The mission of THE PRODUCERS GUILD WEEKEND SHORTS CHALLENGE is to support talented emerging producers.
In 2013 the Producers Guild Weekend Shorts Challenge will be honoring the life and legacy of Laura Ziskin by providing assignment details based off of her work.
After graduating from the USC School of Cinema-Television and serving an
apprenticeship under such producers as Jon Peters and Chuck Barris, Laura
Ziskin embarked on a career that would see her established as one of
Hollywood’s leading independent producers and studio executives with a passion
for discovering new talent.
In 1984, Ziskin partnered with Sally Field in Fogwood Films and
produced Murphy’s Romance, which marked her first "Produced by”
credit and yielded an Academy Award® nomination for James Garner as Best Actor.
She also produced No Way Out starring then newcomer Kevin Costner and
Gene Hackman. In 1990, she was Executive Producer of Pretty Woman, which
remains one of the highest grossing films in Disney’s history.
Through the early 1990s, Ziskin
continued to establish herself with critically and commercially successful
forays in a wide variety of genres. In 1991, Ziskin produced the comedy hit What
About Bob? starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss and the critically
acclaimed drama The Doctor starring William Hurt and Christine Lahti. In
1992, Ziskin produced Hero, directed by Stephen Frears and starred
Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia, and Geena Davis. In 1994, she produced To
Die For starring Nicole Kidman (winner of a Golden Globe as Best Actress –
Musical or Comedy) and directed by Gus Van Sant. She also developed and
served as Executive Producer of Columbia Pictures’ As Good as it Gets,
which garnered Academy Awards® for stars Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson.
In 1994, Ziskin was named President of Fox 2000 Pictures, a newly formed
feature film division of 20th Century Fox. Under her
stewardship, Fox 2000 released such films as Courage Under Fire, One Fine
Day, Inventing the Abbotts, Volcano, Soul Food, Never Been Kissed, Fight Club,
Anywhere but Here, Anna and the King and The Thin Red Line, which
garnered seven Academy Award® nominations including Best Picture.
After several successful years as an executive, Ziskin left Fox 2000 to
plunge back into active production, adding a variety of long-form television
work to her resume, including Dinner With Friends for HBO and the live
broadcasts of Fail Safe with George Clooney leading an all-star cast.
Ziskin became a part of motion picture history In May 2002, when Columbia
Pictures released her production of Spider-Man, directed by Sam Raimi
and starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and Willem Dafoe. In its
opening weekend, Spider-Man grossed $114.8 million, making it the
largest domestic opening in Hollywood history to that point, and the movie
surpassed $800 million in worldwide box office gross. The film’s two
sequels, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3, likewise were among the
highest-grossing films of their respective years. In 2005, Ziskin became
the first women to be honored with the Producers Guild’s David O. Selznick
Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion pictures, the first woman to be so
Following her diagnosis with breast cancer, Ziskin partnered with with
Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the Noreen
Fraser Foundation and Ellen Ziffren to create the charitable organization Stand
Up To Cancer in 2008. To date, the organization has provided $161 million
in grants to cancer research. In 2011, ir recognition of her work with
Stand Up to Cancer, Ziskin received the Producers Guild’s Visionary
Award—again, the first woman to be recognized with the award.
Ziskin passed away on June 12,
2011, leaving a timeless legacy of outstanding filmmaking. Her final film
credit was last year’s franchise reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, for which filming was completed
just a couple of months before her passing.