worldwide as of Nov. 28, making it the most successful 007 flick of all time (not accounting for inflation). Bond is a family business for Broccoli, whose father, Albert, was the longtime producer of the spy thrillers. She now co-produces the films with her half-brother, Michael G. Wilson.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Go to sleep. When you're based in London, you get up early and are shooting all day, and then L.A. starts phoning you.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Reading the Sunday papers with a big pot of coffee.
Most surprising song on my iPod: Adele, but is that surprising?
Proudest moment this year: On the 50th anniversary [of the release of the first Bond movie] on Oct. 5, we did a charity auction in London at Sotheby's and raised a couple million dollars for UNICEF and a couple of other charities.
Totally starstruck around: People in public service.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Don't be ruled by fear."
Best advice I've gotten: From my father: "Don't let temporary people make permanent decisions."
Top three shows on my DVR: Homeland, Breaking Bad and Meet the Press.
After a precipitous ratings decline and a reorganization that saw several execs exit Nickelodeon, the network is beginning to recover. According to Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser, Nickelodeon's U.S. operations bring in $900 million in ad revenue, a significant portion of Viacom's $5 billion global ad revenue. Zarghami, 49, whose portfolio includes Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., TeenNick and Nicktoons, has greenlighted 10 new series for fall 2013. And the network's reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is averaging 3.2 million viewers, making it the top-rated program in its Saturday morning slot.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: After I'd been at Nickelodeon for two years and finally learned the science behind programming a schedule.
Who gave me my first big break: [Former head of MTV Networks] Judy McGrath really believed in me.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: To reorganize a team that had brought us so much success for so many years.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my husband, George, and sons Liam, 16, Ethan, 10, and Wyatt, 6.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: A good wrestling match with my three sons -- all at once -- usually calms me down.
My indulgence: Another night with Edward and Bella.
Can't get through my workday without: Starbucks, and at least 45 minutes studying the ratings charts.
Most surprising song you might find on my iPhone: "Clique" by Kanye.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: "I make SpongeBob."
As head of international television distribution at NBCUniversal since March 2011, she oversees free, pay TV and new-media licensing of films and TV shows. She manages 15 sales offices and has oversight of branded TV channels (including Universal, Syfy and Style) in 176 territories. She grew the businesses this year (NBCU international TV revenue was an estimated $3.7 billion last year) despite the Euro zone crisis by expanding in Latin America and Asia, especially China, and working with new entrants throughout the world.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Making the move from Los Angeles to London. Although I'm a London native, I have very deep roots in L.A. and raised my two kids there. My closest friends are in L.A., and that is where my career really took off. It was difficult leaving the team I worked with so closely over the years.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Cooking. I do a lot of roast dishes, like chicken, duck and venison.
My indulgence: Chocolate.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Enjoy every moment."
Proudest moment this year: Watching my daughter graduate from Wesleyan.
Top three shows on my DVR: Homeland, Downton Abbey, Girls.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Every one of the Real Housewives shows. I can't commit to just one city.
The producer is responsible for one of Hollywood's hottest new franchises, The Hunger Games. The Lionsgate film, released in the spring, was a global goliath, taking in nearly $690 million (No. 7 for the year). After being unceremoniously fired as president of Disney's film division -- her partner had just delivered their third child when she got the call -- Jacobson, 47, formed her production company and began scouting for projects. She set up the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series at 20th Century Fox before nabbing the rights to Suzanne Collins' young-adult novel The Hunger Games. There are three more movies to go (the third book is being split into two films). The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens in theaters Nov. 22, 2013.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I started film theory at Brown, and all I wanted to do was watch movies. I felt as excited as I ever did when I sat down in a movie theater.
Who gave me my first big break: Producer Lauren Shuler Donner. She agreed to meet me when I graduated from Brown and hired me to do free-lance research. Her office also let me know what jobs were becoming available at other companies, and I got a job with Joel Silver in 1987.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Figuring out how to reload Hunger Games when Gary Ross left as director and make sure we chose the right person. It has turned out to be the right call to bring on Francis Lawrence.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Go home and see my kids, who are 14, 12 and 6.
My indulgence: I'm a binge television-watcher. I'll watch an entire series on my iPad.
Can't get through my workday without: Playing word games.
Most surprising song on my iPod: The soundtrack to Pitch Perfect.
Proudest moment this year The release of The Hunger Games.
Totally starstruck around Julie Andrews.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Don't lose your confidence when things don't go your way."
Worst advice I've ever gotten: Someone told me once, "You can't be a great mom and a kick-ass studio executive at the same time." Not true.
Top three shows on my DVR: Game of Thrones, Homeland and Sons of Anarchy. I'm also into Nashville.
The 26-year-old daughter of Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison quickly has become Hollywood's go-to film financier for tasteful projects. Annapurna likely has spent as much as $100 million on various films including four 2012 titles -- Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, John Hillcoat's Lawless, Brad Pitt mob movie Killing Them Softly, which opened in theaters Nov. 30, and Kathryn Bigelow's much-anticipated Zero Dark Thirty, which bows Dec. 19. (The Master, costing a reported $35 million, underperformed at the box office, grossing $17.2 million.) Ellison, who operates out of a compound of houses in the Hollywood Hills, exercises a strict no-press policy and declined to participate in this issue. (She is an avid tweeter, though.)
When a receptionist at Summit Entertainment buzzed Nancy Kirkpatrick in summer 2011 to say there were three Twi-hards outside who wanted a tour of the studio, she chuckled. Summit's cozy office building in Santa Monica hardly resembles a storied Hollywood lot in size and scope.
But Kirkpatrick, the company's president of worldwide marketing, had something in her office that trumped any movie or television set: the Carolina Herrera wedding dress worn by Bella Swan, played by Kristen Stewart, in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1. She invited the trio in, and together they marveled over the gown, made of crepe satin and French Chantilly lace with 152 tiny buttons down the back. Kirkpatrick also let them try on the Manolo Blahnik wedding shoes.
"When do you ever get to do something like that at a studio? It was so much fun," says Kirkpatrick. "And these aren't 17-year-old girls, these are women. They'd driven all the way from Nebraska."
From the inception of the Twilight franchise, Kirkpatrick's mantra in selling the property was to speak to fans of Stephenie Meyer's blockbuster book series as if they were friends. The strategy paid off in an enormous victory for Kirkpatrick and Summit: The five Twilight films have grossed north of $3.1 billion at the global box office. That includes more than $600 million earned to date by the final installment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2.
As the four-time Emmy winner, 42, gets ready to end her juggernaut NBC series in early 2013, she can look forward to life after 30 Rock; things got a lot sweeter in September when she signed a four-year deal with Universal Television to create and potentially star in projects. Speaking of acting, Fey, 42, also is set to appear in the feature comedy Admission alongside Paul Rudd, due in March. And she's co-hosting the Golden Globes with pal Amy Poehler in January.
Who gave me my first big break: Lorne Michaels. Everything I have, I owe to him, including $20.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: To ask NBC to end 30 Rock after a final season of 13 episodes. I will miss our crew a lot.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Fall asleep on my children.
My indulgence: I eat gold bricks.
Totally starstruck around: Local New York City news anchors I met, Pat Battle and Sue Simmons, y'all!
Best advice I've ever gotten: Make movies you yourself would actually want to see. Never cut funny.
Top three shows on my DVR: Chopped. The Barefoot Contessa. Saturday Night Live.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Actually, I'm not embarrassed to admit I cried watching the iCarly finale.
Globe is in overdrive these days as DreamWorks Animation manages the opening of Rise of the Guardians and the beginning of DWA's new distribution deal with 20th Century Fox (Guardians, which got off to a slow start over the Thanksgiving weekend, is the final film to be released by Paramount). Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted was a summer hit, grossing $740.5 million worldwide. Globe, 49, has been perfecting her marketing chops at DWA for seven years and is a confidante of boss Jeffrey Katzenberg. She's an avid moviegoer on weekends and is known for using her 11-year-old daughter as a litmus test. The studio business is a family affair -- her husband, Brad Globe, is president of worldwide consumer products at Warners.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I started doing the weather report on the local station in my hometown.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Watching the Buffalo Bills even when they don't win, which is most of the time.
Most surprising song on my iPod: "Boyfriend" by Justin Bieber. What can I say? I have an 11-year-old daughter.
Best advice I've ever gotten: Make your point succinctly. In other words, know when to stop talking.
With Oprah Winfrey's daytime talk show a distant memory, DeGeneres now is delivering her highest ratings ever in her 10th season on the air. The married comedian, 54, who claims about 15 million Twitter followers, continues to broaden her reach with best-selling books, primetime series in development and another daytime offering from Real Housewives star Bethenny Frankel.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: The first time I heard applause. It was from my mother. She was applauding for my brother Vance, but still.
Who gave me my first big break: Johnny Carson. All I had was a mullet and a dream when he invited me over to his couch.
Proudest moment this year: Hitting every green light on Moorpark between Coldwater and Cahuenga. And, winning the Mark Twain Award.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Honk at cute firemen.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Very personal. How dare you.
Can't get through my workday without: Admiring my butt in a mirror.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: The number of shows I watch. Too many to count.
In 2009, she made headlines when she was named to lead the largest theater circuit in the U.S. The exhibition business is notorious for being dominated by men, and Miles, 46, is the first woman other than Shari Redstone to lead a major circuit. She has become a keen negotiator in dealing with Hollywood studios. Regal, valued at $2.6 billion, had its highest first quarter this year, generating net income of $46.3 million, up from a $23.6 million loss in the 2011 period. Trained as an accountant, Miles has focused on payroll costs and making sure each theater is operating as efficiently as possible. She has spent her entire adult life in Knoxville, Tenn., where Regal is based.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I joined Regal in 1999 as CFO after working for one of the big accounting firms. I saw a lot of potential in the exhibition business for someone with strong financial experience.
Who gave me my first big break: [Former Regal CEO] Mike Campbell. He hired me as CFO.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my husband and talk to my boys, who are 21 and 19. I often joke that it's male-centric wherever I go -- even my dog is a guy.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Exercise. I run and do other cardio to keep my sanity. Also, I have two sisters I keep in touch with a lot. My indulgence Chardonnay.
Can't get through my workday without: My iPhone.
Most surprising songs on my iPod: The sheer number of Michael Jackson songs.
Proudest accomplishment this year: All that Regal has accomplished.
Totally starstruck around: Hugh Jackman. I met him when Regal had a premiere for Real Steel in Knoxville.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: It's never as good as it seems, and it's never as bad as it seems.
Embarrassed to admit that I watch: I'm a big fan of Dumb & Dumber. What can I say? I have the humor of a 15-year-old boy.
If there's a moment when Bela Bajaria's south Asian ancestry reveals itself as an anomaly among Hollywood elite, it's when competition to stand out from the masses is at its fiercest: on the red carpet.
"My first year at the Emmys many years ago, I wore a dress -- this was before Slumdog Millionaire and the Indian resurgence in pop culture -- and my husband asked, 'Why don't you just wear a sari like you do for other occasions?' " says Bajaria, 41, relaxing on a Friday in mid-October on a comfy couch inside her decorative office on the Universal lot.
"I was like, 'Of course!' Saris are so much easier," she says, dressed similarly for comfort today in a flowy gray-blue blouse and black skirt. "My friends can't eat for three days before the show, but I'm comfortable all night. I love my motherland representation in those moments -- and it makes my mom very happy."
Bajaria, Hollywood's highest-ranking Indian-American, has further distinguished herself in the 15 months since NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt recruited Bajaria from her near-16-year tenure at CBS -- where she oversaw cable and miniseries programming -- by positioning NBC's sister studio as a competitor in the bloody battle for hit series.
The only female showrunner with three dramas in primetime, Rhimes, 42, saw her flagship Grey’s Anatomy uncannily not waver in its ninth season, while her third series, the political soap Scandal, earned a full-season order of 22 episodes in taking over the set-to-end Private Practice’s former home on Thursdays at 10. Under her Shondaland shingle, Rhimes and Betsy Beers are overseeing a few new projects.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I was an extra in the Jodie Foster movie Little Man Tate during my summer break from college.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: How to end Private Practice in a strong narrative way.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: See my kids, have a glass of wine and get some sleep.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Talk on the phone to my friends so I can catch up with what is going on in the real world.
My indulgence: A wonderful chef. I like good, home-cooked food. But I haven’t personally turned on a stove in seven years.
Can’t get through my workday without: Iced green tea, my iPhone and really loud music blasting in my headphones so I can write.
Proudest moments this year: Bringing my newborn home and introducing her to her big sister. That and having three TV shows on the air that I created.
Best advice I’ve ever gotten: “Never enter a negotiation you’re not willing to walk away from.”
The Help -- a project that Bario, 45, championed and nurtured -- earned four Oscar nominations and a win for Octavia Spencer as supporting actress. After former DreamWorks co-president of production Mark Sourian segued into producing in May, Bario’s stock rose, with the onetime Universal Pictures assistant taking the reins of the company’s slate. After shepherding Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, she’s overseeing the Vince Vaughn comedy Delivery Man and the adaptation of the video-game franchise Need for Speed, starring Aaron Paul.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I saw Jaws in 1977. I was 10. It was shot on Martha’s Vineyard, where I grew up. I thought, “I could do that.”
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Pinterest, the newest time-suck of the century. If you thought Facebook was a rabbit hole ...
My indulgence: I get my hair blown out a lot.
Most surprising song on my iPod: Michael Buble’s “Haven’t Met You Yet.” I play it on a loop.
Totally starstruck around: Everyone. I have no problem telling people I work with that are famous, “I’m going to stalk you and ask for your autograph, so let’s just get that out of the way.”
What I’d tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: “Have more fun with it.”
Embarrassed to admit I watch: One Life to Live, but sadly, it was canceled.
She’s the gatekeeper for the entire DC brand, which includes films like The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion in worldwide grosses) and such TV series as The CW’s new high-performing drama Arrow and various shows on Cartoon Network. Simply put, if you are a producer and you want to develop one of DC’s characters, you have to go through Nelson, 45. She also oversaw the relaunch of the entire line of DC Comics and created a plan for same-day digital comics on all platforms and partnering with Warner Bros. to develop new projects.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was living in San Francisco in 1989 and working in advertising.
Who gave me my first big break: [Former Warners execs] Mary Murphy Conlin and Sandy Reisenbach, my mentor when I was at Warners.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Hug my kids and my golden retrievers.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Read books. That’s my escape.
My indulgence: Chocolate chip cookies.
Can’t get through my workday without: Iced tea.
Most surprising music on my iPod: Everything recorded by Eminem.
Totally starstruck around: Roger Federer.
What I’d tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: “Figure out who you are as best you are able and hold to it despite the distractions and temptations.”
Embarrassed to admit I watch: The Newsroom, but I stick with it!
The 22-year-old Lawrence -- bursting on the scene two years ago with an Oscar nom for tiny indie drama Winter’s Bone -- can do more than open a movie or get one greenlighted: She can command an enviable $10 million salary for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which hits theaters in November 2013. In March, the first Hunger Games sealed her fate when it opened to $152.2 million, the fifth-best debut of all time, and ultimately grossed $686.5 million worldwide (she got paid a mere $500,000 for that film). And if her good fortune continues, she could soon end up collecting an Oscar nom for Silver Linings Playbook, a critical darling.
Stewart, 22, changed the Hollywood status quo when the Twilight franchise proved that females have as much clout as fanboys. The five films, including The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2, now in theaters, have grossed more than $3.1 billion worldwide to date. And, like Lawrence, she has greenlight power. Stewart’s other 2012 film, Snow White and the Huntsman, earned $400.3 million worldwide thanks in part to the support of her Twilight fans. She’s next in theaters in the Walter Salles indie On the Road, which opens in select theaters Dec. 21.
Streep, 63, continues to be a huge box-office draw, with her 51 films earning north of $3.67 billion worldwide. She straddles the independent and studio worlds and is a frequent Oscar contender (though not this year). Her films can even overcome middling reviews and become awards darlings -- last year’s The Iron Lady grossed $114 million worldwide, a strong number for an independent historical biopic, and her performance as Margaret Thatcher earned her the Academy Award for best actress. She recently wrapped production on John Wells’ August: Osage County, starring opposite Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor and Sam Shepard.
O’Connor, 43, joined the top-rated Spanish-language media company in 2008 and was charged with leading Univision through its first-ever retransmission consent negotiations for its two broadcast networks -- as well as for its recently launched suite of cable and digital network, UVideos. She’s not bilingual, but she is the highest-ranking woman at Univision -- which commands 59 percent of the Spanish-speaking audience -- and reports directly to president and CEO Randy Falco. “When I first came to the company five years ago, it was all about retransmission consent,” says the married mother of three. “Now it’s about something that’s much bigger than that.”
Who gave me my first big break: Jeff Shell, CEO of Gemstar/TV Guide. He helped me realize my potential by putting me in my first leadership role overseeing distribution in 2005.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Choosing between our quarterly board meeting and my daughter’s kindergarten graduation. I chose the latter.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: I commute from Summit, N.J., into the city, and on my way home I’m always excited to get on the train and fire up my iPad and read The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. I read all the trade magazines -- The Hollywood Reporter, of course. I also like design magazines Elle Decor and Traditional Home.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: We like hiking out at our house in Elk Mountain, Pa.
Can’t get through my workday without: Texting my nanny, kids and husband. And just to be clear, I do not text with my 5-year-old.
Proudest moment this year: Launching four new services that super-service the Hispanic consumer this year: Univision Telenovelas, Univision Deportes, Univision Noticias and UVideos.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: It’s my job to make sure our networks are on your cable and satellite lineup. But my dad will be like, “So did you sell any ads today?”
Sheindlin (aka Judge Judy), 70, has been the queen of daytime for three seasons running -- a most honorable distinction that comes with averaging 9 million viewers a day and accounts for her hefty paycheck ($45 million per year). “Not bad,” muses the onetime juvie judge who spends a mere 52 days a year in the studio hearing 10 cases a day. She signed a new contract that will keep her on the show through 2015 and launched the website WhatWouldJudySay.com.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I spent 25 years in the family court, and I thought, “TV could be a new adventure.” Larry Lyttle, who was then president of Big Ticket Pictures, gave me the opportunity to try my craft at television.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Whether to dabble with the Internet and start a website.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Take my shoes off.
Favorite way to unwind: Work out and go to the movies.
My indulgence: Toasted scooped-out bagel with Nova Scotia salmon, tomato and red onion, two or three times a week.
Can’t get through my workday without: A game of gin rummy in my dressing room.
Most surprising music in my CD collection: A lot of country.
My proudest moments this year: To celebrate two weddings (my children), an engagement (a grandson) and a bar mitzvah (a grandson).
Top three shows I watch: Law & Order, Modern Family andDamages. But it has to be over by 10 o’clock. By then I am fast asleep.
Jacobs is widely considered the most powerful female agent for a reason: Her A-list clients include Johnny Depp, Harrison Ford and Gwyneth Paltrow, among many others. She’s also known for her keen ability to spot and market rising talent, like SNL’s Kristen Wiig, who made her big-screen debut in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up and went on to co-write and star in Bridesmaids (and earn an Oscar nomination for screenwriting). Jacobs, 54, also reps hot filmmakers such as Mike White, who made a smooth transition back to TV with HBO’s Enlightened.
Who gave me my first big break: [ICM co-founder] Sam Cohn.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Go home to my sanctuary.
My indulgence: Buying art.
Can’t get through my workday without: Teuscher chocolate caramels.
Proudest moment this year: I helped save The Lone Ranger.
Top shows on my DVR: Boardwalk Empire, HBO documentaries,Mad Men, Breaking Bad.
Worst advice I’ve ever gotten: “Lie.”
With hundreds of documentary films under her belt at HBO, Nevins, 73, is considered one of the most influential people in documentary film -- ever. Her productions have been recognized with 47 Emmy Awards and 21 Academy Awards. Some of the films gaining attention this year include Matthew Akers’ Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, Liz Garbus’ Love Marilyn, Alex Gibney’s Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God and Rory Kennedy’s Ethel.
Who gave me my first big break: Myself. I didn’t get breaks. I just plowed through.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Come back the next day.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Screen other people’s documentaries. I don’t garden. I just want to make that clear.
My indulgence: Getting my hair blown dry more often than I should.
Can’t get through my workday without: Feeling grateful. I’m happy to be in a place I want to be and doing what I want to do.
What I’d tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: “Don’t take crap.”
Top three shows on my DVR: Homeland, Boardwalk Empire and Downton Abbey.
Worst advice I’ve ever gotten: “Dress like a man at work so they’ll accept you.”
She was part of the team that landed hitmaking powerhouse J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company, currently in post on Star Trek: Into Darkness and on NBC’s new drama Revolution, all while continuing to shepherd directors like Skyfall’s Sam Mendes, Shame’s Steve McQueen and Avatar’s James Cameron.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I kept going back to see The Empire Strikes Back.
Who gave me my first big break: Judy Scott-Fox, the fabulous agent who trained me.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: To realize I cannot do everything I want, because to do too much means to do some of it half-heartedly.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Talk to someone whose point of view on life makes me think in a different way.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Walk around and see art in whatever place I happen to be.
Proudest moment this year: I just saw films by several clients, which are wonderful. And I did my part to ensure they stuck with the films when they could have easily fallen apart, so I’m very happy for all of us that the results are truly great.
Totally starstruck around: Great thinkers.
What I’d tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: “Trust your instincts more.” I wasted a lot of time and energy doing what I thought I was supposed to do rather than what felt right to me.
Worst advice I’ve ever gotten: Buy stock instead of art.
Picture the front row of a typical Academy Awards ceremony, and there’s sure to be at least one Queally client sitting pretty. The Ireland native, 51, handles such Oscar-bait imports as Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Williams and Jessica Chastain as well as Matthias Schoenaerts, Guillaume Canet, Melanie Laurent, James Marsh and Rose Byrne. She helped Blanchett land roles in two Terrence Malick films (Knight of Cups and an untitled project) and one for Woody Allen and guided Chastain into the coveted female lead in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I realized there actually was a business. I started my own agency in Ireland at age 22.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Kiss whomever is at home. Then I take off the high heels and put on the pajama bottoms.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Hike with the family. I love the outdoors. I’m a farm girl.
Most surprising song on my iPod: “Legs” by ZZ Top.
Totally starstruck around: [The late] Paul Newman.
Best advice I’ve ever gotten: “Be respectful. Assistants can become leaders of studios some day.”
Top three shows on my DVR: Master Chef, Antiques Roadshow (the British version) and anything on the Travel Channel.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Storage Wars.
Berman continues to expand her 21st century media company (with co-founder Lloyd Braun) as its celebrity news site, Wonderwall, reached its latest milestone when it garnered 1 billion monthly views. Berman, 56, and Braun this past spring also added the motherhood site Mom.me, the male-focused Mandatory and the pet-centric PawNation to a lucrative portfolio. The former network chiefs also will roll out soapy thriller Deception on NBC in 2013.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: It was so much easier to answer this question last year because I would have said, “Be with my kids.” But I’m an empty-nester now, so now I can’t wait to have a glass of wine!
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: My husband, Will, and I have an early dinner and go to the movies, or drive up to Santa Barbara.
My indulgence: I always have a good handbag.
Can’t get through my day without: My assistant, Rob.
What I’d tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: “It’s all going to be OK.”
Best advice I’ve ever gotten: From my mentor Peter Chernin, when I went to Fox Broadcasting as president: “You have a bigger problem than poor ratings; you’ve got poor morale. Staff morale is the first thing you need to work on. That will affect everything else.” And it was true.
Pope is the highest-ranking woman at Chernin, which has emerged as the go-to supplier to behemoth 20th Century TV. This year, Pope and Chernin earned renewals for New Girl and Kiefer Suthlerland’s Touch. The married mom, 40, continues to champion hip comedic voices with the Fox comedy Ben and Kate and to develop projects with the likes of Zooey Deschanel, John Legend, Kay Cannon and Russell Brand.
Who gave me my big break: I applied to the NBC Associates program and didn’t really know anyone or how to get into the business at all. Had NBC not just revived that program, I’m not sure what I would have done. The person who ultimately said yes was Ted Harbert.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Go to sleep and wake up the following morning and see my son (21 months) and daughter (8). A lot of times they’re not awake when I get home.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Keep it really unscheduled, though I do like to hit the farmers’ market. My indulgence: White wine aside, which I don’t even see as an indulgence — it’s a part of life — what I like on weekends is to read a novel that has nothing to do with work.
Can’t get through my workday without: Coffee, “Greens 1” from Pressed Juicery, and my BlackBerry and iPhone.
Most surprising music on my iPod: I have a secret love for Christmas carols. People are surprised about this because I’m a cynical person.
Her A-list movie-star clients — who include Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Amy Adams — and The Good Wife’s Emmy winner Julianna Margulies put her at the center of most movie and TV conversations. And a year into her collaboration with Thor and War Horse actor Tom Hiddleston, he co-starred in the third-highest-grossing film of all time, The Avengers.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was in law school at Southwestern and working in the legal department at Triad Artists, which was bought by William Morris. Any time I had to go up to the 15th floor to drop off a contract, I’d walk through the lobby, and it was electrifying. I’d see Brad Pitt or George Clooney. Then I’d return to the file room and think, “Oh, no.” I ended up dropping out of law school.
What I’d tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: “Stay in law school.” It’s imperative to be well-rounded.
Proudest moment this year: My client Paula Pell has been a writer on SNL for close to 20 years. I told her, “You need to write screenplays.” She sold a pitch to Universal with Tina Fey and has written three movies with Judd Apatow. I’m incredibly proud of her.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Reading the Sunday New York Times, cover to cover. I just want everyone to go away. I’m old-school — I wanna touch it and feel it.
Executive vp and general counsel, Universal Studios
She oversees $7 billion a year in operations for a studio and theme parks business. Her specialty is antipiracy matters, which landed her amid the SOPA debate. She also put out several legal fires, including convincing the makers of a copycat Battleship movie to desist.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was a junior associate in the early 1980s and working real estate cases. I was bored to death.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Get home to the Marina peninsula.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: I protect movies.
Top three shows on my DVR: Homeland, Revolution and Meet the Press.
My indulgence: Wheat Thins.
Executive vp and general counsel, Showtime
Showtime’s top lawyer has ridden the network’s Homeland-fueled streak to greater industry prominence. A 28-year veteran, Marcus, 56, also had a seat at the table for distribution deals with DirecTV, Cablevision and AT&T, which went smoothly — notable when ugly carriage disputes often spill into the headlines.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: What to wear to the Tony Awards.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Veg out in front of MSNBC.
My indulgence: Semisweet chocolate morsels right out of the bag.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Property Virgins on HGTV.
Executive vp and general counsel, Paramount
Paramount’s top lawyer, 58, was crucial to DreamWorks Animation’s transition to Fox. She won a giant suit over rights to The Godfather.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I walked on the Paramount lot. That was 1996.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: See my husband and have a nice dinner. We’ve been married 19 years.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: We go to Joshua Tree or Yosemite.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Chelsea Lately.
Executive vp and general counsel, Fox Networks Group
Tuzon, 53, protects billions in News Corp. assets, putting her on the front line of Fox’s legal war against Dish’s AutoHop commercial-skipper and its battle to win more retransmission consent fees from TV distributors. She’s also knee-deep in Fox’s proposed mega-deal to carry Los Angeles Dodgers games, which could be worth more than $6 billion when closed.
Proudest accomplishment this year: The long-term deal with Major League Baseball.
My indulgence: Never staying in a crappy hotel, even if I’m paying
Can’t get through my workday without: Starbucks — seven pumps of chai tea latte.
Top three shows on my DVR: New Girl, Modern Family and Justified.
Senior executive vp and general counsel, Sony Pictures
Weil, 52, wrangles the team that protects Sony Pictures’ $8 billion-plus in annual revenue. She’s basking in the success of Skyfall — which, thanks to a dizzyingly complicated distribution and co-financing deal with MGM and the Broccoli family, hit screens with a Sony logo.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: I can’t talk about that, I’m a lawyer!
Proudest moment this year: Watching my groups pull off a public art project that was spearheaded by my government affairs team.
Worst advice I’ve ever gotten: “Keep your head down.”
Favorite way to unwind: Watching the San Francisco Giants.
Executive vp business operations, CBS Network TV Entertainment Group
Barak, 55, supervises all talent negotiations, producer deals and licensing fees for CBS, which this year included renewing Ashton Kutcher’s deal on Two and a Half Men and huge renewals for the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Kennedy Center Honors.
Who gave me my big break: Nancy Tellem, who hired me at CBS 27 years ago.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Do yoga. It’s the best for stress relief and bad backs.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Hike with friends.
My indulgence: A glass of wine with dinner.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: I can get you tickets to anything.
Top three shows on my DVR: The Good Wife, Homeland, Modern Family.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Too much news!
Executive vp business and legal affairs, Walt Disney Studios
By shepherding the negotiations for Disney's two biggest 2013 movies, Oz: The Great and Powerful and Johnny Depp's The Lone Ranger, Brandis, 59, married with two teenagers, has proved the master of the megadeal.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: How much to pay the highest-paid talent in a bad economy.
Proudest moment this year: Getting a modestly budgeted movie, Saving Mr. Banks, put together with a remarkable cast: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Paul Giamatti. It doesn’t get much better than Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney on the Disney lot.
Best advice I’ve ever gotten: “Tell it straight, say it straight.”
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: My children used to think my job was bringing them home DVDs.
When I leave work: I hope that at least one of my children still living at home is willing to have dinner with me.
My indulgence: Buying boots.
Can’t get through my workday without: Coffee and reality checks with my team.
Most surprising songs on my iPod: Akon and Ne-Yo. My son slips them all in there.
Executive vp business affairs, NBCU Cable Entertainment, and COO, Universal Cable Productions
After 15 years at the company, Roberts, 54, wears two hats that allow her to oversee business affairs for NBCU’s cable channels (USA Network, Syfy, Bravo and E!) and work closely with Bonnie Hammer to define the company’s studio division.
Proudest moment this year: In August, I traveled to Toronto and visited the sets of all the shows we produce there. It was amazing after looking at budgets for so long to see all this come to life.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Trying to figure out what to wear to the Emmys.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Get into comfortable shoes.
My indulgence: Taking all of my vacation days.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: I get deals done so you’re not watching color bars on the television.
Executive vp business affairs and administration, ABC Entertainment Group
Winograde, 48, was key to reaching a deal in the Modern Family cast renegotiations. She also worked on Jimmy Kimmel’s contract extension when his show moved to 11:35 p.m. and made the deal for the Nashville soundtrack that churned out four hits before the show debuted.
Who gave me my big break: [The CW chief] Mark Pedowitz, who hired me as a director of business affairs at ABC.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: On the soccer field.
My indulgence: Home decorating.
Most surprising song on my iPod: “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.
Totally starstruck around: Diablo Cody.
Proudest accomplishment this year: We made our budgets despite a number of fiscal challenges.
Cook is known for pushing herself to the limit, whether it’s doing triathlons, heli-skiing or bicycling 60 miles in a charity race. Similarly, in her career Cook — married for 27 years with a daughter, 24, and son, 20 — has scaled daunting heights, becoming the first female partner at the powerhouse law firm and signing new clients like Carey Mulligan to add to her A-list roster, which includes Tim Burton, Scott Rudin andKeanu Reeves. She occasionally gets bruised, like when she fell face-first during the bike race, but manages to connect it back to her work. “I looked like the Bride of Frankenstein!” she says.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: In law school, I learned there was a specialty of law that allowed me to represent artists.
Best advice I’ve ever gotten: From my father, Judge James Cook, who told me to work hard and always tell the truth. Also, federal court Judge Harry Pregerson told me to build a practice of my own clients.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Paddleboarding, riding my bike and catching the sunset at our house in Hermosa Beach.
Once known most prominently for her cutting-edge work on behalf of reality television producers including Endemol, Shine and Talpa, Newman also has become a formidable player representing talent in scripted programming thanks to her handling of Matthew Weiner’s $30 million Mad Men renegotiation. Newman also owns the Jorian Hill Vineyards winery in the Santa Ynez Valley with her husband, Gary, who is chairman at 20th Century Fox Television.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I got to [USC] law school and realized that entertainment was the only practice area that didn’t bore me to tears.
Who gave me my first big break: [Director] David Lynch — he was a client of the firm, and I was a young lawyer assigned to do his low-level work. He decided to produce Twin Peaks as an independent TV series for ABC. Somehow he trusted me to be the day-to-day lawyer on the show.
Can’t get through my workday without: The brilliant and beautiful women who work with me. Somehow I am lucky to work with three other female lawyers and two female paralegals!
Most curious advice I’ve ever gotten: “Be an agent.” You can figure out if that was the best or the worst.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello at 5:30 a.m.
At a time when celebrity news and gossip is ubiquitous and commoditized, Blue’s flagship broadcast, Entertainment Tonight, continues to set the standard for infotainment TV. In its 32nd season — ET marked its 8,000th episode in May — it has remained the top-rated syndicated program for 86 consecutive sweep periods thanks to major gets like host Nancy O’Dell’s Nov. 1 exclusive sitdown with reunited real-life couple Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson of Twilight. “ET has never, ever lost that leadership position,” says Blue, 56. And on Jan. 7, The Insider will flick the switch on the rebranded omg! Insider, an online and on-air collaboration with Yahoo’s popular omg! entertainment news site.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was in high school, and I was watching Mary Tyler Moore and wondering, “How do you get your name on those credits at the end?” That’s when I knew.
When I leave work, I can’t wait to: Go to hot yoga.
My indulgence: Bread. It’s the worst thing in the world to eat. But I love it.
Can’t get through my workday without: Iced tea. I should have an IV with iced tea in it.
Proudest moment this year: When I convinced will.i.am to re-orchestrate our theme song. He was very reverent about ET; he used to watch it with his mother when he was growing up.
What I’d tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: “This is a very mean town full of opportunity and failure. And you’ve got to work harder than anybody else.”
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: I get up at 4 o’clock in the morning. Yes, I do get to go the Oscars and the Grammys and the Emmys. But what I do every day is most unglamorous.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. It is my husband’s favorite show.
Pett has an eye for up-and-comers. The veteran talent manager has guided Brad Pitt’s and Courteney Cox’s careers from the very beginning. The 50-year-old is adept at maneuvering clients from TV to movies and back again. The next generation of Pett proteges: Elizabeth Olsen, who is shooting Oldboy with Josh Brolin; Garrett Hedlund, who next appears in On the Road; and Bono’s daughter Eve Hewson, who stars opposite Sean Penn in This Must Be the Place.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: Right after college, I took a job as a receptionist at PMK and fell in love with the energy of the business, the people, the creativity. I knew then that working in entertainment was something I would enjoy doing.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Which schools my 11-year-old son is going to apply to for seventh grade.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Have dinner and relax with my [two] kids and be greeted by my dogs.
Most surprising song on my iPod: Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”
Proudest moment this year: When I looked around my 50th birthday party and was surrounded by friends, some of whom I’ve known for more than 25 years.
Best advice I’ve ever gotten: “No need to bullshit.” If your client or colleague doesn’t appreciate your honesty, then you shouldn’t be working together.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: I work with actors and directors and help get them jobs ... don’t make me explain it again.
Top three shows on my DVR: Sons of Anarchy, Cougar Town and Modern Family.
Lewis’ intelligence and good taste make Searchlight a must-stop for auteurs. Last year, Searchlight’s The Descendants was a critical hit that grossed more than $177 million worldwide. This year, Lewis, 56, is especially proud of three emerging filmmakers: Sacha Gervasi, who shot the $16 million Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren; Korean director Chan-wook Park, who made his English-language debut with the Nicole Kidman horror film Stoker; and Zal Batmanglij, who helmed 2013’s The East, with Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard.
Who gave me my first big break: Cary Brokaw at Avenue Pictures, for whom I wrote freelance script coverage while attending UCLA’s graduate film school. He subsequently hired me as a junior executive, and I got to work on Drugstore Cowboy, a film I had passionately advocated for as a reader.
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: Have a fortifying glass of crisp Italian white wine.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Pilates, swimming, reading in bed and Academy film screenings. Nothing beats the big screen with superlative sound.
Proudest moment this year: I was able to promote my last two assistants, Erin Hagerty and Taylor Friedman, and see them work on their first films as junior executives.
Best advice I’ve ever gotten: When I was a kid getting nervous about an upcoming spelling bee, a teacher said, “You can only do as good as you can do.” Perhaps not the best grammar on her part.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: “Don’t overthink it. Just go see Searchlight’s movies.”
The first — and longest-serving — woman to head sales for a major broadcaster, Ross, 59, again led her top-rated network to the highest advertising rate increases in the industry during this year’s upfront sales of about $2.75 billion. CBS scored CPM increases of up to 15 percent — no other network exceeded 12 percent. Heading toward a sold-out Super Bowl, CBS ramped up sports sales, including those for the AFC playoffs and NCAA basketball, with Turner Sports.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I interviewed at Bozell + Jacobs in the early 1980s with a gentleman who unfortunately is no longer with us, Paul Wigand, and his office was really busy. There was so much energy.
My indulgence: Either a martini or a Manhattan on the weekends.
Totally starstruck around: LL Cool J. He’s one of our stars, and I love him!
What I’d tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: “Don’t believe your own press.”
Best advice I’ve ever gotten: “Don’t forget whence you came.”
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: “I bring in some money for the company.”
Proudest moment this year: When Leslie Moonves gave me my award at the Service Award Dinner to commemorate 20 years at the company.
Top three shows on my DVR: The Good Wife, The Amazing Race and Homeland.
Overseeing development and production of SPA’s entire slate, Kouyate saw Hotel Transylvania become the top-grossing movie in the unit’s 10-year history, collecting more than $291 million worldwide. Kouyate, 44, has The Smurfs 2 and the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs sequel (due in 2014) in production. Before Sony, Kouyate was senior vp development and production at Miramax, where she helped develop Silver Linings Playbook.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: After I graduated [St. John’s University in New York] and was working for a satellite communications company. They had a small TV studio, and I fell in love with the idea of TV. Later, when I met someone who was a second A.D. on a movie, they asked me, “Do you think you’d want to work on a movie set?” When I got there, it was just an instinct thing.
Who gave me my first big break: Paul Webster at Miramax Films. After I graduated USC film school, he gave me my first assistant job.
Proudest moment this year: Opening weekend of Hotel Transylvania.
Totally starstruck around: Sir Paul McCartney.
My indulgence: Reading for pleasure.
Top three shows on my DVR: Breaking Bad, Modern Family and The Voice.
After more than 30 years in TV news, Couric’s segue to daytime has produced the most-watched talk-show premiere in a decade (since Dr. Phil) — even if it has come down to earth since — several big gets (Barbra Streisand, EL James and the first interview with flesh-eating-disease survivor Aimee Copeland) and an opportunity to showcase her sense of humor (not something she could reveal behind the desk at CBS Evening News). Soon she’ll also be getting a new producer as longtime collaborator and Katie executive producer Jeff Zucker departs to take the reins at CNN. Couric, 55, pronounced herself “very excited” for Zucker while noting that she’s looking to build “on the strong foundation we’ve created.”
Moment I knew I wanted to work in journalism: I was working at ABC News as the desk assistant at the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis. I realized it was a profession that not only had a tremendous amount of responsibility, but you felt like you were at the epicenter of world events.
Who gave me my first big break: CNN asked me to move to Atlanta and be an associate producer on the daytime show Take Two. Don Farmer remembered me from ABC News, where he was at 20/20 as a correspondent. He knew I wanted to report, so he let me and critiqued my work. If Don hadn’t let me try my hand at on-camera work, I don’t think it ever would’ve happened.
Toughest decision I had to make: Whether to go on hormone replacement therapy.
My indulgence: Dark chocolate. Someone told me it has antioxidants. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I’m going with it.
Most surprising song on my iPhone: My ringtone is LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” It’s a joke.
Proudest moment this year: My daughter got back a paper about Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and their views of the afterlife. The teacher wrote, “Bravo.”
When my family is confused about what I do, I tell them: They’re obviously not watching my show.
Since she was named to head the 6,000-member Academy in 2011, Hudson, 56, has brought about changes in policy, strategy and staffing — the nonprofit has about 300 employers — as she works to to make the tradition-bound organization more diverse. She cites as the greatest accomplishment of her first year reaching the first $100 million in a $250 million fundraising campaign for a new museum, slated to open in 2016 on the L.A. County Museum of Art campus. She has overseen a move to online Oscar voting, added Q&A sessions to weekend screenings and grown educational programs.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I saw Juliet of the Spirits by Fellini when I was in college. It hit me that film could be art.
People who gave me my first big break: Carolyn Pfeiffer and Peter Broderick. They hired me as executive director of what was then called IFP West or Film Independent in 1991.
When I leave work, I can’t wait to: See my son. He’s 13, so he can wait to see me!
My indulgence: Pizza at Mozza.
Totally starstruck around: Sandy Koufax.
What I’d tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: “There are more ways of expressing yourself in this industry than you can possibly imagine.”
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: My relatives are not confused. They just want to know if they can come to the Oscars.
Press was one of the most sought-after marketing consultants in the film business before Leslie Moonves named her co-president of CBS Films in April. The 52-year-old worked on the campaign for Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games, which grossed $687 million worldwide, and is consulting on Lincoln, a gig that reteams her with Steven Spielberg (Press once ran marketing at DreamWorks). She also consulted for CBS Films before getting the gig and was instrumental in the acquisition of The Woman in Black, which became a modest hit with $54 million in domestic ticket sales.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I never wanted to work in the business. I wanted to be a film critic. But since I could actually write, I got hired at Disney as a staff writer. When you can put together a coherent sentence, you can be employed!
When I leave work each day, I can’t wait to: See my husband and my 13-year-old twins.
My indulgence: Going to Target.
Proudest moment this year: When my children brought their grades up. A distant second was the opening of The Woman in Black.
Totally starstruck around: Sidney Poitier.
Best advice I’ve gotten: “Stay on David Geffen’s good side.”
Stern is the dealmaker at the helm of Lionsgate TV, where she has been integral in such shows as Nashville, Mad Men, Nurse Jackie and Charlie Sheen’s FX comedy Anger Management, which has been ordered for 100 episodes and has been sold into syndication.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I learned that there was a business. Growing up in New York, you don’t know there’s such a thing as the “TV business.” I moved to L.A., and I learned that that’s actually a job and that people can really do that for a living.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: Half of my relatives think I’m a producer, but they can’t figure out why I don’t get credit on any of the shows — they figure I’m a lousy producer. And the other half think I just watch TV all day.
Who gave me my first big break: The person who continues every day to give me a break: [Lionsgate CEO] Jon Feltheimer. I’ve been working for him since 1986.
Proudest moment this year: Anger Management.
Best advice I’ve ever gotten: It’s an old Yiddish expression from my father: “If three people tell you you’re drunk, lie down.” Sometimes you’re not always right.
My indulgence: There’s hardly any indulgence I don’t allow myself! But probably shoes.
Totally starstruck around: Shockingly, everyone. But the one person that I got tongue-tied around was Denzel Washington, whom I sat next to at a Lakers game.
The savvy marketing vet, 43, who in 2011 segued from an eight-year stint at the entertainment hub (overseeing marketing, news and online at E! and Style) into the top job at the network now owned by Comcast and NBCUniversal, knows how to execute a vision. Case in point: E!’s 2012 rebrand, an overhaul of the network’s aesthetic and architecture, from the feel of its digital properties to the look of its studios, offices and even news vans — all completed within just six months. It’s icing on a cake that already is filled with the ratings dominance of the Kardashians franchise; late-night game-changer Chelsea Lately, which is calling a new stage at Universal Studios home; and the freshman fan favorite Married to Jonas, which pulled in 1.8 million viewers for its premiere episode.
What I’d tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: “Relax. It’s not a sprint.” In the first 10 years of my career, it felt like a stopwatch was going, and when it stopped clicking, I had to take a seat — sort of like musical chairs.
Totally starstruck around: President Obama. I met him and Michelle at a campaign event, and while they’re lovely people, I was more starstruck by the thought of what he must do in a single day — and that in the midst of it all, he can turn it off and be gracious.
My indulgence: This may sound kind of blue-sky, but I have to be laughing. There needs to be laughter at the office, even if things are difficult. Because we are in entertainment, and if we’re not projecting being entertained ourselves, I’m not sure how we can be an escapist place for our audience.
Gregorian oversees marketing for the Warner Bros. TV empire, with a purview that includes nearly 60 scripted and unscripted live-action series for broadcast, cable and first-run syndication as well as animated programming and digital production (representing about half of the studio’s profits, which in 2011 were $1.3 billion). When it comes to signature campaigns, the native New Yorker likes to think big: For Comic-Con 2012, she launched The Big Bang Theory space-trip giveaway. The 49-year-old also took a page from the past by spearheading the creation of “Television: Out of the Box” at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. The multimedia exhibit, which will run for three years, spans the company’s six-decade history and features props, costumes and set pieces from Bugs Bunny to Big Bang.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was 10 and decided I wanted to produce shows in Vegas. I was a little bit off track.
Who gave me my first big break: [Warner Bros. International TV chief] Jeff Schlesinger is still my mentor. He’s also my son’s godfather.
Toughest decision I made this year: Encouraging my son, Rouben, to go to college out of state at American University in Washington, D.C.
My indulgence: A weekly massage.
Totally starstruck around: Amazing scientists, like world-renowned geneticist and anthropologist Dr. Spencer Wells.
Best advice I’ve ever gotten: Pick your boss, not your job.
Top three shows on my DVR: The Big Bang Theory, Homeland and The Vampire Diaries.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Dance Moms.
Howard, 68, has had two distinct but equally successful careers during her decades-long run in Hollywood: Her first was as a casting director, and after reaching the pinnacle with 1982's Tootsie, she spent the next 25 years rising through the talent agency ranks. Along the way, the married Howard has picked up as clients Hollywood veterans including Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine and Christopher Walken plus up-and-comers like Eric Stonestreet. "I embrace my age," she says. "Youth isn't all that it's cracked up to be."
Proudest moment this year: Watching Sam Jackson work on the set of Django Unchained.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Convincing a client to take work for little money. It's an ongoing challenge.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Playing video poker. Even though I am gambling with people's lives every day at work, I can't get enough of it.
When people are confused about what I do, I tell them: People refer to me as Debbie Downer, but I'm actually Rita Realistic.
Shaw is a Renaissance woman. When not at the office, she often can be spotted at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, at small stage plays or listening to jazz. The married mother of two most enjoys representing artists on the rise, such as director Ava DuVernay, who won the best director prize at Sundance for Middle of Nowhere. Shaw, 58, also is excited about client Jamie Foxx's lead role in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and client Arsenio Hall's return to late-night television.
Proudest moment this year: When Ava won at Sundance. It was so unexpected.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Saying no to more work. You realize that you could spend 24 hours a day doing this, but you need to find a good work-life balance.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: Growing up, I watched my uncle, who was in the advertising business in the '60s and '70s, become a real "mad man." He did groundbreaking work for interesting people like Aretha Franklin.
Most surprising song on my iPod: Depends what you consider surprising. I do have Nine Inch Nails -- someone sent it to me thinking I'd like it. So maybe that's not surprising.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Go your own path." Emulating others is just a waste of time because while you can take direction and be mentored, you'll only be successful if you're unique and original.
CAA's most senior female television agent's client list reads like a who's who of TV's most influential talents: Melissa McCarthy, Patricia Heaton and Revenge creator Mike Kelley, among others. A mother of two teen sons, she also has been instrumental in putting such shows on the air as CBS' Elementary, FX's upcoming The Americans and Matthew Perry's NBC sitcom Go On.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in this business: When I had an internship with producer Doug Wick my senior year at UCLA.
Who gave me my big break: Doug Wick. When I was an intern, he suggested I go work at a talent agency to figure out where my place in the business might be. I came to interview at CAA and have been here ever since. I started two days after I graduated, so he gets a lot of credit in my history.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Letting my 15-year-old son play football. Our older son, who is a senior in high school, is a baseball player. But our younger son, who started his freshman year in high school this year, has been begging us to let him play football since seventh grade. We finally let him, and he absolutely loves it. So it has turned out to be a good decision -- I'm knocking on wood.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: I spend a lot of time at the sports fields, as you could imagine, but I also love to unwind at the beach. I read and relax.
Can't get through my workday without: Taking a spin around the office and seeing friends.
What I would tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Find something you love and put your all into it, and that will lead to success."
Proudest accomplishment this year: The success of our television department. We have a great group of people, and we're the most successful television department in the business.
Representing some of the funniest guys in film (Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd, among them) along with respected auteurs (Mike Mills) and in-demand writers (Evan Goldberg, John Gatins), Kohan, 44, has developed a reputation as a nurturer of talent and a behind-the-scenes motivator (case in point: backing the passions of Rogen and Goldberg as they launched their own company). Kohan keeps another showbiz lifer close by: husband David Kohan -- a TV writer-producer who co-created the classic sitcom Will & Grace and, more recently, CBS' Partners -- with whom she shares a daughter who's "almost 4."
Proudest moment this year: Getting Flight off the ground -- no pun intended. I represent the writer, John Gatins, and have been hanging in there with him since at least 2007. It was a great script, and to see that movie come to fruition in the way that it did was incredibly satisfying.
When my family is confused about what I do, I tell them: "It's not Entourage!" That's the framework for them; they think what Ari Gold does is what I do. Unless you are around agents on a day-to-day basis, you just don't know. But my brother and sister and my parents and my in-laws --they get it now.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Gallery Girls. What's up with those girls? I just can't believe they exist. It's a total train wreck.
Most surprising songs on my iPod: "Gangnam Style" by Psy and "Novacane" by Frank Ocean.
It has been a very good year for Jackson's clients. Jonah Hill earned an Oscar nom for Moneyball and commercial success in MGM's 21 Jump Street. Will Arnett, star of NBC's Up All Night, also is shooting the Netflix reboot of Arrested Development. Emmy nominee Amy Poehler still is flying high on Parks and Recreation. Jackson's other star clients include Sacha Baron Cohen, Jack Black, Charlie Kaufman, John C. Reilly and Jason Segel.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I emerged from the womb with a primal urge to trade calls with Scott Rudin.
Who gave me my first big break: [WME agent] Elyse Scherz. She was being promoted to agent and let me take over for her as Marty Bauer's assistant.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Guided meditation.
Totally starstruck around: Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Never put anything in writing. Also, keep a diary."
Josephson, who grew up amid the business as the daughter of ICM founder Marvin Josephson, paved the way for Ricki Lake's return with her daytime talk show and has clients up and down the dial, including So You Think You Can Dance's Cat Deeley, Giuliana Rancic, Craig Ferguson and Tyra Banks, the latter of whom expanded into the publishing space with a three-book deal and young-adult series Modelland.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: Watching my dad work. He would bring clients home; I got to go to dinner with the group Chicago! I remember it being so surreal.
Who gave me my first big break: ICM's Sam Cohn. He worked with Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, E.L. Doctorow -- an amazing client list. He's the one who said I had to come work there, even though I was Marvin's daughter. He took me under his wing and taught me to represent people you're passionate about. I have an eclectic client list, and I got that from Sam.
When I leave work, I can't wait to: Get home to my family. I have one kid left at home and will sit with him for dinner … and then go out for another business dinner.
My indulgence: Great handbags. You can call it an addiction. I tend to splurge. I have that new Celine and love it.
Can't get through my workday without: My assistant, Ellen.
Most surprising song on my iPod: Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" is such a happy song. It's really more for 12-year-old girls, but whatever.
Proudest moment this year: All three of my children graduated: my son from Stanford, my daughter from high school, and my youngest son is now at Harvard-Westlake. And I managed to keep working the entire time.
Totally starstruck around: Mick Jagger and Bono. I'm insane for both.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: What I told my son, who's 22: "Always tell the truth. You'll never get in trouble."
Best advice I've ever gotten: From my dad, in a memo he wrote in 1973 that I have at my desk: "Always tell your clients what you're doing for them."
Lichter, 61, is queen attorney on the indie film scene, and nothing proved this more than the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. There, the mother of three grown children found herself with the good fortune of representing filmmakers behind arguably the three biggest breakout hits: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Arbitrage and The Queen of Versailles. Lichter also is active on behalf of Democratic causes.
When strangers are confused about what I do: I tell them I help artists get paid and stay protected.
My indulgence: I'm a fantastic eBay buyer of weird shit, like the Frank Gehry chair made from cardboard I just bought.
Can't get through my workday without: Checking blogs. During the election, I was obsessed with projections on 538, Princeton and Daily Kos.
Totally starstruck around: Bob Dylan, always my hero, and Rachel Maddow. And now Nate Silver -- he's my boyfriend.
Best advice I've ever gotten: Get to know people before you need them.
Since taking over as exec producer in 1985, the Boston-born Eaton has helped turn Masterpiece into one of the most honored franchises in TV history. Eaton, 65, is credited with introducing American audiences to British costume dramas, including The Forsyte Saga, Bleak House and the popular Downton Abbey, which has become a must-see in the U.S. and earned 16 Emmy noms in 2012 (and won three).
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I saw Audrey Hepburn in Love in the Afternoon.
Who gave me my first big break: Henry Becton. He hired me to be his production assistant on a TV show in Boston.
Toughest decision I had to make: Whether or not to write a book about my life at Masterpiece. I decided to do it.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Have a drink. I drink sherry, martinis or Manhattans.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Take naps, read novels, take walks, cook -- not talk.
My indulgence: Lots of massages.
Can't get through my workday without: A good laugh with my team.
Proudest moment this year: When I won three awards: from PBS and my alma maters, Polytechnic School in Pasadena and Vassar College.
Totally starstruck around: Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Always have another option." It's such a quixotic, unreliable industry.
Top three shows on my DVR: POV/Independent Lens, Homeland and Charlie Rose.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: New England Patriots games?
Having risen through the ranks -- from Norman Lear's receptionist to Irv Schechter agent to department head and, for the past 15 years, literary co-head and management committee member at Paradigm -- Klein, 50, has achieved stature through old-school sweat equity, growing her roster along with the company's 122-agent workforce. In 2012, Klein's division sold more pilots than ever before, among them brand extensions for Stephen King into TV and further expansion of the decade-old CBS series NCIS with a new spinoff. Paradigm client Shane Brennan is showrunner on NCIS: Los Angeles and writer/executive producer on the yet-untitled program. Klein considers herself a multitasking multi-specialist, qualities that are a must in the age of fast and furious dealmaking and that the married L.A. native can apply to her other full-time job: mom of two. On Nov. 29, Klein saw the announcement of CBS' 13-episode order of an adaption to King's novel Under the Dome, which she packaged to include her client Neil Baer as showrunner, for summer 2013.
My indulgence: Not reading for work but reading for pleasure. For me, that's not just a few books here and there, but also all my favorite magazines, from Vanity Fair to People. It's an indulgence I rarely get to have and usually saved for Saturday or Sunday.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Having to let go of certain agents who didn't necessarily fit the vision for this company. I'm terrible at parting ways with anybody, always -- thank God I have partners that are better at it -- but we had to. We're going to be growing this year. Things are changing here at Paradigm.
Berger, 48, is responsible for such guilty pleasures as the recently renewed Married to Jonas, Chelsea Lately and the longtime juggernaut Keeping Up With the Kardashians and its many spinoffs. In recent months, the married mother of two has been focused on pushing the newly rebranded network -- it's in the top 10 among women 18-to-49 -- into scripted fare as well.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I saw the "Thriller" video on MTV. I saw the power of music on television, and that video, in its time, was such a breakthrough.
Who gave me my first big break: Judy McGrath at MTV. She trusted that we could go beyond music videos and put on original programming, and I was a part of that wave. She trusted me and the power of the MTV brand.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Always go with your gut and believe in the passion of the project and the people behind it."
Proudest accomplishment this year: Going through the rebrand of E!
When I leave work, I can't wait to: Go home and see my two girls, 12 and 9.
Can't get through my workday without: My double latte with one sugar.
Best advice I've ever gotten: "Don't be afraid to make decisions."
Toughest decision I had to make this year: It will be deciding on E!'s first scripted show.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Dance Moms.
Siebert is the first nonfamily partner in the esteemed talent agency's 63-year history and, for all intents and purposes, Gersh is the only employer she has ever known. She started working there right after graduating from UCLA, crediting a casual conversation about softball with partner Bob Gersh for getting her noticed. Today, Siebert, 50, represents 40-plus actors, including Madeleine Stowe, starring for a second season on the ABC thriller Revenge; Catherine Keener, Kyle Chandler and Angela Bassett. A married mother of two, Siebert seems to have showbiz in her blood: Her 16-year-old son, Jack, interned for Kris Jenner over the summer and even made a brief appearance on Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Can't get through my workday without: Talking to [Brillstein Entertainment's] Cynthia Pett. We've been friends for 25 years. Whenever I need a little oomph or a little fun, I call her.
Proudest accomplishment this year: Signing Allison Janney after a three-year pursuit. I met her when she was leaving WME. She was advised to take further meetings, and she got swept up by a big agency conversation and went somewhere else. But we continued to talk. It comes down to this: Actresses want personal attention, to be a priority and know that they are going to be taken care of.
Walsh, 45, has watched over several hundred of the country's top authors for the better part of two decades and is continually upping her game. Case in point: 2012 best-sellers by Bill O'Reilly (Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln); self-help smash The Tools by L.A.-based psychotherapists Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, which WME sold in 40 countries; the series What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?; and No. 1 best-seller Bringing Up Bébé, which addresses what French women are doing right about parenting (the New York-based Walsh has three children, ages 18, 14 and 10). With the recent WME addition of Tina Bennett from Janklow & Nesbit, authors Malcolm Gladwell, Laura Hillenbrand, Atul Gawande, Amy Chua, Lev Grossman and Eric Schlosser join the agency's roster. Walsh also can claim bragging rights to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, adapted from the 1999 novel by Stephen Chbosky, who also directed the movie, and Cameron Diaz's forthcoming book on fitness and diet aimed at young girls, due out in fall 2013.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: That very little is fatal. Everything felt so do-or-die for me at that age. One of the beauties of being 45 is that I've learned how to conspire toward life. It's about being effective and impactful and significant. Beating yourself up for mistakes is actually not very useful. Once you learn from it, you move on, that's it.
Top three shows on my DVR: Homeland, Real Housewives of New York City and The Voice, although I was obsessed beyond belief with Downton Abbey. I watched the entire series in four days. … It was like crack cocaine.
The first black woman to lead the talent department of a major agency, Bartlett was named a partner this year after ICM went through a management buyout. The 49-year-old added Glee star Chris Colfer to an impressive client list that includes Zoe Saldana, Josh Duhamel, Eric Stonestreet, Mira Sorvino, Michael Keaton and Elisha Cuthbert.
]Who gave me my first big break: [Manager] Joan Hyler. She hired me at William Morris on her desk. She taught me tenacity.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: See my dog, a Rhodesian ridgeback. He's a big boy. A hundred pounds. And my guy, Mike. We've been together 9½ years.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Going to hear music, all different kinds. Music is one of those things I just feel can change your mood. I love seeing live performances. The last show that I saw that I enjoyed was Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne tour.
Can't get through my workday without: About 20 pieces of gum. Icebreakers Ice Cubes are a new discovery. They are unbelievable. It's the greatest gum ever.
Most surprising song on my iPod: "Moon River."
Totally starstruck around: Sports stars, especially football, like Ray Lewis.
Worst advice I've ever gotten: "You need to lose weight in order to succeed in this business."
Proudest moment this year: When the ICM partnership became a reality.
In a milestone year for Dick Clark Productions, Adelson was a constant, producing the company's many TV shows -- from the American Music Awards to New Year's Rockin' Eve -- while also developed new programs for new platforms. It was also a year in which founder Dick Clark died (and she arranged to pay tribute to him on several of the company's shows) and DCP won a key victory in round one of its lawsuit against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association over control of broadcast rights to the Golden Globes and was sold to a group led by Guggenheim Partners (part-owners of The Hollywood Reporter's parent company). Adelson, 56, also expanded the digital programming around such staples as the AMAs and helped reinvent the online Streamy Awards.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I saw that you could combine creative and business. This is when I was about 28. I was working in advertising.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: To choose the last two acts in every one of our shows. The last two are the toughest.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Exercise, watch movies and do yoga. Most weekends I see two movies, different genres.
One indulgence: There's lots of chocolate in my office.
Most surprising song on my iPod: "Give Me Everything" by Pitbull.
Totally starstruck around: Helen Mirren.
Top three shows on my DVR: Saturday Night Live, Homeland and So You Think You Can Dance.
The phenomenal success of James' erotic novel has been the most important story in publishing this year. Not only has the book sold more than 60 million copies worldwide, netting her about $100 million, but its success has legitimated fan fiction and made romance a hot category. The movie adaptation -- Focus Features paid $5 million for the rights -- is already one of the most buzzed-about projects in Hollywood. The London-based author, 49, kept an unusual amount of creative control from script to casting, and has shrewdly struck a deal with CopCorp to license Fifty Shades merchandise, including lingerie and jewelry.
Most surprising song on my iPod: "Right Said Fred" by Bernard Cribbins.
Top three shows on my DVR: Homeland, Modern Family … they're all American. I'm trying to think. Do I have anything British?
One indulgence: A new pair of Uggs. I just bought a pair yesterday. Yeah, they're so expensive, and I just thought, "You know what? My other ones are actually falling apart."
Totally starstruck around: I'm not easily starstruck, to be honest, but I went to a Women of the Year luncheon in London, where I met a lot of Team GB [The British Olympic Team]. They wanted their photo taken with me, and I wanted my photo taken with them. That was amazing.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: To learn to be careful of what I say. It can be taken the wrong way.
Don't let the hipster pink highlights and Venice sensibility fool you: Dakhil is a shrewd and tireless advocate for her roster of A-list film directors that includes Steven Spielberg, reigning Oscar winner Michel Hazanavicius and The Hunger Games' Gary Ross. In the past year, she helped launch a number of her clients' tricky-to-finance films, such as Steve McQueen's Twelve Years a Slave and Lee Daniels' The Butler. When she's not trawling the festival circuit looking for the next Hazanavicius, Dakhil, 37, is busy repping the likes of Tom Cruise, Madonna and Natalie Portman.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I first walked up the steps of the Palais as a college intern at the 50th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival.
Who gave me my first big break: The unique and wonderful Lee Cohen (now at Paradigm).
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Turn the lights off, turn some music on.
Can't get through my workday without: Laughter.
Most surprising songs on my iPod: Any of the many by N.W.A.
Proudest moment this year: Watching Gary Ross introduce Hunger Games to the world.
Totally starstruck around Rachel Maddow. But I got way more starstruck at the sight of Tupac's hologram at Coachella in April.
Best advice I've ever gotten: "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken" -- an Oscar Wilde quote.
When my relatives are confused about what I do, I tell them: I am on the other line and will call right back.
Top three shows on my DVR: The Rachel Maddow Show, Summer Heights High and Girls.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Though UTA is most often associated with its ribald comic talent like Judd Apatow and Kristen Wiig, Peters, 42, keeps the joint classy with an always in-demand dramatic roster that includes Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy and two-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul. With a keen eye for high-quality material, the 14-year veteran of the William Morris Agency heads UTA's talent department -- which includes such stars as Johnny Depp and Channing Tatum -- and personally guides the careers of Stephen Moyer, Bill Hader, Hugh Dancy, Emily Browning, Jason Clarke, Goldie Hawn, January Jones, Dev Patel, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Rosamund Pike.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I got my first freelance production coordinating job in Denver, on a commercial.
Who gave me my first big break: Amy Schiffman [now at Intellectual Property Group], who hired me as an assistant at William Morris and urged me to stay when I said, "I'm not sticking around answering phones all day." One indulgence Personal masseuse coming to my home once a week.
Can't get through my workday without: Zip Fizz. It's a vitamin drink.
Most surprising song on my iPod: Victoria Justice's "Make It in America."
Totally starstruck around: Diane Sawyer. I would die and go to heaven if I could hang out with her.
Top three shows on my DVR: 60 Minutes, ESPN's 30 for 30 and Dateline.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Breaking Amish.
Cooper has been an agent for nearly 40 years since she decided to go back to work after her second son was born and her husband, Bienstock founder and president, Richard Leibner, convinced her to join him as an agent. "I didn't think we could be married and work together," she recalls. "I said, 'You have to give me at least a year to decide if I want to keep working with you.' " She started out representing local news reporters and now has a client list of national news stars including Bill O'Reilly, Anderson Cooper and Lara Logan. And many of them have been clients since they were toiling in local television.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: My father, Sidney Cooper, was a musician with the NBC staff orchestra. I went to rehearsals and live TV shows, and that was when I knew I had to be in the entertainment business.
Who gave me my first big break: Harold Friedman. He had a production company in New York, and he gave me my first job as a producer of TV commercials.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Hang out at my beach house on Fire Island, N.Y.
Proudest moment this year: Lara Logan was named the first full-time correspondent on 60 Minutes since 2004 and the first woman since 1990.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Be a good listener and be truthful. That is how you earn people's respect."
Fresh from a sprawling reboot of NBCUniversal's decade-old Style brand, Smith, 42, is on track to finish her sixth year running the network by besting 2011's record ratings, accomplished largely through growing series like Giuliana & Bill and emulating sister nets E! and Bravo by building franchises with Jerseylicious and Big Rich Texas spinoffs.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: When I stepped on an oil field, wearing a hard hat, for my first engineering internship. I just had this moment of "This was not what I was destined to do."
Who gave me my first big break: Cyma Zarghami. When I was in my 20s, she hired me to launch Nickelodeon in other countries. She kick-started my global adventure in children's television, and I've been able to parlay a lot of that into what I'm doing now.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Letting go of the old Style logo.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: If I have time, I watch the same three chick flicks again and again: The Notebook, Love Actually and Pride and Prejudice.
One indulgence A dirty martini, daily.
Can't get through my workday without: Consuming something chocolate. I have a stash of Hershey's Kisses in my office.
Proudest moment this year: When my 5-year-old daughter [Smith is married with two children] declared that she no longer wants to be a princess or the tooth fairy: she wants to be a scientist.
Totally starstruck around: It doesn't happen often, but when I met [Luther star] Idris Elba and was rendered speechless.
As the captain of Relativity's production team, Brenner, 41, can take credit for putting together the company's eclectic slate, which includes one of the most killer ensembles in recent memory: The Peter Farrelly-helmed comedy Movie 43 boasts two Oscar winners (Halle Berry and Kate Winslet), a Jackass (Johnny Knoxville) and a Jackman (Hugh) as well as Richard Gere, Jason Sudeikis, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone. Outside of her Relativity duties, the married mother of two girls also pushed a passion project more than a decade in the making into production, the Matthew McConaughey AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club, for which the actor lost nearly 40 pounds.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I was probably 7 or 8. I remember my father taking me to buy shoes, and the store had this hand-crank device that created moving images. I didn't want the shoes. I wanted to watch the little movies.
Who gave me my first big break: Meryl Poster. I'd been hired by Miramax in 1995 and was on the Dimension side of the company. She brought me over to work with her.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: Being part of a committee to greenlight Scott Cooper's Out of the Furnace. It's a movie that I definitely went out on a limb for and am very excited about.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Horseback riding. It really takes me out of the moment.
Most surprising song on my iPod: Flo-Rida's "Wild Ones."
Proudest moment this year: When my oldest daughter, who is 7, told me, "I want to be smart and strong, just like you."
Gibbons, 52, helped steer FX to its first-ever major Emmy haul: American Horror Story got a whopping 17 Emmy nominations and took home two statuettes, including one for actress Jessica Lange. (Louis CK also nabbed an Emmy for his FX comedy.) While the second installment of the horror anthology this fall has enjoyed less dramatic ratings, FX's Sons of Anarchy has hit a rare ratings and popularity high for a series in its fifth season.
Who gave me my first big break: Len Fogge -- now president of marketing for NBC -- was then the executive vp of marketing at Showtime. I was hesitant to leave the NBC affiliate in Tampa and go to New York to work for Showtime. He flew down to Florida, took me to lunch and basically asked me if I had recently sustained a brain injury. I resigned two days later.
Toughest decision I had to make this year: How to best help and support my aunt when my uncle was facing a terminal health crisis.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Eat a stick of butter.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Sleep in, then lie motionless in bed focusing on shallow breathing. If my dogs know I'm awake, they walk on my head until I take them out.
Can't get through my workday without: Having someone at the network offer to take me shopping so I'll stop wearing mom jeans.
Totally starstruck around: Kind people.
Embarrassed to admit I watch: Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry on Discovery ID. I love folding my laundry while some woman discovers her husband is stealing moon rocks from NASA.
Since taking over in 2000 as head of the group that puts on the annual American Film Market, Prewitt, 64, has grown the organization's mandate and outreach. She has made IFTA a global voice for independent buyers and sellers. That included a role in the U.S.-China movie deal struck in early 2012, the battle against piracy of intellectual property, net neutrality and other issues.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: In 1976, I was offered the choice by my New York law firm of going to Rochester, N.Y., to do document searches on an antitrust case, or going to L.A. with a tax team to represent Universal.
When I leave work each day, I can't wait to: Pick up my Australian cattle dog from the kennel.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Read murder mysteries.
One indulgence: Electronics -- iPads, iPhones, computers. And I cannot be stopped from acquiring books on Kindle.
Can't get through my workday without: Twizzlers.
Proudest accomplishment this year: Three women who were interns for me in the 1990s have ended up with high-level government appointments.
Totally starstruck around: Michelle Obama.
Embarrassed to admit that I watch: America's Next Top Model marathons.
Paulsen, 57, has raised more than $800 million for charity and made the EIF a major force in health activism with its Women's Cancer Research Fund, the Picture Quitting anti-smoking program and its Revlon Run/Walk for Women. The married mother of two also co-founded Stand Up to Cancer with Sherry Lansing and Katie Couric.
Moment I knew I wanted to work in the business: I volunteered at a charity event while doing an internship at NBC.
Who gave me my first big break: [Former Universal and Fox exec] Dan Slusser. He was the architect of my rise through the ranks at the EIF.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Flying my glider plane. It's very poetic in the air.
One indulgence: Weekly mani and pedi at a salon in Manhattan Beach.
Proudest moment this year: After the Stand Up to Cancer telecast.
What I'd tell my 22-year-old self about working in Hollywood: "Always try to do what you say you're going to do."
Best advice I've ever gotten: From my dad: "Dream big and be real."
Embarrassed to admit I watch: The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
TV's undisputed "It" girl and hipster goddess shattered all notions of what's sexy -- and funny -- with her realistic docu-comedy, which earned the writer/director/star three Emmy noms and recently wrapped filming on its second season, set to bow Jan. 13. The 27-year-old's book deal with Random House for more than $3 million solidified her multimedia-mogul-on-the-rise status.
Who gave me my first big break: Janet Pierson, programmer of the SXSW film festival. She screened my first feature [2009's Creative Nonfiction] which, at 57 minutes, wasn't quite a feature after all.
When I leave work, I can't wait to: Watch New Girl and fall asleep with my computer on my chest.
Favorite way to unwind on the weekend: Is with other, different kinds of work. I have two modes: work or nap. All else I fail at.
Proudest moment this year: When I moved my dad's car for him in the middle of the night even though I have no license!
Totally starstruck around: I'd pretty much freak out on Obama.
Top three shows on my DVR: I honestly can't work it. It's a mystery.