The town’s top titans whose talents and turf domination this year made headlines and, of course, lots and lots of money.
Banks topped off her banner year by hosting Saturday Night Live for the first time Nov. 14, opening the show by "directing" her own monologue in which she sang and danced to "Flashdance … What a Feeling." The actress, known for her roles in comedies and dramas ranging from 30 Rock and The 40-Year-Old Virgin to The Hunger Games and this year's Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy, said on the show that she'd been bitten by the "directing bug." Millions of fans around the world are happy she was: Her directorial debut, Pitch Perfect 2, opened to $69 million in May — the highest domestic opening ever for a first-time director.
"I felt a real responsibility as a filmmaker who happens to be a woman to deliver on the film," says Banks, who also produced the movie via Brownstone Productions, which she runs with husband Max Handelman. "I set out with the goal of making a bigger movie, a more blockbuster-sized version of Pitch Perfect."After the Universal sequel went on to earn $286.6 million worldwide, directing offers started rolling in, and Banks signed on to helm a new Charlie's Angels for Sony.
"The original ethos of women who graduated from the police academy, and then were given the jobs of crossing guard and meter maid, I feel like that's still very real in the world right now," says the star, who also is attached to direct and produce the adaptation of YA hit Red Queen, a book she became interested in after starring as Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games franchise. Banks also will return to direct Universal's third Pitch Perfect film, slated for release in July 2017.
"I definitely feel a responsibility to advocate on behalf of other women getting behind the camera," says Banks, a mother of two boys.
The Massachusetts-born actress, who served on the Venice Film Festival jury in September and was nominated for an Emmy for her guest actress work on Modern Family this year, recently signed on to star in the war drama Rita Hayworth With a Hand Grenade.
"I'd like to play more lead roles," she says, "which is such a ridiculous thing to say now that I'm not 26 and an ingenue. The ingenues usually have to play with the boys, and I'm much less interested in being the support system for a man in a movie."
WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED IN HOLLYWOOD "How to dress better."
SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD "Invisibility"
THE HOLLYWOOD CAREER I COVET "Tom Hanks"
FAVORITE TV SHOW (THE I'M NOT INVOLVED WITH) "Game of Thrones"
INDUSTRY PET PEEVE "I have many, but I don't think there are any I'm willing to say as I'm an employee most of the time."
The keeper of the James Bond franchise is known as a master negotiator, a skill she'll need to employ once again in the coming months. The latest James Bond film, Spectre, which had earned $751 million worldwide as of Dec. 3, is the last in Sony's two-picture deal with MGM and Eon, and now every studio is clamoring to get ahold of the billion-dollar franchise.
Broccoli, who with her half brother Michael G. Wilson has been overseeing the world of 007 since 1995's Goldeneye, also will have to figure out whether she'll need to find a new leading man — Spectre star Daniel Craig, who came off a bit bristly in media interviews for the $250 million film, is not committed to wearing the Bond tux again. In the meantime, she's producing Broadway and West End productions including Chariots of Fire and Once, and such indie fare as The Silent Storm with Damian Lewis.
Two of the most high-profile additions to the Power 100 arrive thanks to the stellar success of Empire. Neither Henson nor Chaiken is new to the game — Henson earned an Oscar nomination for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and starred on CBS' Person of Interest on top of a steady film career, while Chaiken co-created Showtime's groundbreaking lesbian drama The L Word — but their stocks have skyrocketed in the past 12 months thanks to the hip-hop drama. Chaiken signed a lucrative seven-figure overall deal with 20th Century Fox in May, and Henson's new household-name status has led to appearances in commercials for Apple and Hulu as well as multiple magazine covers. In addition to her Emmy nomination, Henson also has taken home Critics' Choice, BET and NAACP awards for her portrayal of the outspoken and instantly quotable Cookie Lyon. "For so many years, we pushed up against this idea that women can't carry a show, that female characters can't be this, this or this, that we had to create our female characters to behave in a certain way," says Chaiken. "When it works, and when it works powerfully, everybody notices and understanding dawns. Cookie is such a great example of that."
The two also have found ways to use the show's power for good (in addition to selling soundtracks and Empire-branded clothing at Saks Fifth Avenue): The opening minutes of the season two premiere shined a light on the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the show's list of directors is one of the most diverse in the business — in terms of gender as well as race. "There's a palpable, measurable, progressive change happening right now," says Chaiken of the growing ranks of women behind the camera, noting that things have come a long way since she first came to Hollywood to work at CAA. "Girls weren't accepted into the training program because we couldn't carry typewriters," she recalls. "By the way, I can carry a typewriter as well as any 25-year-old boy."
ACTOR I'D CAST TO PLAY ME IN MY BIOPIC Henson: "I think by the time my biopic is being made, Quvenzhane Wallis will be perfect casting."
SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD Henson: "I want to fly. No more plane rides."
GO-TO LUNCH SPOT Chaiken: "A.O.C. It's close to the Empire office and delicious. I love to sit in the courtyard and pretend I'm on vacation in Europe."
I'M STILL STARSTRUCK BY Henson: "Carol Burnett. When I met her I could hardly speak."
WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME Henson: "I'm a really good cook. My Thanksgiving rocks." Chaiken: "I'm trained in an array of martial arts disciplines. I'm not suggesting I could kick anyone's ass …"
The ad-supported cable industry is under assault, and sources of the incoming fire are numerous: cord-cutters and cord-nevers, skinny bundles and a la carte, mobile and over-the-top. To say nothing of a creative crisis in cable’s unscripted landscape that has sent ratings into a nosedive. So what is the CEO of a cable network group — one with $4 billion in annual revenue, 500 employees and a valuation of more than $26 billion — to do in the face of such challenges? Invest and diversify. Since being upped to her current post atop the company in 2013, Dubuc has led AETN’s initial $250 million investment in Vice Media.
More recently, she hammered out a deal with Vice CEO Shane Smith to rebrand History spinoff H2 into Viceland as well as up A+E’s stake in the company to nearly 20 percent. "Our venture with them allows us to diversify our portfolio's category reach and elevates a key asset in the new distribution paradigm," she says. At the same time, the married mother of two is investing in homegrown scripted projects via A+E Studios, which launched in 2013, and this year found a critical darling in Lifetime’s UnREAL. The studio now is in production on a reboot of the epic miniseries Roots with an A-list cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED IN HOLLYWOOD “Achievement isn’t the only currency.”
I’M STILL STARSTRUCK BY George Lucas and Mary J. Blige
SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD “Wonder Woman’s invisible (or even visible) jet.”
INDUSTRY PET PEEVE “People who say something is great in the room when everyone knows it’s not.”
MY QUIRKIEST HABIT “I play Scrabble on my iPad before lights out every night.”
AS A WOMAN IN THIS BUSINESS, I'M STILL SURPRISED WHEN … "I'm called 'sweetie.'"
The queen of cable maintains her title, with the most profitable empire of any woman in Hollywood. Despite ongoing ratings challenges across the landscape, Hammer's group of 10 networks and two cable studios is expected to post profits of about $2.8 billion this year, up from $2.7 billion year-over-year and by far the biggest contributor to NBCUniversal's bottom line. In fact, 2015 marks the 10th consecutive year in which her portfolio registered growth in both profit and revenue.
The NBCU vet, who reports to CEO Steve Burke, oversees about 2,000 employees in the larger cable entertainment group and 12 direct reports, including Power 100 list-makers Frances Berwick and Beth Roberts. In any given week, 118 million viewers tune in to Hammer's networks. Collectively the group has aired 137 original series in 2015, a mix of unscripted (Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Real Housewives) and scripted (The Royals, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce). Among the standouts: USA's hacker drama Mr. Robot, which earned widespread critical acclaim; and Caitlyn Jenner's I Am Cait, which made E! a key part of the cultural conversation. Hammer, a married mother of two, also is among an elite subset of Hollywood power women who additionally sit on corporate boards. She joined the IAC board in September 2014 and eBay's board four months later.
MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE "My dog Garbo, named for a Hollywood icon and every bit as gorgeous as her namesake (but friendlier … she doesn't like to be left alone)."
WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I can play piano and guitar. People don't know because some 'talents' are best hidden."
MY QUIRKIEST HABIT "I bob and weave through L.A. traffic like a real New Yorker … to the horror of anyone in the passenger seat."
THE ACTOR I'D CAST TO PLAY ME IN MY BIOPIC "If they start with the early days, the amazing Jennifer Lawrence (I can dream can't I?)."
AS A WOMAN IN THIS BUSINESS, I'M STILL SURPRISED WHEN … "I'm referred to as a 'woman in this business.'"
Under Holland, Netflix continues to lead the streaming landscape as a coveted outlet for top creators to bring their next project. In the past year alone, Netflix has more than doubled its original programming output, introducing more than 300 episodes of original content that ranged from the drama Bloodline to the Aziz Ansari comedy Master of None, and will spend $5 billion on content in 2016. The streamer scored 34 Emmy noms this year (it won four), but the 13-year Netflix veteran and avid cyclist says she's focused on assembling a diverse slate of shows for the streamer's 69 million global subscribers, a 30 percent increase from 2014.
WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED IN HOLLYWOOD "That famous line from Bette Davis: 'Take Fountain!' "
SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD "Teleportation."
FAVORITE SHOW (THE I'M NOT INVOLVED IN) Mad Men
GO-TO LUNCH SPOT "My desk."
Kelly unquestionably is among the top news anchors on TV. Sure, she has become (along with Bill O'Reilly) the face of Roger Ailes' $15 billion Fox News empire. But the married mother of three also has become — simply in the course of doing her job — the refutation of the toxic misogyny that can pervade social media. When Donald Trump's personal attacks on her — after she questioned his sexist statements about women at the first GOP primary debate in August — unleashed an ugly Twitter barrage, Kelly kept quiet even as the candidate embarked on an on-again, off-again feud with the network.
"Donald Trump rarely apologizes," said Ailes, "although in this case, he should." That debate was watched by a stunning 24 million viewers, a record for a political debate on cable news and still the season's most watched face-off in what has proved to be a blockbuster primary season. The Kelly File — her 9 p.m. program that launched in October 2013 — snapped the 10-year cable news winning streak of her colleague O'Reilly, besting his 8 p.m. show in the critical 25-to-54 demographic in the third quarter for the first time. It didn't hurt that a post-debate installment of her show was watched by nearly 11 million viewers. But in November, Kelly was once again the top-rated program in the advertiser-coveted demo. "I've had contentious showdowns with Democrats and Republicans," Kelly told THR this year. "It's not about politics, it's about penetrating the lens. It's about connecting with that audience."
As Star Wars: The Force Awakens nears its release on Dec. 18, the level of anticipation has reached hysterical proportions. At the center of the frenzy is Kennedy, who has four more films in the franchise rolling out over the next four years — Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards (2016), Episode VIII written and directed by Rian Johnson (2017), an untitled Han Solo anthology film directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (2018) and Episode IX directed by Colin Trevorrow (2019) — plus an untitled Star Wars anthology film written by Simon Kinberg (undated).
"My life is quite — it's organized chaos," says the Northern California native (a mother of two children with producer husband Frank Marshall), who took the reins at Lucasfilm in 2012. "It's been nonstop — literally nonstop — from that moment on." Says Kinberg, "I've been most impressed by how she gets the best work out of creative people. … She's supernatural to me. She's calm and clear and focused and committed and extraordinarily insightful about filmmaking."
With her studio’s box-office haul of more than $6.7 billion worldwide, Langley is presiding over a record year with a diverse slate ranging from franchise fare (Furious 7, Pitch Perfect 2, Minions, Jurassic World) to zeitgeisty features with awards buzz (Straight Outta Compton, Steve Jobs). “She’s indefatigable about trying to make a film the best it can possibly be,” says NBCU CEO Steve Burke.
Read more about Langley here.
As if biggest star in Hollywood wasn't enough, Lawrence added advocate to her resume in October when she authored a defining essay on gender pay inequality in Hollywood, published in Lena Dunham's newsletter, Lenny. The actress was moved to speak out after learning what her male co-stars in David O. Russell's 2013 film American Hustle earned. "When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn't get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself," wrote Lawrence. "I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early." She wouldn't make the same mistake twice. In fact, for Sony's forthcoming Passengers, she commanded a hefty $20 million — more than co-star Chris Pratt is earning for the space romance, set to hit theaters Dec. 21, 2016. It's been a year of endings for the star, between Mockingjay — Part 2, the final title in the Hunger Games series, and her last X-Men movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, due in theaters in May.
She went on a whirlwind worldwide tour to promote Mockingjay, which opened Nov. 20 (it had grossed $206 million domestic as of Dec. 2), and now is preparing for the Dec. 25 release of Joy, widely expected to be a player in this year's awards race (with buzz around Lawrence for a best actress nomination). The movie, directed by Russell, is loosely based on the life of Miracle Mop creator Joy Mangano. Oscar winner (and three-time nominee) Lawrence recently revealed that she will direct Project Delirium, based on Raffi Khatchadourian's 2012 New Yorker piece about chemical weapon experiments performed on U.S. soldiers during the Cold War, and is co-writing a comedy with Amy Schumer. The Kentucky native also struck a pact this summer to be the face of Dior Addict makeup.
It should come as a surprise to no one that at this litigious moment in an unprecedented drama, Shari Redstone is not prepared to address questions about her ailing 92-year-old father, Sumner, or the fate of the family's Viacom and CBS media empire. But Redstone, who not only is president of parent company National Amusements but also vice chair of both the Viacom and CBS boards, is willing to share her opinions about subjects ranging from the future of the media business to the cause of equal access to justice. Redstone is bullish on the future of the entertainment business. "If I'm not optimistic, why should I wake up in the morning?" she says in a Boston-accented delivery so rapid-fire that she actually apologizes for her speed, explaining she can't slow down or she'll lose her train of thought. Businesses that disrupt existing models are "not a threat but an opportunity," she adds. "I always say, complacency is the kiss of death."
With an eye to the digital future, Redstone in 2011 became co-founder and managing partner of Advancit Capital, an investment firm that focuses on tech startups involved in media, entertainment and technology — it has invested in more than 50 companies including Maker Studios. "I've always thought these new companies were going to provide tremendous opportunities for traditional media companies to create content for different platforms and different verticals," she says, pointing to virtual reality as an example of "a new vertical of content that didn't exist five years ago." She says she evaluates candidates for investment by asking, "Are you trying to solve a problem, and do you think you have the right solution?"
Viacom traces its origins to movie theaters, and Redstone still believes in that business. "There will always be a place for social movie-going," she says. "Nothing can compete with that." She long has been an advocate for an improved theatergoing experience that includes "great service, great cocktails and great programming" that isn't limited to films.
Redstone has an array of causes to which she devotes herself, including board memberships at Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and most recently, Our Time, an organization aimed at engaging young voters. On April 14 (her birthday), Redstone spoke on a panel at the White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice. "We do business all over the world, and when we think about doing business in other countries, the first thing we think about is the rule of law," she said. "Is there political stability? Is there social stability, legal stability? Do we know we will get justice? And yet as leaders in the business community in the U.S., we often don't give that a second thought. We assume that it exists — and it doesn't." Businesses must fight for people to have equal access to justice, she warned, because the absence of the rule of law produces social dysfunction and "chaos."
Redstone, who lives in Boston and is a divorced mother of three grown children and grandmother of two, says her usually upbeat attitude is challenged when it comes to gender bias in the entertainment business. Her awareness of the issue is of long-standing. "I used to practice criminal law, and it was so sexist," she says. (Her law degree is from Boston University.) "We're moving in the right direction," she says. "But it's tougher than I thought it would be."
MY FIRST JOB IN HOLLYWOOD "My college roommate and I had summer internships, coincidentally at Paramount Studios, working on the sets of Love, American Style and Mannix."
WHAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME "I love to create a variety of signature martinis for our Cinema de Lux theaters and lounges."
I'M STILL STARSTRUCK BY "Tom Brady and the New England Patriots"
MY QUIRKIEST HABIT "I walk in hotel halls late at night while listening to audiobooks if I haven't yet achieved a minimum of 12,000 steps that day."
There are few more significant illustrations of power in Hollywood than owning an entire night of primetime, which is precisely what Rhimes can claim Thursdays on ABC. All the better when each of the series comprising that night resonates with millions, as Rhimes' shows do on a weekly basis: Grey's Anatomy, still a ratings powerhouse with 11 million viewers in its 12th season; Scandal, the No. 2 drama behind only Empire among the core 18-to-49 demo in its fifth season; and sophomore How to Get Away With Murder, which regularly garners 10 million viewers.
In September the world was reminded that Rhimes' impact extends beyond the ability to generate enviable ratings when Davis became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for lead actress in a drama. Davis, a married mom who co-stars in DC's forthcoming feature Suicide Squad, used the platform to thank Rhimes and Murder creator Pete Nowalk for helping to create roles that have "redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman [and] to be black."
Washington, nominated for her work on Scandal a year earlier, also has Rhimes to thank for her perch on TV's A-list. That status already has yielded the married mother of one a starring role as Anita Hill in HBO's upcoming telepic, Confirmation. But it's Rhimes' growing profile that is arguably most impressive. The prolific showrunner, who will add thriller The Catch to her Thursday lineup March 24, embarked on a press tour for her first book, Year of Yes, in November, with stops on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
She continues to add projects to her Shondaland development queue, too, just as she does magazine covers and Twitter followers (1.08 million), for whom she live-tweets each of her shows. Rhimes also has become a vocal supporter of women's rights, both on her shows (a recent Scandal episode tackled Planned Parenthood defunding) or in the media. In fact, when this publication asked the mother of three to complete the sentence, "Men are better at …" Rhimes responded: "Are you kidding? You're kidding, right? Because … no, seriously. YOU ARE KIDDING ME?"
FIRST JOB IN HOLLYWOOD
Rhimes: "I was an assistant at Paula Weinstein's Spring Creek Productions on the Warner Bros. lot. I got coffee and fed the fish!"
Davis: "A movie called The Shrink Is In with Courteney Cox and David Arquette."
FAVORITE TV SHOW (THAT I'M NOT INVOLVED WITH)
Rhimes: "Veep. Brilliant and funny."
Washington: "Game of Thrones and Super Soul Sunday"
MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE
Washington: "The only car I've ever owned is a Prius."
Davis: "Getting free 'stuff.'"
ACTOR I'D CAST TO PLAY ME IN MY BIOPIC
Rhimes: "Beyonce. Obviously."
Davis: "An unknown powerhouse actress who looks like me."
THING I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED
Washington: "How much I would love being on the producing side."
Davis: "Be yourself."
HOLLYWOOD HAS BECOME … Washington: "Less frightening."
AS A WOMEN IN THIS BUSINESS, I'M STILL SURPRISED WHEN …
Davis: "Women are demeaned."
Rhimes: "People ask me questions about being a 'woman in this business.'"
It's difficult to imagine any comedian, male or female, breaking out as big as Schumer did in 2015: the continued success (two Emmys) of her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer; the cultural and box-office impact ($140 million worldwide) of feature foray Trainwreck (Schumer wrote and starred); an HBO comedy special; and media-darling status that seems to have the stamina of a marathoner.
"I'm newly famous," Schumer has taken to cracking during her latest stand-up tour, which has sold out arenas nationwide. She recently scored a $9 million deal for her upcoming book, got a tenfold pay raise for her next acting gig (a mother-daughter comedy from Fox) and is writing a vehicle for herself and pal Jennifer Lawrence — all while stirring a fresh feminist dialogue with her critically adored satire.
"I think people hate women," Schumer told THR earlier in 2015. "I don't think they want to hear a woman talk for too long. A lot of people project their mom yelling at them. My [career] has been about tricking people into listening."
Among many new feathers in her 2015 cap, Walden can take credit for launching the biggest broadcast hit in years. The chairman and CEO of Fox TV Group and her partner Gary Newman saw their first season as heads of the network (Fox Broadcasting Co.) and the studio (20th Century Fox Television) defined by the improbable rise of Empire. The Big Four's highest-rated series, it's averaging a 7.7 rating among adults 18-to-49 in live-plus-7. But the married mother of two daughters, who calls Empire's success "extremely gratifying," has not indulged in the luxury of a victory lap. She instead is focused on moving the chains — Fox recently climbed out of the No. 4 slot, replacing ABC as No. 3 despite misfires including Minority Report — and changing the conversation around what qualifies as a success in the contemporary broadcast landscape.
In November, Walden and Newman told their 7,300-plus staffers that the network was turning its back on live-plus-same-day ratings. "We're looking for growth over a seven-day period and, ultimately, a multiplatform picture of our shows," says Walden, citing the delayed-viewing uptick of Ryan Murphy's Scream Queens as just one piece of evidence that the morning-after ratings discussion is antiquated. "You find yourself in a trap when you're releasing — to your entire company and your creative partners — ratings that you're telling them are irrelevant. It felt hypocritical." Fox's total multiplatform audience is up 14 percent for the 2015-16 season. And that's a stat worth bragging about for a woman who controls companies that generate $7 billion in revenue and boast some of the biggest hits on competing networks such as Modern Family (ABC), American Horror Story (FX) and Homeland (Showtime).
WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED IN HOLLYWOOD "That the Internet, email and mobile phones were going to eventually kill any opportunity to truly unplug from work."
MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT MY LIFE "I work on a studio lot. You can't get more Hollywood than that."
MY FIRST JOB IN HOLLYWOOD "I was an assistant to Larry Goldman, a partner in Bender, Goldman and Helper, a PR firm. Unfortunately, Larry passed away recently. He taught me a lot about the business and the importance of showmanship."
GO-TO LUNCH SPOT "The Fox Commissary. Great food. Geographically desirable."
INDUSTRY PET PEEVE "Live-plus-same-day ratings — a demoralizing daily report card that's irrelevant."