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Women who run with the wolves

A guide to Hollywood's major women studio toppers


Sherry Lansing

Company:
Paramount
Title: chair
Year: 1992
First woman prexy of production at Fox became Paramount topper in 1992. Known as the grand dame of all studio execs, Lansing is often praised for her generosity, knowledge, graciousness and tough business standards. Under the leadership, Paramount delivered “Titanic” and “First Wives’ Club.” Her next big project is this fall’s “Four Feathers.”

Helene Hahn

Company:
DreamWorks
Title: co-COO
Year: 1994
Hahn moved from Disney to DreamWorks in ’94, and is the company’s lead business negotiator, seeks balance in a deal, and knows that girls and women today see themselves differently.

Nikki Rocco

Company:
Universal
Title: prexy of distribution
Year: 1996
She started as a clerk at Universal in New York, read the files at night, learned everything about distribution, and became prexy in ’96. She keeps her office open, particularly to filmmakers waiting for their numbers, and isn’t afraid to take chances with distrib strategies. First pic for her as prexy was the $100 million-grossing “The Nutty Professor.” She launched “Babe,” “Field of Dreams” and “Jurassic Park.”

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Donna Smith

Company:
Cinema Completions Intl.
Title: CEO
Year: 1996
Smith started in production at the bottom, worked her way up to senior VP of production at Universal, and became a completion bond expert who is tough yet strives for harmony “to create an environment in which the artist can work,” she says. After “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Traffic,” she’s on a roll with the upcoming “Four Feathers” and “The Hours.”

Stacey Snider

Company:
Universal
Title: chair
Year: 1999
One of the youngest in this group, Snider is known as a smart, shrewd exec. She played a key role in revamping the studio with hits such as “Erin Brockovich,” the “Mummy” pics and “A Beautiful Mind.” “Red Dragon” and “The Hulk” are the next two big weapons in her arsenal.

Amy Pascal

Company:
Columbia
Title: chair
Year: 1999
Initially focusing on women’s pics, “Little Women,” “Girl, Interrupted,” down-to-earth topper is clearly the toast of the town for Sony’s phenomenal summer box office, thanks to hits like “Spider-man,” “Men in Black II” and “Panic Room.”

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