Suzanne and Jennifer Todd are here to say that something good came out of Hudson Hawk. Back when they served as Joel Silver’s associate producer and assistant, respectively, on the 1991 Bruce Willis debacle, the sisters learned their lesson. ”We were all on the set going, ‘Oh, this is so funny! This is going to be huge!”’ laughs Suzanne. ”We’ve never predicted the success of anything since Hudson Hawk.”
Not that they’re strangers to success. After forming their own production company, Team Todd, in 1997, Suzanne, 34, and Jennifer, 30, have become two of Hollywood’s most promising producers. They brought 1997’s Austin Powers to New Line studios (along with Demi Moore), they’ve developed a reputation as talent magnets (see below), and together they’ve become a kind of Elsa Maxwell for the Kate Spade set (their famous all-girl parties are populated with female power-listers). More to the point, they’ve become bellwethers of what producers might be like in the early 21st century.
True, their latest film, Boiler Room — an underrated, testosterone-fueled takedown of stock traders — isn’t setting any box office records, but it is a testament to their drawing power. The Todds wrangled a remarkably hip lineup of male talent, including Giovanni Ribisi as a college dropout seduced by such money-hungry traders as Ben Affleck, Vin Diesel, and Nicky Katt. They’ve also spearheaded HBO’s If These Walls Could Talk 2, a follow-up to their 1996 trilogy of abortion stories. Walls 2 focuses on lesbian relationships, with Sharon Stone, Chloe Sevigny, and Ellen DeGeneres. They are now batting around ideas for a third installment.
The key to their success? Unlike many in Hollywood, they’ve become known for a benevolent hands-on approach. ”I saw a producer on another set screaming and yelling,” says Boiler Room director Ben Younger, ”and I was thinking how Jen was so gentle and had 10 times more impact than that guy.” Adds DeGeneres: ”There’s got to be a reason why they’re not bitches. It could be drugs.”
Or the steady diet of John Hughes movies they fed on while growing up in the San Fernando Valley. Both went on to study film at the University of Southern California before looking for work in Hollywood. After her Joel Silver years, Suzanne formed Moving Pictures with Moore while Jennifer was working for Bruce Willis’ Flying Heart Films. ”I remember thinking I would never be a producer,” recalls Jennifer. ”Richard Donner and Joel Schumacher were all in our little stretch of offices and I thought I’m not colorful enough. But the prototype has changed.”
The two Todds began working together when Suzanne recruited her little sister to work on Moving Pictures’ Now and Then, the 1995 chick flick starring Moore and Rosie O’Donnell. Two years after the film’s release the sisters formed their own company.
They are now planning to send the recently wrapped thriller Memento to Cannes, and they’re casting Arcadia, a teen-ghost love story to be directed by Martha Coolidge. They’ve also just renewed a two-year first-look deal with New Line and have set up shop five minutes from the studio’s headquarters. In their offices, a giant multicolored caterpillar holds court, bookshelves overflow with scripts and movie encyclopedias, and the walls are adorned with posters of Say Anything, Annie Hall, and Disney musicals. What? No Boiler Room? No Austin Powers? ”It’s not about how many of your own movie posters you hang on your wall anymore,” says Suzanne. ”That’s so ’80s.”