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The Influentials: Movies

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James Schamus
President, Focus Features; film professor, Columbia University
Has reinvented the suit. No studio head is more trusted by directors than Schamus, and no wonder: His sensitive and subtle handling not only got Brokeback Mountain made but also took it all the way to the Oscars. A rare executive with heavy-duty artistic credibility, this Berkeley English Ph.D. made his name co-writing scripts with Ang Lee. Now, with the recently promoted producer David Linde, Schamus has built Focus into a director-friendly, defiantly cosmopolitan mini-major that has fostered directors from Sofia Coppola and Michel Gondry to Fernando Meirelles and Todd Haynes.

Bob and Harvey Weinstein
Co-chairmen, the Weinstein Company and Dimension Films
Who else could have single-handedly (and, okay, ham-fistedly) pulled off the largest independent-movie start-up in New York history? Their star may have lost some luster, but they have a bankroll of more than $1.2 billion. It’s already paid for films based on Warhol’s Factory and The Nanny Diaries, as well as stage rights for a spectacle based on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yes, the Weinsteins essentially invented the indie-film market: That’s yesterday’s news. The way they distribute their new capital will dictate the course of New York film production.

Scott Rudin
Producer, Scott Rudin Productions
Forget the tantrums. Rudin is the city’s most powerful artistic triple threat. In film, he’s currently shepherding projects from an enviable list of directors, including the Coen brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Noah Baumbach, and Kenneth Lonergan. On Broadway, he’s co-produced plays for Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Tony Kushner, and, recently, John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Doubt. In publishing, a Scott Rudin book option can make a writer’s career (at least financially). And his forthcoming adaptations read like a Who’s Who of au courant literature: Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections), Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men), and Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay), for starters.

Jane Rosenthal
Co-founder, Tribeca Productions and Tribeca Film Festival
Rosenthal’s partnership with Robert De Niro, Tribeca Productions, has spawned some so-so comedies (Meet the Fockers and Analyze That), a few small gems (Stage Beauty, About a Boy), and one festival that may change New York’s film scene forever. The Tribeca Film Festival started out as a way to boost downtown’s spirits and economy after 9/11, but Rosenthal’s smart commercial partnerships (American Express) have brought glitzy megaplex films to a young fest that might otherwise have fizzled. Tribeca gets better—and more important—every year, both as a destination for film lovers and as a breeding ground for homegrown filmmakers.

Leslee Dart
President, the Dart Group
After Dart was axed by Pat Kingsley from Hollywood powerhouse PR firm PMK/HBH, she pulled a Jerry Maguire and hung out her own shingle three weeks later. A year later, she has partnered with studio expert Amanda Lundberg, Miramax Oscar ace Cynthia Swartz, and PMK’s Robert Garlock and together they’ve attracted a roster that includes some of New York’s biggest movie institutions: Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Jonathan Demme, Mike Nichols, Sydney Pollack, Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Meryl Streep, and Ron Howard.


Lindsay Lohan
Actress
For better or worse, she’s setting a new template for how a teen star grows up. Lohan recently signed on to her sixth indie film in a row, a run that’ll see her collaborate with Oscar winners Meryl Streep, Anthony Hopkins, Kevin Kline, and Adrien Brody. Equally impressive is her uncanny ability to keep herself in the tabs with a parade of debasements that have knocked Paris Hilton into history. And she hasn’t turned 20 yet.

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