Former Disney president returns to studio
Nina Jacobson is returning to the DreamWorks fold, inking a first-look, three-year producing deal that takes effect at the beginning of the year.Pact was announced by DreamWorks co-chair Stacey Snider, who said Jacobson enjoys the respect of “writers, filmmakers and all those who have worked with her.” Steven Spielberg said he was “very proud to be able to welcome Nina home.” Jacobson will be given overhead and office space at the DreamWorks/Amblin complex on the Universal lot. Jacobson left DreamWorks in 1998 to serve as prexy of the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, where she oversaw all live-action projects, including the blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. The widely respected studio exec abruptly departed the Mouse House over the summer as part of a major shift in strategy that saw the studio lay off hundreds of employees and cut back the number of live-action pics it turns out. Jacobson was rumored to have gotten the call about losing her job while at the hospital where her partner was giving birth. Jacobson has never had a producing deal of her own, but follows a string of former studio execs who have gone on to set up studio deals, including former Warner Bros. prexy of production Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who now has a deal at Paramount. While at Disney, Jacobson enjoyed such successes as “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “The Princess Diaries,” “Remember the Titans” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense.” Box office duds have included the big-budget “Hidalgo.” Over the years, Jacobson has developed a reputation for fostering strong relationships with filmmakers, yielding such projects as Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige” and Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums.” She also reached out to first-time studio filmmakers, resulting in box office pleasers “The Rookie,” “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Flight Plan” and “Invincible.” At the same time, Jacobson stood her ground when needed. She and other Disney execs remained firm in expressing their reservations about Shyamalan’s “Lady in the Water,” even when it meant losing the project to Warner Bros. Over the summer — just before “Lady” tanked at the box office — Shyamalan took public aim at Jacobson in a book, saying he had “witnessed the decay of her creative vision right before his wide-open eyes.” Defending herself, Jacobson said there has to be a genuine back-and-forth. Before Disney and DreamWorks, Jacobson did stints at Universal, MacDonald/Parkes Prods. and Silver Pictures. While at DreamWorks, Jacobson was a senior film exec, overseeing the development of “What Lies Beneath” and coming up with the idea for toon “Antz.”
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