Reese earned another important accolade today – she was named on Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women list. Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list is a ranking that is put out every year looking at the 50 most powerful women in business. Four criteria are considered: the size and importance of the business, the direction of the business, the social and cultural relevance, and the trajectory of the woman’s career. Reese was not eligible for the main 50, but was featured as their special ‘number 51’ – read more below, and see the full list here:
Fortune’s Most Powerful Women
It’s MPW day. It’s a big day for us here at Fortune MPW HQ: The 2017 list of the Most Powerful Women in Business is out!
Racing into the top spot—for the third year in a row—is General Motors CEO Mary Barra. Rounding out the top 5: PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi (more on her later), Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
In all, the list includes seven newbies, one return, and 26 CEOs who, together, control a total market cap of $1.1 trillion. We have all the juicy details—including who’s off, who’s on, and who’s on our radar—below.
But before we get to that, it’s worth pointing out that this year marks Fortune’s 20th list, a testament to the importance we place on charting and celebrating these women’s careers. For more, I encourage you to read this editor’s letter, in which our fearless leader, Cliff Leaf, reflects on the history—and continuing necessity—of the ranking. As my co-editor on the list, Beth Kowitt, tells Cliff, covering the ever-evolving story of women in business is “complicated—and critically important, surprising, fascinating, and inspiring too.”
MORE FROM THE MPW ISSUE
• New women on the block. While the MPW list always includes women from a diverse range of businesses, this year’s newcomers have raised the bar: all seven hail from different industries. From energy (PG&E CEO Geisha Williams) to toys (Mattel CEO Margo Georgiadis) to retail (Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillion), they provide a peek into the diversity of global business today.
• MPWs in waiting. While these 10 women didn’t make the official list, they did catch our eye. We wouldn’t be surprised to see many of them grace the top 50 ranking in years to come…
• She’s No. 51, y’all. We have a tradition of naming a “bonus” MPW—No. 51—a distinction that goes to a woman who doesn’t technically fit our parameters when it comes to P&L and market cap, but who nevertheless captures the list’s powerful, business-savvy spirit. This year that spot goes to Hollywood multihyphenate Reese Witherspoon. For those keeping score at home, Witherspoon has launched a lifestyle startup as well as a multi-platform content company; and produced hits including Gone Girl, Wild, and Emmy fav Big Little Lies—all while still landing big, juicy acting roles for herself.
Reese graces the cover of the new October issue of US Glamour magazine, and inside she writes an article for the magazine about empowering women in Hollywood and promoting women’s rights. She touches on some of her female-driven projects including Wild and Big Little Lies, as well as A Wrinkle In Time, her children’s response to her producing work, and her goals with Hello Sunshine. It’s a really good read, and you can find the full article here. The article is accompanied by a fun and fantastic new photoshoot – find that, in HQ, in our Gallery!
Reese Witherspoon Extends Overall Deal With ABC Studios
Reese Witherspoon is extending her overall deal with ABC Studios for another year through her new company, Hello Sunshine. Under the pact, Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine’s head of film and television Lauren Levy Neustadter will develop comedy and drama TV projects for the studio.
Witherspoon previously had an overall deal at ABC Studios though Pacific Standard, the production company she co-founded with Bruna Papandrea. The pact yielded multiple sales and an ABC drama pilot in 2016 written by Meaghan Oppenheimer. Papandrea exited the company last year to start a new venture.
Witherspoon, who recently executive produced and starred in HBO’s buzzy limited series Big Little Lies, is repped by CAA, LBI, and Hansen Jacobson.
Inside Vanity Fair’s First Founders Fair with Reese Witherspoon, Sasheer Zamata, Tory Burch, and More
At Vanity Fair’s inaugural Founders Fair last April, entrepreneurial women—including Tory Burch, Reese Witherspoon, and the co-chairs of the Women’s March—talked about what it takes.
While there’s ample evidence that there are still ceilings for professional women to shatter (Exhibit A: the White House), female entrepreneurs are having a moment. This was plain to witness at the first Vanity Fair Founders Fair, at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, in April, where risk-takers, business leaders, and investors shared stories of having ignored naysayers and turning bright ideas into businesses. Tory Burch, in conversation with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, explained why she firmly believes retail still has a place—alongside e-commerce—in her eponymous fashion empire. The national co-chairs of the Women’s March told how they turned angst from disparate Facebook groups into 1.2 million placard-wielding, pink-hat-wearing demonstrators the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. Reese Witherspoon—a producer, Oscar-winning actress, and the founder of lifestyle brand Draper James—revealed how she still isn’t taken as seriously as her male counterparts. “A guy has one hit and they say he deserves an Oscar. One guy will have a hit at Sundance and he gets Jurassic Park,” she said. “A woman has a hit at Sundance and it takes her like six more movies to get a big movie.” Indeed, grit was a theme of the event. Julie Deane, founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company, described how she started her business by calling a shopkeeper every 35 minutes for almost two days until he revealed the name of a key supplier. “This is where being the most tenaciously annoying person and the best nagger in the world really comes into its own,” she declared. With founders such as Deane growing in force, the glass ceiling doesn’t stand a chance.
Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon to Star in Series About TV Morning Shows
More than a decade after Friends wrapped its run, star Jennifer Aniston is plotting her return to the small screen.
In one of the largest TV packages to date, Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are attached to star in an untitled series exploring morning shows and the larger New York media scene that they inhabit.
The package, which has not yet hit the market, is expected to be taken out to premium cable outlets like HBO and streaming services including Netflix. Given the stars attached, it is expected to draw significant interest from multiple bidders.
The project is based on an original idea and is being spearheaded by former HBO head of drama Michael Ellenberg and his newly launched film and TV production company Media Res. Jay Carson (House of Cards) is attached to pen the script and exec produce. Academy Award nominee Steve Kloves (Wonder Boys, Harry Potter) will executive produce. Witherspoon will also executive produce alongside her Hello Sunshine banner topper Lauren Levy Neustadter. Aniston also will be credited as an executive producer.
Aniston and Witherspoon, who memorably guest starred as Aniston’s younger sister on Friends, have remained friends over the years.
The THR 100: Hollywood Reporter’s Most Powerful People in Entertainment
The second annual ranking brings new blood (Sony’s Tony Vinciquerra), stars who also produce (welcome, Reese!) and two Jenkinses (Barry and Patty), along with the movers and multihyphenates who make the town run and the stock prices soar.
Who in this town has actual power, anyway? In short, the people on this list do.
In compiling the THR 100, our second annual ranking of Hollywood’s most powerful people, we used one overarching criterion: the power of “yes.” THR 100 essentially is a greenlight list: who has the authority to take projects from a no to a yes or the talent and track record to make what he or she wants. There are objective factors, like the size of an executive’s empire (owning it helps, a la Shari Redstone), access to vast sums of money (both Megan Ellison and David Ellison) or the number of series a showrunner has on the air and their ratings (congrats, Ryan Murphy).
Then there’s the subjective element of heat around town: “juice,” for lack of a better word. The Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox is far more profitable than Netflix, but Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos rank higher because there’s no company more the subject of Hollywood fascination and envy these days than theirs. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman probably will end up grossing less worldwide than F. Gary Gray’s The Fate of the Furious, but the fact that Jenkins broke ground for female directors lands her (and not him) on the list. And so on.
In dozens of off-the-record conversations with top players, our team got an honest assessment of the pecking order at TV networks and film studios, the influence of talent agencies and the true value of stars (hint: It helps a lot when you also produce). Then the internal debate began: We started with 2016’s list but weren’t beholden to it. Some have risen significantly (producer Jason Blum rockets from 98 to 40 thanks to the surprise hits Get Out and Split), some have dropped (STX’s Bob Simonds and Adam Fogelson had a rough year at the box office) and some have fallen off entirely (sorry, Ben Affleck). And while Hollywood’s upper echelon remains overwhelmingly white and male, it’s a small sign of increasing inclusiveness that the number of women on the list (24, up from 19) and people of color (17, up from 10) are on the rise.
So congrats to everyone on the THR 100. You have actual power in this town.
98/100 Reese Witherspoon Actor/producer
The 41-year-old Oscar winner has emerged as one of the most formidable producers in film and television, snapping up new projects with a keen eye on adaptations and vehicles for other actresses. Her acting day job has yet to slow down, with upcoming roles in Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time and late-summer romantic comedy Home Again. She’ll also take the occasional gig from her own Hello Sunshine shingle — most notably HBO’s hit Big Little Lies.
BIG WIN Assembling an A-list cast, Nicole Kidman for one — in HBO’s Big Little Lies.
BIG BET Teasing the possibility of a second BLL season.
Best advice I’ve received about power I had the privilege of working with Oprah Winfrey on a movie for three months this year, and she taught me so much about business. She does not waste a minute of her time, and she does it all with grace and style and humor. She is hustle personified.
What I’ve learned about my job from my kids My kids help me understand emerging platforms and the opportunity there to reach a broader audience. It inspired me to expand my production company into digital and mobile content for women and create a dialogue on social media with my fans.
My primary news source The Wall Street Journal, the Skimm and Business of Fashion.
Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Sets Two Novels For Screen
Reese Witherspoon’s new company Hello Sunshine has set up to produce the Gail Honeyman novel Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and the Catherine Steadman novel Something in the Water.
The latter will be adapted by Julia Cox and was acquired by Fox 2000 for Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter to produce with Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey and Jaclyn Huntling. Witherspoon will develop that one solely to produce, but Eleanor Oliphant will be a potential star vehicle for her.
Witherspoon, who produced the book-generated films Gone Girl and Wild and the HBO series Big Little Lies before splitting with Pacific Standard partner Bruna Papandrea, formed Hello Sunshine and set Neustader to be Head of Film and TV, with the goal of continuing to find female-centric literary properties for film and TV projects.
Both of these books are by female first-time authors. Eleanor Oliphant is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine who goes from living a lonely life to realizing the only way to survive is to open your heart. The novel was just published by the Penguin Random House imprint Pamela Dorman Books. Something in the Water is about a woman whose life is on the upswing. She’s about to get married and is establishing a successful career as a documentary filmmaker. Then she’s thrown a curveball that challenges her ethics and priorities and her life begins to slip from her grasp. APA sold the book and reps the scribe and author. The novel will be published by Bantam in the U.S. and Simon & Schuster in the UK after making a splash at the London Book Fair.
Eleanor Oliphant author Honeyman is repped by The Artists Partnership, Emily Hayward Whitlock and Madeleine Milburn Ltd.
Reese is currently taking part in a live panel at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference. She’ll be talking about starting and developing her businesses in the panel entitled ‘That’s Entertainment: Looking for the Next Stage’. She talks about how she had the choice of whether to take Big Little Lies to Netflix or HBO, how she identified a market for more female-driven work, and how seeing how her kids interact with media has influenced her business choices, e.g. using YouTube and social media. Watch the live stream below, and we’ll have more coverage for you after the event too…
The 20th Annual
Milken Institute Global Conference
“Building Meaningful Lives”
April 30 – May 3, 2017 | Los Angeles
The Global Conference convenes the best minds in the world to tackle the most stubborn challenges. That commitment to the power of ideas has set this event apart for two decades. It is a unique setting in which the individuals with the capital, power and influence to move the world forward meet face-to-face with those whose expertise and creativity are reinventing industry, philanthropy and media.
Expand your network of accomplished and influential people — 3,500 attendees from 50 countries, all senior decision-makers in their fields.
Julia Boorstin, Senior Media and Entertainment Correspondent, CNBC
Leslie Moonves, Chairman and CEO, CBS Corporation
Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO, Fox Networks Group
Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix
Reese Witherspoon, Actress; Producer
Jeremy Zimmer, CEO and Founding Partner, United Talent Agency (UTA)
Is bigger better in the entertainment industry? Scale matters in the quest to profit in expanding overseas markets and compete with the giants created by mergers among media and entertainment providers. This session will bring together senior industry leaders to address a range of questions on the effects of megamergers and intensifying global competition.
How will new competition in new markets, both domestic and abroad, realign the landscape and affect the prominence of Hollywood?
Will overseas markets influence the nature of the content produced domestically? Could it lead to greater diversity of stories and narratives?
How stable are the new revenue streams generated by new technologies? How do companies and individuals invest in new products and creative people in this environment?
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