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Five fabulous femmes from Fox are feted

Women in Film / Crystal + Lucy Awards 2012

Five Fox film femmes will receive special recognition for professional excellence at WIF’s Crystal + Lucy awards: 20th Century Fox president of production Emma Watts, Fox Searchlight president Nancy Utley, Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler, Fox Searchlight president of production Claudia Lewis and Fox Animation president Vanessa Morrison Murchison.

“They have been at that studio for such an enormous amount of time,” WIF prexy Cathy Schulman says of the fab five. “I was stuck by how many years they’ve been at the studio. Collectively, they’ve been there 98 years.”

Even more important than longevity, “This is the perfect example of power in numbers,” adds Schulman. “There’s longevity. There’s commitment. There’s collective success. There’s enormous amounts of box office. There’s greenlighting power. There’s movies for women. And there’s movies directed by women. Now those numbers are still really small even within that studio, but they’re notably significant. And I thought, ‘To Fox’s credit, they’ve kept these five women in these key positions.’ ”

For Gabler, this past year has seen the culmination of a 10-year project, Ang Lee’s adaptation of bestselling young adult tome “Life of Pi” for Fox. The biggest challenge, Gabler says, is that the pic’s two main characters — a young boy and a tiger — couldn’t be in the same room together.

That meant that filmmakers had to wait until they had the right blend of CGI and real-life tiger to make the animal look believable.

“It’s a large-scale epic adventure based on this wonderful, award-winning book,” says Gabler. “And truly very difficult to do, and probably not possible to do, until we had the latest technology available today.”

But besides filling the studio pipeline, the honorees have plenty to keep them busy.

“I enjoy having a lot of irons in the fire,” says Utley. “So the combination of a full film slate, traveling to festivals, having a family of five kids, and some mentoring and volunteering keeps me busy and fulfilled.”

That film slate includes recent releases “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “The Descendents” as well as “Hitchcock,” in the works.

The latter pic stars Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, and chronicles the struggles faced by the director and his wife, Alma Reville, during the making of horror classic “Psycho.”

“As a film student, Hitchcock was one of my auteur idols, so to honor him and his wife, Alma, feels especially sweet,” says Lewis. “It’s a film about the woman behind the man, who is finally recognized alongside him. That seems fitting.”

Anna Stewart contributed to this report.

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