The Most Powerful Women in Hollywood According to Nikki Finke

by Melissa Silverstein on October 19, 2009

in Awards,Events,News

emilyTonight in Hollywood Elle Magazine will host the annual salute to women in Hollywood.  I am looking forward to the day when we don’t need to highlight women because they will have as much power as men, but in reality, women are nowhere near as powerful as the guys.

The women being ackowledged tonight include: Katie Holmes, Zoe Saldana, Emily Blunt, Renee Zellweger, Robin Wright Penn, Julie Andrews, Julianne Moore, and Bonnie Timmerman. (How come there is no link to the Julie Andrews and Bonnie Timmerman pieces?)

The highlight of the issue includes the most powerful women in Hollywood according to Nikki Finke the feared blogger who writes Deadline Hollywood.

Here’s the intro:

Last year I was on ELLE’s Women in Hollywood power list; this year I was asked to write it. That’s ironic, because I hate power lists more than one-size-fits-all spa robes. These influential jobs are not necessarily comparable. Are the casting directors I included more important than the cinematographers and film editors I didn’t? So what I have is a very subjective roster of women I deem essential to a town run by alpha males who don’t play well with others. Women in general do. In case you’re wondering, 2009 was a lousy year for female producers because the Industry has contracted, so they’re MIA here. But there are still some movie moguls standing, and, even better, TV execs are thriving. My favorite category, however, is the “coaches.” The trick in Hollywood is not just getting power, it’s keeping it, and if women need psychic intuition or telephone therapy or wise advice from showbiz legends for an edge, who am I to judge? Well, I am the judge. It’s my list!

Here are some of the categories on THE LIST.


Tyra Banks, mogulette
So much more than that model show, she seems the likely successor to Oprah both in talk and in other TV programming her production company has cooking.

Beyoncé Knowles, singer, actress
She’s come into her own as an actress (Cadillac Records, Obsessed), pitchwoman extraordinaire (L’Oréal, American Express, Pepsi), and inaugural ball star, and is worth $87 million (No. 4 on the 2009 Forbes richest entertainers list).

Kathryn Bigelow, director, producer
This veteran action director (Point Break, The Weight of Water), unafraid of shocking us, may already have a bead on the Oscar with her latest, The Hurt Locker.

Miley Cyrus, Inc.
Young and gorgeous, rich and bankable, versatile and talented, earns $25 million a year, all in one teen-tween package.

Ellen DeGeneres, comedian, talk show host
She has broken every gay barrier—even Madison Avenue is comfortable with her.

Tina Fey, actress, comedian, writer
She saved NBC’s bacon during the 2008 election with her Sarah Palin bit on SNL and with her Emmy-winning 30 Rock.

Michael Patrick King, writer-director and 2009’s honorary female
He gave us the best years of Sex and the City on TV and can be credited for reviving the chick flick in Hollywood when the movie version grossed $415 million.

Stephenie Meyer, novelist
Delivered Hollywood its hottest franchise in years, the Twilight vampire series. She’s sold 70 million books to date, and the films have grossed $383 million worldwide.

Nancy Meyers, director
One of the few women directors who constantly works (The Parent Trap, What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give) because she’s expert at defining the sexual zeitgeist.

Meryl Streep, actress
She shattered Hollywood’s ageism and sexism; at 60, she’s getting her best and showiest roles.


Elizabeth Gabler, president, Fox 2000 Pictures
She may be low-key, but her studio isn’t—not after The Devil Wears Prada and Marley and Me.

Donna Langley, president, Universal pictures
Even during a recent maternity leave, this executive, responsible for Mamma Mia!, Knocked Up, and The Mummy, continued to be touted as the next-in-line studio topper.

Amy Pascal, cochairman, Sony Pictures
The leader of a dwindling pack of female executives heading movie studios, she’s so dug-in, she’s planning Spider-Man VI.

Mary Parent, office of ceo, chairman, Worldwide Motion Picture Group, MGM
For holding that struggling studio slate together (thanks, Valkyrie!) with chicken wire

Keri Putnam, president of production, Miramax Films
She’s the reason that Miramax Films doesn’t make schlock in the wake of the Weinstein brothers’ departure. The proof? Oscar-favored No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood.

Stacey Snider, ceo, Dreamworks Studios
As Stephen Spielberg’s right hand, she’s had a tough year because of the credit crisis. But now, with the company on solid financial footing, she’ll return to powerhouse status.

Nancy Utley, copresident, Fox Searchlight Pictures
This newly named cohead of the studio has a daunting task ahead of her: to continue Fox Searchlight’s amazing run of Oscar nominations and wins (Slumdog Millionaire, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno).


Angela Bromstad, president, prime-time entertainment, NBC Universal
She was in, then out (moved to London to do international development). Now she’s in again, in the crazy-making confusion that is NBC Universal Television. I root for anyone who can terrify the male executives over and under her.

Michele Ganeless, president, Comedy Central
Far be it from me to overlook the executive who airs The Daily Show and The Colbert Report but also, unfortunately, South Park.

Bonnie Hammer, president, nbc universal cable entertainment
She uses her cable platform to program some of the most delicious TV (Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, Royal Pains). She should be running the NBC network.

Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, production, FremantleMedia, North America
The force behind American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and all those other reality shows contributing to the end of civilization.

Judy McGrath, chairman and ceo, MTV Networks
Sometimes the trick is to stay in place while the chaos of falling ratings swirls around you. McGrath, who’s overseen the transmutation from a music channel to a tween/teen/twentysomething hodgepodge, knows that not every show can be The Hills.

Dawn Ostroff, president, The CW
A modern small-screen miracle, Ostroff keeps surviving at a struggling network. Is this the year her canny combo of Gossip Girl and Melrose Place helps the CW climb out of the cellar?

Abbe Raven, president and CEO, A&E Television Networks
She just keeps collecting more TV real estate to rule, since her network bought Lifetime Network and Lifetime Movies.

Anne Sweeney, cochairman, Disney Media Networks, president, Disney ABC Television Group
She navigates treacherous, male-infested seas as the captain overseeing almost everything you and your kids love on TV, from Dancing With the Stars and Grey’s Anatomy to Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.

Nancy Tellem, president, CBS Television Studios Entertainment Group, and Nina Tassler, president, CBS Entertainment
The yardstick by which all other TV execs are measured, with hits such as The Mentalist and The Big Bang Theory, and, they hope, The Good Wife.

Dana Walden, cochairman, 20th Century Fox Television
She defines the term hot in TV programming; even Rupert Murdoch boasts about this prolific supplier of prime-time network and cable series.

Andrea Wong, CEO, Lifetime Entertainment Services
She grabbed headlines by spiriting Project Runway away from Bravo.

Lauren Zalaznick, President of Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, NBC Universal
She may have lost Project Runway, but all those Real Housewives, Top Chefs, Bad Girls, and Tori & Dean on Bravo and Oxygen have made her tops in women’s TV.

Other categories: the Lawyers; the Wives & Daughters (what a sexist and totally gross category); the Agents; the Coaches and the Casting Directors; the Negotiators, the Manager and the Publicists.

Congrats to all the women on the list.  You are making a difference.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Helen Hill October 19, 2009 at 12:22 PM

I like so many others read Nikki Finke. Not sure that she’s always right or accurate, but she seems to get the pulse of this town. But I would prefer she not write the power list. She is influential, but her picks say more about her then about the people on the list.

Soirore October 20, 2009 at 7:30 AM

I just dislike that she left out a woman in order to include Michael Patrick King as an “honorary female”. It is not good to be told that a man knows and produces women’s films better than women.

Chris Evans October 20, 2009 at 8:33 AM

That bugged me as well, Soirore, but then I thought, well…it’s the biggest film starring a cast of women of all time. He may not be a woman, but his film surely did something great for women in Hollywood, especially with a cast of women 40+.

Soirore October 20, 2009 at 10:34 AM

Hmmm I do understand your point Chris. I just think that there may have been other ways to appreciate his contibution to women friendly films other than including him in this list.

Melissa Silverstein October 20, 2009 at 11:06 AM

Check out what MPK wrote to Nikki:
“Dear Nikki Finke,
Just a little thank-you for the recognition of the Sex And The City work and the unexpected honor of being made an honorary woman on your Power Women in Hollywood List. The only downside — my salary was just cut in half.
All my best, Michael Patrick King.”

Chris Evans October 20, 2009 at 1:22 PM


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The Most Powerful Women in Hollywood According to Nikki Finke | Women & Hollywood

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