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Elle’s Women in Hollywood Roundtable

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Salon’s Rebecca Traister sits in on Elle’s Women in Hollywood round table discussion on the state of show biz, why there aren’t more women directors, and so on. The group wonders why women don’t go to opening weekends, forgetting that people watch movies lots of other ways than at the multiplex, not than any of them ever see films with the public. While distinguished and credible, the ten are sort of randomly chosen. At the table are:

Moderator/producer Lynda Obst (called one of Tinseltown’s great brains, which is a frightening thought)
Claims Kate Hudson has same power as Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon in getting girly movies green-lit. Because the audience is clamoring for more.

Writer/director Nora Ephron
Thinks Transformers had a great emotional theme, sucks up to Spielberg. Claims to meet only timid girls at film schools. Ever wonder if she still takes calls from Meg Ryan?

Writer/producer Laura Ziskin
Discussing the lack of female directors, drops a bomb,

Our children watched their mothers and said, “Oh, no thank you. I don’t want my life to be like that.”

Writer/director Callie Khouri
Claims she wanted to make a NASCAR movie. So she directed Ya-Ya Sisterhood instead? Just made indie movie with Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes and wonders why no studio wanted it. Then complains about the lack of wish fulfillment in Judd Apatow movies.

Writer/director Patty Jenkins
Liked Spiderman. Admits to concentrating on personal life after making Monster.

Producer Cathy Konrad
Has small child, married to business partner Jim Mangold, admits to scaling back work for family.

Writer/director/producer Kimberly Piece
Loves blowing things up, just made second film.

Writer/producer Andrea Berloff
Has little kid, wonders why more women aren’t in film biz. But she’s fairly new to the business, as World Trade Center was her first produced script.

Writer/producer Margaret Nagle
Breaks away from approved party line by believing babe/nerd hookup in Knocked Up.

Universal president of production Donna Langley (called “that rarest of Hollywood breeds, a female studio head”, as Amy Pascal, wasn’t in the room.)
Points out that despite Jodie Foster’s tiny cameo, lots of women went to see Inside Man starring Denzel Washington. See Queen Latifah, wish fulfillment above.

The discussion was held in August, so Jeff Robinov’s foot hadn’t entered his mouth yet.

These women don’t pay attention to the few women working as TV directors and that reality TV could be a training ground for women (who are usually credited as field producers). Michael Apted started in documentary, after all.

But there’s a big snob factor in features, and never underestimate the insularity of Hollywood. Directors who came from TV, like Dennie Gordon, Betty Thomas, and Mimi Leder, and those who go back and forth, like Nicole Holofcener tend to not get called for big tentpole pictures.

Nikki Finke picks out some high points, but think how lively the discussion could have been, had she sat at the table.

Elle hosts the 14th annual Women in Hollywood Tribute at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills on Oct. 15, when it will honor actresses Lauren Bacall, Scarlett Johansson, Diane Lane, Kate Bosworth, Jennifer Connelly, Amy Adams and director Julie Taymor.

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