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.
Q&A: Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern talk sex, ‘Lies’ and a second chapter for their HBO series
Many people thought they had “Big Little Lies” pegged after HBO aired the first episode of the limited series in February. Soapy whodunit. Bitchy behavior. Mommy wars. Privileged women. Impossibly gorgeous homes.
The series invited those judgments and then proceeded to methodically upend them, delivering a nuanced look at motherhood, domestic abuse and, yes, the ways that knee-jerk assumptions can be wrong, damaging and self-sabotaging. Ultimately, it’s about a group of women finding solace and strength in each other.
That dynamic played out among the cast, as we learn from a long conversation with “Big Little Lies” stars Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. In the series, Witherspoon plays Madeline, the community’s queen bee, who clashes with Dern’s steely career mom, Renata. Kidman plays Celeste, envied, elegant, but hiding a secret life of violent abuse.
These actresses adore one another and, in between Dern and Witherspoon planning a vacation together and stories of Dern’s dad, Bruce, visiting the set (“It was a scene with a lot of profanity,” Dern remembers, laughing, “and I think he brought out the best in us”), they spoke about what made the series so special and why they’re eager to bring it back for a second season.
People take this show to heart. They want to talk about it. Has that led to some interesting public encounters?
Kidman: I was on a plane coming out here last night and I had a guy stand up and go, “ ‘Big Little Lies’! Yes!” And I’m kind of embarrassed because of my character. I’m not quite sure how to communicate with people. Am I communicating on behalf of Celeste and saying, “I know”? It’s weird. And then the people sitting behind me told me, “We just really want a Season 2. That’s all we want to say.”
Dern: I think we all want a Season 2!
Nicole and Reese, you’re producers. You can make it happen.
Reese Witherspoon on Southern charm and ‘carrying the baton’
Reese Witherspoon ladled on her Southern charm to host a luncheon in L.A. with Porter magazine’s Lucy Yeomans on Tuesday to celebrate the launch of Draper James on the e-tailer. As Jennifer Garner, Molly Sims, Camilla Alves, Rachel Zoe, Ali Larter and more noshed on friend chicken, strawberry shortcake and sweet tea, the Oscar winner took five to chat with WWD about why Southern women look so good and her latest Hollywood projects.
WWD: Why was getting on Net-a-porter so important to you?
Reese Witherspoon: The global reach is so important. I believe the world is a small place now — we need to be reaching out to all our customers. I think everyone wants a story to be told. I’m telling a story about the American South, which is where I grew up, and the story of my grandmother, who taught me about fashion, getting your hair done and also presenting your best self to the world. We are out there to celebrate those moments that are maybe forgotten, like the baby shower, the wedding party, the garden party. Sometimes you just want to look pretty.
WWD: Why do Southern women always seem to go the extra distance?
R.W.: We’re taught from a very young age to do our hair. Also that color makes you happy. Putting your best self forward but also not taking yourself too seriously. Having fun with fashion. I love the idea that fashion doesn’t have to be about New York or Los Angeles. It’s this whole wide range of people all over our country that are just enjoying fashion and want to see themselves reflected in the media and in the fashion that’s created.
WWD: Even this beautiful house looks Southern.
R.W.: It belongs to my friend Benton Weinstock. She’s from Arkansas. I have my girls from the South who live in Los Angeles that I call my Southern mafia. We are always doing Kentucky Derby parties or having Christmas parties where we all sing carols. It’s really nice to have a bunch of friends here from the South. And it’s nice in the middle of the day, some lunch.
To promote the launch of the new Draper James collection for Net-A-Porter, Reese is on the cover of Net-A-Porter’s magazine The Edit; this is available as an online magazine and also a paper magazine. The spread features a casual yet really beautiful new photoshoot that showcases Reese’s natural beauty, and a really great new interview in which Reese talks about Big Little Lies, the way her career has progressed, her producing work, and Draper James. Be sure to read the interview below, and find the photoshoot in our Gallery. We’ll have scans asap!
She’s an Oscar winner, a producer and runs her own label, but Reese Witherspoon isn’t one to rest on her laurels. She tells Jennifer Dickinson about making Hollywood sit up and listen.
Let’s imagine for a moment what it would be like to be friends with Reese Witherspoon; an incredible multitasker who seems to live in a world where the days consist of 30 hours instead of 24. Firstly, she will look you straight in the eye, then you’ll get that grin, the one that should be an addendum to Maria von Trapp’s My Favorite Things, so great is its power to radiate warmth. You’ll chat over coffee (strong) and you’ll mention the novel you’re reading, leading to an inner-fire-starting discussion about female identity and culminating with Witherspoon ordering the book from Amazon (she’s a very good customer). Then there will be the invitation to the baby shower she’s throwing for a mutual friend, her supportive shout-out on social media when your project gets off the ground, and the late-night text checking your son’s hospital appointment went Ok. And, somehow, instead of making you feel less than, you won’t resent her in the slightest because she’s not perfect and nor does she want to be: she’s just as likely as you to be late for the school pick up, or order margaritas at 5pm after a trying day. She’s on your side and that makes you want to be on hers.
It’s a personality recipe – insight, ambition, diligence, charm – that has made Witherspoon, 41, one of Hollywood’s most successful stars. And, so far, 2017 has been a great year, even by her standards. She’s just wrapped filming on Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, directed by the ever-impressive Ava DuVernay; is celebrating her fashion line Draper James going global via its launch on Net-a-porter; and then there’s Big Little Lies, the Tv phenomenon that actually merited the phrase ‘everyone’s talking about it’ earlier this year.
Reese and 5 other women from this year’s most acclaimed TV series appear on the cover of the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter, as part of their regular ‘Roundtable’ series. The actresses discuss their recent work, their careers, and tackling social issues within their work. The entire interview is below for you to read, and we have the photoshoot images and magazine scans for you in our Gallery. Also within this post are some clips from the discussion; it sounds like the video of the whole interview will be available when its aired on SundanceTV later this month. Reese looks gorgeous in the new photos, and I love reading these interview where she talks about taking a more proactive role in developing quality projects.
Drama Actress Roundtable: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon on “Rage, Sorrow, Grief” and Sexism in Hollywood
Six complex women — also including Nicole Kidman, Jessica Lange, Elisabeth Moss and Chrissy Metz — debate the power and pain of strong females (onscreen and off-) amid a culture of discrimination in the industry and beyond: “I don’t think we’ve ever seen this much misogyny.”
When Oprah Winfrey decided to adapt The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for HBO, she had two actresses in mind to play the role of Lacks’ daughter Deborah. But HBO Films president Len Amato wasn’t interested in her casting ideas: He wanted the media tycoon to be involved onscreen as well as off-. And after some heavy arm-twisting and a little time to get comfortable with the idea, Winfrey, 63, agreed — in part because the role allowed her to showcase, as she puts it, “a whole range of craziness.” It’s the opportunity to explore those layers of character and emotion that has drawn her and five other stars — Nicole Kidman, 49; Reese Witherspoon, 41; Elisabeth Moss, 34; Jessica Lange, 68; and This Is Us breakout Chrissy Metz, 36 — to work on television, as they revealed during The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Drama Actress Roundtable discussion on a Hollywood soundstage in May. “We have the opportunity to show the entire spectrum of human emotion that women have,” says Witherspoon, who, like Kidman, is a producer and star of HBO’s Big Little Lies. “We aren’t just the wives and the girlfriends. We are actually living, breathing people who have insecurities.” During the course of an hour, the six spoke candidly about the unexpected rewards and residue that come with inhabiting complicated women.
You have tackled ageism, sexism, misogyny, depression, domestic abuse, adultery and rape. When was the last time you were genuinely nervous to tackle a storyline?
OPRAH WINFREY (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, HBO) I was genuinely nervous to take on the role of Deborah Lacks because look at this table. I come as the least experienced person at this table. I come as a person who has great respect for the craft of acting — and for years interviewing actresses and being inspired by actresses, but not developing the craft. I was really afraid to do that.
Afraid of what, exactly?
WINFREY I was afraid of making a fool of myself! (Laughter.)
NICOLE KIDMAN (Big Little Lies, HBO) That’s every day.
REESE WITHERSPOON (Big Little Lies, HBO) What are you talking about?! The Color Purple is so amazing.
WINFREY When was that? That was like 30 years ago now. And let me tell you what actually made me even more intimidated: I just finished doing a film with Reese and Ava DuVernay and Mindy Kaling [A Wrinkle in Time], and I just happened to ask Reese, “How many films have you done?” And you said, “Oh, honey child …” (Laughter.)
WITHERSPOON Do you all know how many movies you’ve done?
WINFREY You said, “I don’t know, 100 or so.” I was thinking, “Oh, God, I hope she doesn’t ask me because my number will be like, five, maybe?”
CHRISSY METZ (This Is Us, NBC) Oh, I’ve got you beat. I’ve done maybe one independent movie.
ELISABETH MOSS (The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu) I don’t know if I was nervous about the scenes themselves, but [Margaret Atwood’s] book itself is so beloved, so that was my only hesitation. I wanted to make sure that we were going to do the book justice and do it in the way that it should be done or we were going to get in trouble. I don’t have any fear with scary stories. That’s what I want to do. But I took six weeks to say yes because I wanted to make sure we were going to do a good job.
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?
As posted about previously on our Twitter, Reese is featured in the new issue of People magazine, which is their ‘Most Beautiful’ edition. Julia Roberts is on the cover, and Reese is featured inside as one of their Fabulous Faces of 2017. It has a tiny snippet of Reese talking about her mother and grandmother being her role models, alongside a picture from her 2015 Women’s Health magazine photoshoot. We have the scan in our Gallery for you:
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