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H’wood braces for a youthquake of talent in ’93

Hollywood is a young person’s game, and a new crop of youthful titans are ready to make names for themselves in the coming year.

Most are barely pushing 30 and, by 1994, should be making 10 times their age, around $ 300,000.

Conversely, the notion that experienced studio exex and producers get put out to pasture is a misconception, judging by the number of industry veterans expected to make a splash this year. So who’ll own the hot names of 1993?


When black directors moved back to the top ranks, veterans of the 1970s wave warned that the absence of black studio exex imperiled the surge. Stephanie Allain, a production VP at Columbia, is using her clout to full advantage. She brought John Singleton and “Boyz N the Hood” into Col, and her latest pet project is Hispanic director Robert Rodriguez, with the studio first distribbing his $ 7,000 Spanish-language action pic, “El Mariachi.”

Allain also counts the ’93 releases “Hexed” and “Wild Kingdom” among her other projects

The other most highly touted young honchos are Warner Bros. exec veep Lorenzo DiBonaventura, Steven Seagal’s main man there, who’s bound to play a great role with the exit of Lisa Henson; Col exec veep of production Barry Josephson, who shepherded “The Last Action Hero”; and Mark Gill, senior VP, publicity and promotion, one among the few studio press liaisons whose word reporters actually trust.

Fox is high on Michael London, who’s bringing in young talent like “Freaks” director Alex Winter. At TriStar, Kevin Misher put together Andrew Bregman’s “Cop Gives Waitress $ 2 Million Tip,” and Jonathan Darby went from Mike Medavoy’s assistant to senior VP of production inside of a year. The one to watch at Universal is Nina Jacobson, who’s getting a lot of movies made, including Ron Underwood’s “Heart and Souls.”

Perhaps the hottest young producing team is TriStar’s Rob Fried and Cary Woods. Fried, who last year won an Oscar for producing the short film “Session Man,” is a former Columbia and Orion exec; Woods is a former William Morris agent, and most recently a Sony exec. They’ve got two pix in ’93: the Mike Myers-starrer “So I Married an Axe Murderer,” and “Rudy,” done by the creative team behind “Hoosiers.” They’re now working on a big-budget version of Godzilla, and just won a spec war for Diana Drake’s “Him,” with Norman Jewison possibly directing.

Another Sony name with momentum is Denise DiNovi, formerly Tim Burton’s producer, who left to do her own films at Columbia.

“There were films I wanted to make that didn’t interest him,” says DiNovi. “I still get to work with him, while doing some that reflect my own values.”

In 1993, she’ll produce a Burton-directed biopic of B-movie director Ed Wood Jr., plus “Outlaw,” about five female desperadoes who rob to get money to have their own town.

DiNovi’s also producing an HBO series based on the bestseller “Women Who Run With the Wolves,” stories about historical myths based on women. Jodie Foster, Michelle Pfeiffer and Sally Field have already agreed to star and direct episodes.

Among veteran producers, several other teams are poised to have a big year. The Storyline Prods. team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron this year have the Harvey Milk biopic starring Robin Williams, an “Into the Woods” film at Columbia and a CBS version of “Gypsy” starring Bette Midler. At Universal, former studio exec Sean Daniel and Jim Jacks will release up to six diverse films, including “CB4,” Richard Linklatter’s “Dazed and Confused” and John Woo’s U.S. debut, “Hard Target.”


David Koepp, the 29-year-old “Death Becomes Her” scripter, is hot. His year starts with what’s expected to be the film event of the summer, “Jurassic Park,” which he and Michael Crichton adapted from Crichton’s novel. Other U projects are “Carlito’s Way,” with Brian DePalma directing Al Pacino, and “The Shadow.”

Then, there’s J.F. Lawton, who, after writing “Pretty Woman” and “Under Siege ,” just passed up $ 1.5 million in “Siege” sequel money to direct Howard Stern in New Line’s “The Adventures of Fartman.” Lawton is also selling the script for “Indigo Cat,” best described as “Pretty Woman” with a cat burglar instead of a hooker.

Another duo to watch is Zak Penn and Adam Leff. Right out of college, the duo made six figures on the sale of the screenplay for the Schwarzenegger-starrer “The Last Action Hero.” Penn, now 24, and Leff, now 25, are currently developing a project at Fox called “PCU,” and are producing “Folk Heros,” a Fox pic scripted by Mitchell Peck. In addition, New Line bought their first script, a horror pic called “Central Park.”

Jennifer Lynch, helmer David Lynch’s daughter, who waited years to make “Boxing Helena,” heads the list of stars-in-the-making when the film premieres at Sundance. Two fest vets, Alexandre Rockwell (“In the Soup”) and Quentin Tarentino (“Reservoir Dogs”) are also expected to graduate to bigger budgets.

A major resurgence is expected for “Radio Flyer” scripter David Mickey Evans, who’s getting great word of mouth for Fox’s “The Sandlot.”


William Forsythe has distinguished himself in character roles as Flattop in “Dick Tracy,” the baby-loving convict in “Raising Arizona,” and, most recently, in “The Waterdance,” which could get him an Oscar nod. But he could be leading man material this year if his Al Capone portrayal in Par’s syndicated series “The Untouchables” hits right.

Other actors to watch include Brad Pitt, who, after “A River Runs Through It, ” is perhaps the most coveted young leading man around; Gabrielle Anwar, Al Pacino’s co-star in “Scent of a Woman,” who’s got three movies; and Michael Madsen, the psycho from “Reservoir Dogs” who has four films next year.

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