Variety Vice President Madelyn Hammond introduced Tuesday night’s Women in Showbiz panelists by quoting some surprising statistics.
According to San Diego State professor Martha Lauzen’s report on the top 250 highest-grossing films of 2003, women accounted for 25% of producers, 13% of writers, 6% of directors and only 2% of cinematographers.
The women participating at the Beverly Hills Hotel sesh included those who broke ground 20 years ago and those who are still breaking down barriers today. Writer-director Nancy Meyers spoke about being the only woman on the set of her first screenwriting gig, “Private Benjamin,” which was released in 1980, yet Lora Hirschberg pointed out that she is still one of very few women working in her field of sound mixing today.
Hirschberg, who worked on “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and “Finding Neverland” as a re-recording mixer, said, “I consciously go out of my way to get more women involved.” But she says it’s important not to stop at good intentions: “If you have the power to hire somebody, be proactive.”
However, just getting your foot in the door isn’t enough. Barbara Brogliatti, exec VP and chief communications officer at Warner Bros., said women writers can be limited to working in certain genres because, “They always thought that only men could write for men and women could write for women.”
Linda Bell Blue, executive producer of “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider,” had a specific reason for hiring and catering to women. She said that about 170 of the 250 employees on her staff are women because, as she quipped, “It’s not about the money, it’s the money.” Her shows have to meet the desires of the female 25-54 bracket, because, she said, “They spend the money.”
“Sideways” thesp Virginia Madsen and Kathy Vrabeck, president of vidgame giant Activision, rounded out the discussion.