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Laura Ziskin

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Also Known As: Laura Ellen Ziskin Died: June 12, 2011
Born: March 3, 1950 Cause of Death: Breast cancer
Birth Place: San Fernando Valley, California, USA Profession: executive, producer, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This producer had worked on a number of successful films before being tapped to head 20th Century-Fox's new division, Fox 2000, in 1994. Laura Ziskin got her start in show business writing for game shows, then became a development executive. For the small screen, she also produced the TV-movie "One Cooks, the Other Doesn't" (CBS, 1983). While working in development, she assisted Jon Peters on the musical remake of "A Star is Born" (1976). Ziskin made her debut as an associate producer on the high-gloss mystery "The Eyes of Laura Mars" (1978), and subsequently formed Fogwood Films with Sally Field, producing "Murphy's Romance" (1985). As an independent, Ziskin produced the thriller "No Way Out" (1987), which helped the careers of Kevin Costner and Sean Young. In 1988, she and partner Ian Sander produced two films featuring Dennis Quaid, the remake of "D.O.A." and Taylor Hackford's "Everybody's All-American." (both 1988).But her biggest success to date came with the hit comedy "Pretty Woman" (1990), which Ziskin executive produced for Touchstone. The following year was a let-down for Ziskin and Touchstone alike, with "What About Bob?" and "The Doctor" failing to find audiences. A switch to Columbia...

This producer had worked on a number of successful films before being tapped to head 20th Century-Fox's new division, Fox 2000, in 1994. Laura Ziskin got her start in show business writing for game shows, then became a development executive. For the small screen, she also produced the TV-movie "One Cooks, the Other Doesn't" (CBS, 1983). While working in development, she assisted Jon Peters on the musical remake of "A Star is Born" (1976). Ziskin made her debut as an associate producer on the high-gloss mystery "The Eyes of Laura Mars" (1978), and subsequently formed Fogwood Films with Sally Field, producing "Murphy's Romance" (1985). As an independent, Ziskin produced the thriller "No Way Out" (1987), which helped the careers of Kevin Costner and Sean Young. In 1988, she and partner Ian Sander produced two films featuring Dennis Quaid, the remake of "D.O.A." and Taylor Hackford's "Everybody's All-American." (both 1988).

But her biggest success to date came with the hit comedy "Pretty Woman" (1990), which Ziskin executive produced for Touchstone. The following year was a let-down for Ziskin and Touchstone alike, with "What About Bob?" and "The Doctor" failing to find audiences. A switch to Columbia resulted in Stephen Frears' "Hero" (1992), a loose remake of 1941's "Meet John Doe", for which Ziskin both produced and supplied the story. She directed her first short film in 1994, "Oh, What a Day! 1914" and produced the marvelous Nicole Kidman tour-de-force "To Die For" (1995), under the banner of Laura Ziskin Productions.

By the time that last film was in release, however, she had been appointed president of Fox 2000, one of several off-shoots 20th-Century-Fox developed to speed up their production and distribution. Since the formation of Fox 2000, Ziskin rounded up an impressive number of hot directors (i.e., David Fincher, John N Smith, Carl Franklin) and writers (e.g., Jon Robin Baitz, David Ives, Lisa Loomer), though most of their film projects never got beyond the development process. Among those released were Edward Zwick's Gulf War drama "Courage Under Fire" and the romantic comedy "One Fine Day" (both 1996) and Pat O'Connor's "Inventing the Abbotts" and the big-budget disaster film "Volcano" (both 1997). In 1996, Fox 2000 also pooled resources with Fox Searchlight to distribute Anthony Minghella's acclaimed, award-winning "The English Patient".

After nearly five years on the job, Ziskin resigned from Fox 2000 in November 1999 and within a month had a production deal at Columbia. After being tapped to serve as the first solo female producer of an Academy Awards telecast in 2002, she returned to the big screen with the highly anticipated feature version of "Spider-Man".

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Oh, What a Day! 1914 (1994) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 What Is a Producer? (2001) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began show business career as a writer for a game show
:
Became a development executive
:
Worked with Jon Peters on developing the 1976 remake of "A Star Is Born"
1978:
First credit as associate producer, "The Eyes of Laura Mars" (Columbia)
1983:
Produced TV-movie "One Cooks, the Other Doesn't" (CBS)
:
Formed Fogwood Films with Sally Field
1985:
First credit as producer, "Murphy's Romance"; starred Sally Field
1988:
Joined in a producing partnership with Ian Sander, produced two vehicles featuring Dennis Quaid, "D.O.A." and "Everybody's All American"
1990:
First credit as executive producer, "Pretty Woman"
1991:
Produced Bill Murray's comedy, "What About Bob?"
1992:
First story credit, "Hero"; also produced
1994:
Directoral debut, with short "Oh, What a Day! 1914" (Touchstone)
:
Formed Laura Ziskin Productions
1994:
Named president of Fox 2000 Pictures
1995:
Produced Gus Van Sant's black satire, "To Die For"
1996:
First Fox 2000 pictures released, "Courage Under Fire" and "One Fine Day"
1997:
Executive produced the Oscar-nominated Best Picture, "As Good As It Gets"
1999:
Resigned from Fox 2000 on November 1; by December had signed three-year production deal with Columbia
2000:
Served as a producer on the live TV broadcast of "Fail Safe" (CBS)
2002:
Was first solo female producer of the annual telecast of the Academy Awards
2002:
With Ian Bryce, served as producer on "Spider-Man"
2007:
Once again produced the telecast of the Academy Awards
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California - 1973

Notes

"When I started producing on my own, the studio powers that be said, 'it's 17-year-old boys--that's who you want to make movies for!' Well, hopefully 17-year-old boys will be interested in the movies I make, but the only way I can function is to make movies I want to see." --Laura Ziskin, quoted in People Extra, Spring 1991.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Julian Barry. Screenwriter. Divorced.
companion:
Alvin Sargent. Screenwriter. Together as of 1991.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Jay Ziskin. Author. Expert on psychology and the law; died June 14, 1997 at age 77.
mother:
Mae Lee Ziskin.
sister:
Randy Ziskin.
sister:
Nina Ziskin.
brother:
Kenneth Ziskin.
daughter:
Julia Barry. Born in 1983.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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