Reese appears on the cover of the June issue of Fast Company, a US business magazine. She is named one of their ‘100 Most Creative People in Business’ (#11 to be exact), and the magazine features an extensive new interview and a new photoshoot. See some behind the scenes videos on the magazine’s website, and find scans and photos from the shoot in our Gallery. It’s fantastic to see Reese recognised for her work like this!
How Reese Witherspoon is flipping the script on Hollywood The Hello Sunshine founder is channeling women’s voices into top-tier entertainment–and altering the dynamics of the entire industry along the way.
When Reese Witherspoon was 17, she had already appeared in four films. Still, she took an unlikely part-time job, as an intern in Disney’s post-production department. “I wanted to learn about editing, visual correction, and sound mixing,” she tells me 25 years later. Not long after, she worked as a production assistant on the 1995 Denzel Washington film Devil in a Blue Dress, helping with casting, among other things. Also: “I parked Denzel’s Porsche!”
That inquisitiveness, as well as nearly three decades in front of the camera, has made Witherspoon one of Hollywood’s most astute producers. She turned Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl into a $369 million worldwide hit in 2014 (that earned Rosamund Pike an Oscar nomination) and did it again, that same year, transforming Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir, Wild, into a breakout success ($52 million plus Oscar nods for Witherspoon and costar Laura Dern). Then came HBO’s Big Little Lies, executive produced with costar Nicole Kidman; the cultural bellwether about female relationships and domestic abuse, based on a novel by Liane Moriarty, swept nearly every category for which it was nominated at the 2017 Emmys. After years of hearing from studio executives that there was no market for female-driven films, Witherspoon had succeeded to a degree that proved a hunger was there.
Her instinct for what women want is now being tested on multiple platforms through her 18-month-old storytelling company, Hello Sunshine. She and her team currently have shows in development at Hulu, NBC, and Apple TV (which has partnered on three projects, one rumored to be the biggest deal in history for a straight-to-series show), as well as a film at TriStar/Sony Pictures. But Witherspoon is also laying the foundation for a direct-to-consumer brand, one that is already beginning to speak to women through a website, social media, YouTube and Facebook videos, audiobooks, podcasts, and newsletters—whichever platform she and Hello Sunshine execs think best honors the story being told.
Congratulations to Reese for her inclusion on eminent business magazine Fortune’s World’s Top 50 Greatest Leaders list:
The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders Our annual list of the thinkers, speakers, and doers who are stepping up to meet today’s challenges.
Though it seems unlikely, Tim Cook and Indira Jaising have something in common besides membership in Fortune’s 2018 ranking of the World’s Greatest Leaders. Cook (No. 14) is the wealthy CEO of Apple, the most valuable publicly traded company on earth; Jaising (No. 20) is an Indian lawyer who cofounded an NGO called Lawyers Collective, which promotes human rights issues. Yet they share this trait: Both have multiplied their organizations’ effectiveness by harnessing the power of unbundling. Following their example is a new imperative for the best leaders.
April 10, 2018 • Category: "Big Little Lies", Times Up •
Comments Off on HBO Boss on ‘Big Little Lies’ Impact, “Earned” Raises and Addressing Pay Parity
HBO programming chief Casey Bloys gave a really interesting interview to The Hollywood Reporter, talking about the very impressive influence of Big Little Lies and Reese’s role within this:
HBO Boss on ‘Big Little Lies’ Impact, “Earned” Raises and Addressing Pay Parity
When Casey Bloys got his first of two major promotions in early 2016, the HBO executive took a good hard look at the suite of dramas he had inherited and wondered just one thing: Where were all the women?
On the comedy side, where Bloys had been in charge since 2013, he and his team had championed such female-fronted series as Enlightened, Veep, Getting On, Insecure and, of course, Girls. But now the drama lineup that he was suddenly responsible for skewed heavily male, with a mix of series that included True Detective, Game of Thrones and, then, the forthcoming Westworld. “The fact was we hadn’t really had a female-skewing drama since Big Love,” he says, referencing the polygamy hour that ran from 2006-11. “And so we became very interested in diversifying the slate.”
Two years later, much has already changed. In fact, Bloys, who was upped to president of programming later that spring, is coming off a months-long awards season in which his first big female drama, Big Little Lies, swept nearly every category it was in. The accolades followed record ratings and an enviable spot at the center of the cultural conversation — and proceeded significant raises for a cast led by producer-stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, who are said to be earning in the $1 million per episode range for season two. “A show like that is a gift to a network,” says Bloys, who credits Witherspoon and Kidman for identifying its potential and bringing it to the network. His boss, chairman and CEO Richard Plepler, lavishes similar praise: “Reese and Nicole had the vision to know what this could become,” he says. “They brought us a jewel and their enthusiasm became infectious, not only with the Big Little Lies team but throughout all of HBO.”
And when the limited-turned-ongoing series returns in 2019, with the original cast plus Oscar winner Meryl Streep, it’ll join a lineup that’s lighter on testosterone — or at least heavier on estrogen. In July, HBO will introduce Sharp Objects, centered on an even more complicated woman played by Amy Adams; and after that, My Brilliant Friend, about a lifelong female friendship. There are others, too, including projects from Misha Green (Underground) and Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley) as well as a second collaboration between Kidman and Big Little Lies’ writer/producer David E. Kelley. Bloys has been similarly focused on moving more women behind the camera, too, with his ratio of female to male writers and directors working its way to 50 percent.
With Big Little Lies back in production, Bloys sat down at the company’s corporate headquarters in New York and talked about those hefty raises, the impact of the Time’s Up movement and how he intends to remain competitive without writing nine-figure producer checks.
One of your execs found herself in hot water last month when she sat on stage at a conference in Israel and said, “From a budget standpoint, going into season two of Big Little Lies without any options in place we’ve been … short of raped.” I’m hoping you can clarify the point that she was trying to make, since it got lost in the drama of her word choice.
Here’s what I will say: obviously it was a really unfortunate statement, not just the choice of words but also the statement because it’s not reflective of how we feel as a network. Let me just say this about Big Little Lies season two. Whatever anybody was paid was 100 percent earned and well worth it. This show was a giant hit for us and for the industry. I know there’s fascination with the negotiations but, listen, they earned it. So, [the comment] was not reflective of how we feel, or how [Francesca Orsi, HBO’s drama chief] feels. And she feels terrible. I know she’s reached out to all the players on the show, and I will say while they were not happy about it they have been incredibly gracious and it actually has led to larger conversations about the choice of the word [raped] and why it’s used.
Will it change the way you go about making deals going forward? As in, will you move away from the one-season contracts?
Not really. Look, Big Little Lies is a unique case. But our business affairs group has been doing this a long time and we tend to do fair deals that people feel good about on both ends and that was absolutely the case here.
Reese and her A Wrinkle In Time co-stars and director can be seen on the cover of the March 21st issue of UK Stylist magazine – with a fantastic new book-themed interview and photoshoot! Read the interview below, find the photoshoot in our Gallery, and pick up a copy if you can….
Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon on the importance of feminist storytelling
Ava DuVernay, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling on rewriting the story books and the power of the written word.
“I recently got hate-tweeted by the President,” begins Oprah Winfrey, looking like the most relaxed woman in the USA. “Since then, I’ve been asked, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ Well, did you see that meme a couple of years ago: ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’? I don’t have time for that. I’m not going to focus one minute of my energy on that. I’m going to stay in the light.”
“Things I don’t have time for: that,” laughs Reese Witherspoon, sitting opposite her. Mindy Kaling interjects: “If you’ve been to the Promised Land, which is where Oprah lives, and you think about whether she is going to spend time thinking about a tweet or if she’s going to live her life, you would understand why she doesn’t have time for that.”
As storytellers go, Oprah Winfrey is one of the greats (and yes, her home in Montecito, California, is called The Promised Land). But she’s also a long-time supporter of other storytellers, having launched the influential Oprah’s Book Club back in 1996 via her incredibly successful TV show.
In fact, in this room there’s a power quadrant of women who are determined advocates of books – Reese Witherspoon via her monthly Instagram book club and adapting numerous titles for the big and small screen (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber) through her production company Hello Sunshine; Mindy Kaling, author of New York Times bestsellers Why Not Me? and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?; and Ava DuVernay, the director of A Wrinkle In Time, in which all three star.
The trio play Mrs Which (Winfrey), Mrs Whatsit (Witherspoon) and Mrs Who (Kaling), three celestial beings and superheroes who guide a young woman of dual heritage across space to search for her father. It’s based on the book of the same name, which was finished in early 1960 but initially rejected by many publishers for being, as hypothesized by the author Madeleine L’Engle, a sci-fi novel with a female protagonist and blurring the lines between a children’s and adult’s book. Finally published in 1962, it went on to become a classic. As I write, the film is second in the US box-office charts to Black Panther – proof, should Hollywood need it, that films telling diverse and fantastical stories, that are told by all voices, are both necessary and profitable.
Reese can be seen on the cover of the new April issue of Marie Claire UK – it’s the same interview as the earlier US edition, but it has a couple of new photos from the shoot. I love this photoshoot, and I’m glad they’ve chosen a slightly different shot for this cover. Pick up a copy asap if you can, and find the scans in our Gallery:
Reese made an appearance on Good Morning America on Wednesday to promote A Wrinkle In Time. She chatted about her recent visit to her Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Time’s Up, the importance of representing women in film, Big Little Lies season 2, Little Fires Everywhere with Kerry Washington, and her upcoming Untitled Morning TV Show with Jennifer Aniston. Reese also received a special message from Dolly Parton who had been on the show last week; Reese mentioned that she “has a show coming on in about a month” in which she interviews Dolly Parton, so we’ll keep an ear out for more information on that in the coming weeks! Watch the interview below, and find screencaptures in our Gallery:
Reese promoted A Wrinkle In Time on two US late night chat shows this week – The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and Late Night With Seth Meyers. On Stephen Colbert on Wednesday night, Reese chatted about a Bruce Springsteen Broadway Show she went to, Oprah’s on-set ‘rules’, Times Up, and Big Little Lies season 2 (they start it next week!). She then met US figure skating Olympian Adam Rippon, who she had shared some mutual admiration with during the recent Winter Olympics. Reese wore a little blue dress by Roksanda on this show.
The day after, she made an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers and chatted about the movie and her co-stars, her appearance hosting SNL in 2001 (that was Seth Meyers’ first appearance on the show), and Big Little Lies season 2. Reese hilariously demonstrated how she responded when she found out that Meryl Streep agreed to join the show! I loved this interview and Reese’s look on the show – it reminded me of late 90’s Reese!
There a few clips from the show further down this post (we’ll have more in our video archive when it’s launched) and photos and HD screencaptures in the Gallery:
Legally Blonde 3
Untitled TV Project with Jennifer Aniston
Little Fires Everywhere
Untitled Producing Project with Kristin Wiig
Are You Sleeping
Luckiest Girl Alive
Tiny Beautiful Things
Barbie origins project
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