WIF Honoree: Kathleen Kennedy

Spielberg's former assistant wins Paltrow Award

If she weren’t so inextricably linked to Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy — recipient of WIF’s Paltrow Membership Award — might have been just another producer with impeccable taste and a tireless work ethic. But the two filmmakers have stuck together through thick and thin, from the time she heeded a college roommate’s call to serve as John Milius’ assistant on the beleaguered Spielberg comedy “1941” to the latest “Jurassic Park” installment, now in pre-production.

When she upgraded to Spielberg’s assistant on “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1977), she met the other man in her life, producing partner Frank Marshall, similarly headhunted from Peter Bogdanovich, and the three formed Amblin Entertainment, where she remained as president until forming the Kennedy/Marshall Co. in 1992. (She and Marshall were married in 1987 and have two daughters.)

When your first producing credit is “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” as Kennedy’s was, why mess with a good thing? Her credits include the “Indiana Jones,” “Back to the Future” and “Jurassic Park” trilogies, “Schindler’s List,” “Seabiscuit” and 60 others, and she still found time to unofficially mentor many of today’s top female producers (Cathy Konrad, Janet Yang, etc.) and support mentorship programs like One to One/Communities in Schools and Workplace Hollywood, not to mention serving as president of the Producers Guild of America.

Among her own mentors, Kennedy cites Marshall, George Lucas producer Robert Watts and Jeffrey Katzenberg plus Sid Sheinberg and Lew Wasserman at Universal. “But I have to say that Steven has always been unique, in my opinion,” she adds, “in that gender has never been a factor, in terms of who he looks to do any job on a movie.”

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