If Women Ran Hollywood: Joel McHale, 'New Girl's' Liz Meriwether and Kurt Sutter Answer
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This story first appeared in the Dec. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
It's no surprise that the women who were asked to finish the above sentence ("If women ran Hollywood...") responded either with a touch of bristle (hi, Liz Meriwether!) or thoughtful ideas (the industry would become more inclusive, diverse and collaborative). What was surprising was how many of those asked -- regardless of gender -- think women already run Hollywood. While it's true that the number of women in leadership positions is increasing, equal gender representation remains elusive, with a man still sitting atop every industry conglom.
Joel McHale (actor, Community; host, The Soup): If women ran Hollywood, there would be hit romantic comedies about hunky male strippers, hugely successful film franchises about sparkly vampires and music and dancing competition shows would dominate the airwaves -- wait, are we sure women don't already run Hollywood? If women ran Hollywood, there'd be no need for a separate Women in Entertainment Issue of The Hollywood Reporter -- which means the one you're currently holding is now a collector's item. You should sell this thing on eBay for a small fortune. If women ran Hollywood, 007's new catchphrase would be, "The name is Bond … James Bond. Now tell me all about your day at work." If women ran Hollywood, Universal Studios would have just unveiled "Magic Mike: The Ride."
Gale Anne Hurd (producer, The Walking Dead): Would a Hollywood run entirely by women really be any different? Would casting finally be color- and gender-blind? Women tend to be more inclusive and lead from the ground up rather than the top down. Imagine a collaborative process where assistants' ideas are given as much value as top-level executives': Let the best idea win! Perhaps the traditional hierarchy would evolve until hard work trumps nepotism. Would Hollywood finally become a meritocracy? On the flip side, would there be more sentiment onscreen? Probably not. Content, driven by the marketplace, likely wouldn't change much. And the business would still be populated by passionate, hardworking individuals, male and female, devoted to creating and sharing stories with the world.
Abbe Raven (president and CEO of A+E Networks): I remember years ago when I was a young executive, a colleague of mine said, "A woman will never run this company." As you now know, they were wrong. Not to mention, a powerful, talented woman [Anne Sweeney] is the head of our board. And I have great women who work for me and run major divisions of our company. Personally, I always wanted to be recognized as a successful CEO -- not only as a female CEO. This is such an exciting time in our business, as we can see a critical mass of women executives emerging in Hollywood. Whether you are trying to make a hit show or launch a global marketing campaign, building and maintaining a diversity of leadership at all levels will always yield the most success.
Anne Fletcher (director, The Proposal and The Guilt Trip): This is a hard question for me to answer. I don't really love this subject because it immediately pits men against women and perpetuates the comparisons in our capabilities. The truth is, there are so many women who are at the forefront of this industry, which is the good news. There are more and more women today who are heads of studios, editors, writers, directors, producers, actors, etc. In reality, what we offer and bring to the table, man or woman, is our own unique point of view. So I'd like for our work to speak for itself. But since you're asking -- I'd also like to see healthier food on the craft service table, with a secret stash of M&Ms hidden somewhere for emergencies.