51 JOE ROTH
Founder/Producer, Caravan Pictures
Rank last year: 39 Age: 45 Why he’s down: When Rupert Murdoch balked at contract renewal time, Roth walked as chairman of Twentieth Century Fox, getting out just as his expensive offerings Hoffa, Used People, and Toys flopped. New deal: In his producer’s berth at Disney, he can reportedly greenlight films with budgets below $30 million. The first of them, The Three Musketeers and Geena Davis’ Angie, I Says, arrive this winter. Next big move: Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte start shooting Caravan’s I Love Trouble this month.
52 S.I. NEWHOUSE
Chairman Of Conde Nast Publications
Rank last year: 58 Age: 65 High point: Since he installed Tina Brown as editor of The New Yorker, that wheezy old rag has become the jewel of Newhouse’s $10 billion magazine and book publishing empire (circulation is up 21 percent in the last year). Low point: Newhouse’s unflattering reputation as king of the revolving door grew when the editor of Mademoiselle resigned after just one year. Next big move: Given his notoriously quick trigger finger, a reshuffle at Vanity Fair wouldn’t surprise anyone.
53 JODIE FOSTER
Actress-Director, Head Of Egg Pictures
Rank last year: 65 Age: 30 High point: Sommersby grabbed rave reviews and respectable box office and established her as a romantic lead. New deal: A lucrative pact with PolyGram, which could invest $100 million in movies she produces, including Neil Jordan’s Jonathan Wild. And she doesn’t even have to star in them. Next big move: After Meg Ryan dropped out, she surprised observers by jumping into Maverick with Mel Gibson. X factor: Slow to pick projects—which makes any movie she does an event.
54 ROBERT SHAYE
Chairman, CEO, New Line Cinema
Rank last year: 54 Age: 54 High point: With niche-market hits like Menace II Society, Shaye turned New Line into one of Hollywood’s top independent distributors; Ted Turner’s recent purchase of the company should net Shaye $100 million. Low point: The Ninja Turtles and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises are out of gas; art-film subsidiary Fine Line hasn’t had a breakout hit since 1992’s The Player. Next big move: Shepherding the arty Short Cuts and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues through the fall competition.
55 WHOOPI GOLDBERG
Rank last year: 73 Age: 43 Why she’s up: The $7 million that stingy Disney forked over for her to star in Sister Act 2 makes Julia Roberts her only rival as highest-paid actress. Low point: Her chummy snooze of a talk show quietly expired. Next big move: She’ll star with Ray Liotta in Corrina, Corrina, then play a cop who teams with a dinosaur (yep, you read that right) in T. Rex, a movie she’s making only to avoid a Kim Basinger-type lawsuit for having ditched the project. After that, maybe Pontiac Moon with Ted Danson.
56 MICHELLE PFIEFFER
Rank last year: 72 Age: 35 Why she’s up: While 1992’s Batman Returns confirmed her box office clout, The Age of Innocence proves that, as director Martin Scorsese says, ”she’s the best we have.” Next big move: Starring with Jack Nicholson in Mike Nichols’ Wolf, due next spring. Bottom line: Pfeiffer gets paid $6 million a film to do whatever she wants. Her current options (in various stages of development): Catwoman with Tim Burton, A Thousand Acres with Jessica Lange, and Higgins and Beech with Richard Gere.