Copyright 2001

[ December 5th 2001 ]

Julia Roberts has been named as Hollywood's most powerful actress in a list of the top 100 influential women in the entertainment industry. The 34-year-old, who won an Oscar this year for her role in Erin Brockovich - which earned pounds 182 million worldwide - now commands a fee of pounds 14 million a movie. She is also head of Shoelace Productions, a firm that she has described as "a group of partners - we work for each other as a healthy co-dependency that allows for creative expression and dissension".

Her most recent screen outing was in America's Sweethearts, a comedy that took pounds 68 million at the box office. Roberts seems set for further success with Ocean's 11, a re-make of the old Frank Sinatra "Rat Pack" movie, which also stars Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Roberts, however, was only third on the Hollywood Reporter's list, slipping in behind two women who are far less famous.

In first place was Stacey Snider, chairman of Universal Pictures, who was responsible for blockbusters such as The Mummy Returns, Jurassic Park III, The Fast and the Furious and American Pie 2. She also shrewdly picked up the foreign rights for MGM's Hannibal and Bridget Jones's Diary, both bigger hits in Europe than in America. A mother of two young girls, Snider is one of only three women to have served as chairman of a studio movie division.

In second place was Sherry Lancing, chairman of Paramount, responsible for Tomb Raider, Save The Last Dance and What Women Want, the latter taking pounds 130 million at the box office to become the biggest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Lancing's next hit is expected to be Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz.

In eight place was Oprah Winfrey, who reinforced her powerful influence in the book world in October when author Jonathan Franzen refused to allow his book The Corrections to be featured on her televised book club. Winfrey quickly withdrew her offer. But, after weeks of feuding, the author ultimately voiced his "delight" at being chosen by her.

Madonna was 42nd on the list and will soon be seen in Swept Away, a re-make of Lina Wertmuller's 1974 Italian film, directed by her husband Guy Ritchie. Her Maverick Entertainment record company is about to release Cookie: The Anthropological Mix Tape by Me'shell Ndegoecello, and Alanis Morissette, another signing, is working on new studio album.

Britain's J K Rowling made it to 56th place, thanks to the shrewd deals she made with Warner Bros to not only keep Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone a virtually all-British cast but also helping to make it incredibly profitable. Rowling's inclusion came as it was announced that the film had already taken pounds 39 million at British cinemas, while American grosses have passed the pounds 160 million mark. She is now writing the fifth instalment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Rowling was one place ahead of Martha Stewart, one of America's most popular TV gardening and food personalities, whom the Reporter described as a "happy billionaire homemaker".

Rowling was ahead of Drew Barrymore, whose Flower Films have produced Ben Stiller's new movie, Duplex, and Never Been Kissed, which grossed pounds 72 million. France's biggest hit comedy in years, Amelie, which has been shortlisted for an Oscar nomination, was snubbed in Paris yesterday when it was eliminated from a list of movies eligible for the Prix Louis Delluc, a prestigious critics' prize.

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