Which stars’ powers are on the upswing?
Alan Ball ”American Beauty”’s Oscar win got Ball rolling, and his momentum hasn’t slowed. With ”Six Feet Under,” he was given a large plot of leeway and a seemingly impossible task: Best HBO’s best, ”The Sopranos.” Amazingly, he pulled it off: In its first year, ”SFU”’s ratings ran a fatter numbers racket than Tony did his frosh season.
Andrew Slater Capitol Records’ new president-CEO hails from his own Andrew Slater Management firm, where he represented (and produced) Macy Gray, Fiona Apple, and the Wallflowers — i.e., new domestic acts, something Capitol has had trouble breaking in the past. (Its biggest hit last year: ”The Beatles 1.”)
Alliance Atlantis Hollywood’s other AA isn’t Hollywood’s at all. It’s a Toronto-based outfit that’s cleaned up on the small screen (”Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows,” ”Nuremberg,” CBS’s megahit ”CSI,” 27 Emmy nominations) and looks poised to do the same on the big screen (”The 51st State” with Samuel L. Jackson; ”Dirty Deeds” with John Goodman). The upshot: a recent 64 percent quarterly revenue jump. Oh, Canada!
Mosaic Media Group A jamboree of giants, this 2-year-old production house/management titan has interests as diverse as ”Rollerball,” the Wayans brothers, Jim Carrey, and the Goo Goo Dolls. As if that weren’t enough, it recently acquired Family Tree Entertainment, which manages such urban heavyweights as OutKast.
Stephen E. Ambrose As the muse of the Spielberg-Hanks cabal, historian Ambrose (the Shelby Foote of WWII) has arguably done more for the Greatest Generation’s resurgence than Viagra, while simultaneously making himself a cottage industry via a string of best-sellers (”Band of Brothers,” ”Citizen Soldiers”), a TV adaptation, and talking-head appearances.
Lasse Hallström Say what you want about his gauzy, well-Miramaxed screen baubles (”The Cider House Rules,” ”Chocolat”), when it comes to making Best Picture candidates, this Swedish export is as dependable as a Volvo. And based on early reports, looks like ”The Shipping News” — his next directing effort for the brothers Weinstein — will be getting some attention from Oscar.
John Lasseter/Pixar Animation Studios We’re going to go waaaay out on a limb here and say that ”Monsters, Inc.” will do a fairly brisk business when it opens in November. A bold prediction? Let’s go to the Pixar tape: ”Toy Story,” ”A Bug’s Life,” ”Toy Story 2”… you get the idea. And with Disney’s hand-drawn fare looking creaky, Pixar is poised to transform the mousy animation giant.
Jimmy Fallon Pure boyish charm has propelled ”Saturday Night Live”’s most enthusiastic (and least predictably coiffed) member to the head of the class, co-anchoring the first consistently funny ”Weekend Update” in years with Tina Fey and farming out his talents as host of the MTV Movie Awards. Wisely chosen dramatic bits in ”Band of Brothers” and ”Almost Famous” suggest the juvie jester has big-screen life.
Owen Wilson If a good-natured, marble-mouthed Texan can make it in Washington, why not in Hollywood? Since 1996’s ”Bottle Rocket,” the ”Zoolander” scene stealer has embarked on a two-front career campaign: While a writing partnership with Wes Anderson yields off-kilter winners (”Rushmore,” ”The Royal Tenenbaums”), his acting career is helping to spawn a ”Shanghai Noon” sequel and maybe a ”Meet the Parents” follow-up.
Susan Petersen Kennedy and David Shanks The well-regarded prez/CEO duo replaces Penguin-Putnam’s soon-to-retire honcho Phyllis Grann. They inherit a commercial powerhouse and a host of brand names (Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwell, Nora Roberts); Petersen Kennedy, who founded Riverhead as a leading literary imprint and revitalized Viking with books like ”Bridget Jones’s Diary,” should feel right at home.
Lost Highway Records
On Luke Lewis’ watch, Lost Highway (a Universal Music shingle) has almost singlehandedly spawned an alt-country revolution and a grassroots bluegrass revival, turning out such twang-art smashes as Ryan Adams’ ”Gold” and the now ubiquitous ”O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack. In other words, he’s a man of constant profits.