Nielsen honors Summit co-chairs

Rob Friedman, Patrick Wachsberger receive Impact Award

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Saturday night at the Sundance film festival, Summit Entertainment reached another peak when co-chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger received the second annual Nielsen Impact Award.

Industry players in Park City for the annual fest gathered at Main Street's Cafe Terigo to honor the two men whose fortunes soared this year with ther release of the $300 million-grossing blockbuster "Twilight."

"We started this last year, and it was something incredibly sincere," said Hollywood Reporter publisher Eric Mika, who presented the award with last year's recipient, festival director Geoffrey Gilmore. "The award is the Nielsen Impact Award, which celebrates the impact that an individual has on the independent film community. We believe these are two gentlemen who not only work incredibly well together but built a billion-dollar industry and launched a franchise that never will see its twilight."

"Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger are pros in every sense of the word," Gilmore said. "People that have had experience at studios, independents, globally -- across the spectrum -- and really reflect what the independent arena really is now. And their impact? Look at what's happened this year. I'm just fortunate enough to be in the position where I can sometimes get them to do me favors."

Wachsberger, who launched the company in 1996, and Friedman, a former Paramount Pictures executive, also credited Summit executives Erik Feig, David Garrett and Bob Hayward for "Twilight's" monumental success. Its sequel, "New Moon," is already in preproduction.

"To get an award that Geoffrey Gilmore has gotten for the support of independent film is really an achievement, in my mind," said Friedman. "Both Patrick and I are very excited about it and very appreciative of the honor."

As for Summit's future plans, Friedman cracked: "We'd like to continue getting the Impact Award every year."

THR's Gerry Byrne, left, and Eric Mika
Nielsen Impact Award winners Patrick Wachsberger, left, and Rob Friedman
Sundance festival director Geoffrey Gilmore
THR's Eric Mika, actress Andie MacDowell and Summit's Rob Friedman

(Getty Images photos)