Seth G. Abraham
Abraham, the 44-year-old president of Time Warner Sports, is pushing pay per view as the wave of the future, and the numbers back him up: As long as his TVKO network keeps showing matches like April’s Tyson-Holyfield fight (which grossed $75 million), his star will keep rising.
A Toshiba engineer who specializes in heavy equipment and nuclear power, Aoi, 65, has steered his company in a new direction: movies and cable. He is currently negotiating Toshiba’s potential $1 billion investment into Time Warner, giving him access to programming needed to wire Japan for cable.
A new-jack entrepreneur and member of Bell Biv DeVoe, Bivins accomplished a daunting feat this year: He lifted Motown’s faltering sales as executive producer of two albums: Coolin’ at the Playground Ya ‘Know! by Another Bad Creation and Cooleyhighharmony by Boyz II Men.
Hollywood’s newest golden boy is a 30-year-old Irishman who’s two-for-two in Stateside hits. Henry V won him 1990 Oscar nominations for acting and directing, and this year’s Dead Again is a sleeper success, grossing almost $40 million so far.
Joshua Brand and John Falsey
Brand, 39, and Falsey, 40, may be TV’s hottest series creators. Their range extends from the gentle whimsies of CBS’ Northern Exposure to the acutely observed racial struggles of NBC’s I’ll Fly Away. A Lorimar deal may yield a third show by season’s end.
Random House’s new executive editor is playing literary hardball. Godoff, 42, is aggressive in almost every important nonfiction auction and pays unmatchable (some say outrageous) advances — including a whopping $580,000 for a second book by Beauty Myth-maker Naomi Wolf.
James G. Robinson
Though his partly self-funded Morgan Creek Productions has produced hits (Young Guns, Major League) since 1988, Robinson, 56, didn’t reach Hollywood’s inner circle until Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves ($300 million worldwide). His next offering is the $30 million sci-fi thriller Freejack.
Singleton’s highly praised Boyz N the Hood, made for less than $6 million, has grossed $56 million to date and turned the writer-director into a major force at the tender age of 23. One of his next projects is Make Me Wanna Holler, the memoir of ex-con-turned-Washington Post reporter Nathan McCall.
The maverick head of ICM’s New York office, Cohn, 62, is finding it increasingly difficult to hold on to acting superstars. This year Meryl Streep, following the lead of Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Cher, left the Cohn fold for the starrier shores of CAA.
After seven years as chairman of Paramount, Mancuso, 58, was unceremoniously booted this year. His detractors claimed he’d lost control of the studio, green-lighting expensive failures like The Two Jakes. A $45 million breach-of-contract suit against Paramount, settled out of court, gives him time to plot his next move.
The flamboyant Italian financier was deposed in April as chairman of MGM/Pathe by Credit Lyonnais, the bank that financed his $1.3 billion purchase of the ailing studio in 1990. Parretti, 49, has also had to fight accusations that he drained MGM’s coffers to fund other projects.
Peters, 44, didn’t last long as cochairman of Sony Pictures. His lavish style and freewheeling deal making made him persona non grata with his Japanese bosses. Still, Sony had to sweeten his exit with $30 million and a cushy production deal.
The success of Dances With Wolves and The Silence of the Lambs is small consolation for Orion Pictures chairman Pleskow, 67, who has watched his company virtually collapse. As its biggest talents — like Woody Allen — bail out, Orion, $500 million in debt, struggles to stay afloat.
If his last film, 1990’s widely ignored Havana ($9.2 million), was any indication, audiences no longer automatically thrill to Redford’s blond good looks. But the 54-year-old actor-director-environmentalist carries on: He has just directed A River Runs Through It, starring Emily Lloyd and Brad Pitt, due out next year, and he’s filming a new spy thriller, Sneakers, for Field of Dreams director Phil Alden Robinson, in an effort to recapture his old luster.
Silver’s reputation has turned to brass as his extravagant filmmaking style has led to a parade of bombs: The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Predator 2, and Hudson Hawk, which cost $58 million and grossed only $17 million. Silver, 39, does have a safety net: next summer’s Lethal Weapon 3.
With two expensive strikes against him — the misconceived The Bonfire of the Vanities ($17 million) and the smirky Hudson Hawk, Willis has much riding on his newest shoot-out, The Last Boy Scout, due momentarily. If it bombs, Hair Club commercials and Moonlighting reunion movies may start to look awfully good.
A career crossroads looms for TV’s dominant dad: When NBC bids the slipping Cosby Show farewell next May, its star will attempt to reinvent himself as a quizmaster in a revival of You Bet Your Life.
She has a seven-film deal at Hollywood Pictures — but getting people to see the movies is trickier. Hawn, 45, won only middling box office returns ($20 million so far) for Deceived. Her next films, Alone Together and Housesitter, could determine whether her mid-career attempt to shed her ditzy image will work.
The venerable producer’s album Back on the Block won six Grammys this year. But Jones’ TV productions — The Jesse Jackson Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — haven’t been blockbusters, and a falling-out with Michael Jackson kept Jones off his new album, Dangerous. But his Quincy Jones Entertainment Co. just got the rights to the movie version of the best-selling J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets, with Francis Coppola slated to direct.
The chairman of Carolco Pictures boasted 1991’s highest-grossing film so far — Terminator 2: Judgment Day — but Kassar’s free spending (he shelled out $3 million for Joe Eszterhas’ Basic Instinct script and $15 million for Michael Douglas) is out of step with economic reality — and one reason that Carolco carries a copious debt.
Uneasy lies the head that wears Carson’s crown. Critics say Leno straitjacketed his comic style in order to inherit The Tonight Show. Now that he has it (starting next May), he may discover the only thing tougher than getting Johnny’s job: getting Johnny’s ratings.
TriStar chairman Medavoy celebrated his 50th birthday on the awesome set of Hook, the Steven Spielberg fantasy that may determine the executive’s future. TriStar has allowed Medavoy an open checkbook, but if Hook and the upcoming Bugsy ($40 million) flop, it may slam shut.
The box office dive of the $50 million Havana devalued Pollack, 57, as a director, so he temporarily retreated to his role as a producer. His 1991 scorecard: the slob comedy King Ralph ($33.5 million) and the stylish thriller Dead Again ($38.8 million).
Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer
After their $65 million Days of Thunder underperformed in 1989, producers Simpson and Bruckheimer left Paramount for Disney. Since then, the silence has been deafening, but Sessions, a female-detective flick, and Inherit the Mob, about a crime family, could put the 46-year-old producers back in action.
Tartikoff, 42, has moved quickly after jumping from NBC to Paramount: He re-signed Eddie Murphy, and replaced Patriot Games‘ Alec Baldwin with Harrison Ford. But some charge he’s bringing a small-screen mentality to movies, favoring no-name casts and rushing films like next month’s All I Want for Christmas through production.
Written and reported by: Janice Arkatov, Giselle Benatar, Corie Brown, David Browne, Ty Burr, Alan Carter, David DiMartino, Margot Dougherty, Tina Jordan, Jim Oberman, Kelli Pryor, Tim Purtell, Jeffrey Ressner, Lisa Schwarzbaum, Frank Spotnitz, Benjamin Svetkey, Anne Thompson, and Jeffrey Wells