'Holiday' director knows 'What Women Want'

If Nancy Meyers weren’t so down to earth, her motto could be “It’s good to be queen.” Slowly but surely, she has emerged as the sole female big-studio director with a consistent track record of hits.

Behind the camera she’s batting 1.000: Three of her four helming efforts — “What Women Want,” “Something’s Got to Give” and “The Holiday” — have each surpassed $200 million worldwide. And her first, “The Parent Trap,” topped $66 million domestic and made a star out of a then-cuddly tween named Lindsay Lohan.

But there were speed bumps along the way. During her days as a writer-producer on “Private Benjamin” (1980), Meyers recalls that “in my contract it said I couldn’t be on the set by myself — Charles (her ex-husband and creative partner Charles Shyer) had to be there. They didn’t really understand the concept of this 29-year-old woman as a producer of this $12 million movie.” When she previously worked as a story editor for producer Ray Stark, she was one of only two women executives on the Columbia lot.

Appropriate to receiving the Dorothy Arzner Directing Award (named for the first female member of the DGA), Meyers is grounded in the era of the 1930s: “The Holiday” practically conducts an onscreen graduate seminar for star Kate Winslet in the joys of such screen heroines as Irene Dunne and Barbara Stanwyck.

“The men seem to really be friends with the women in the romantic relationships,” Meyers says. “Tracy and Hepburn, Cary Grant and Hepburn, Cary Grant and Irene Dunne — they were pals. I like that, and I try and write that.”

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