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Laura Ellen Ziskin (born 3 March 1950) is an American film producer.

Early life

Ziskin was born and raised in the San Fernando Valleymarker, California, the daughter of Mae Lee and Jay Ziskin, a writer. Her family was Jewish. She is a 1973 graduate of the University of Southern Californiamarker USC School of Cinematic Artsmarker. After graduation, Ziskin started out writing for game shows and then became the personal assistant of Jon Peters. She quickly became a development executive, moving into feature films with Jon Peters' production company where she worked on the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born, starring Barbra Streisand. In 1978, she was the associate producer of The Eyes of Laura Mars.

Production career

Stand Up To Cancer

On May 28, 2008, Ziskin, along with Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the Noreen Fraser Foundation and Ellen Ziffren, announced Stand Up To Cancer. SU2C is an initiative intended to enable cutting-edge research targeting all types of cancer, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, brain cancer, colon cancer, cervical cancer, etc.

Fogwood Films and as an independent producer

Ziskin formed Fogwood Films with partner Sally Field in 1984, and produced Murphy's Romance. As an independent producer, she cast the relatively unknown actors Kevin Costner and Sean Young with veteran Gene Hackman and produced the hit thriller No Way Out for Orion Pictures. 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.

Touchstone Pictures

Ziskin's biggest success to date came with the hit comedy Pretty Woman in 1990, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, which Ziskin executive produced for Touchstone Pictures. The following year was a let-down for Ziskin and Touchstone alike, with What About Bob? and The Doctor both failing at the box office. A switch to Columbia resulted in Stephen Frears' Hero in 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 Nicole Kidman tour-de-force To Die For in 1995, under the banner of Laura Ziskin Productions.

Fox 2000

By the time that last film was in release, 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 directors and writers. Among those released were Edward Zwick's Gulf War drama Courage Under Fire and the romantic comedy One Fine Day and Pat O'Connor's Inventing the Abbotts and the big-budget disaster film Volcano.

In 1996, Fox 2000 also pooled resources with Fox Searchlight to distribute Anthony Minghella's acclaimed, award-winning The English Patient. Ziskin executive produced As Good as It Gets in 1997. The film received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and three acting nods, and its stars, Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, took home the leading role Oscars in the acting categories.

Columbia Pictures

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 Pictures. 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. The film was released on May 3, 2002 to good reviews from critics, went on to break box office records, and became the highest grossing film of 2002. The success of the film led to two sequels, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3.

Breast cancer

In February 2004 she was hit with a diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer, a disease doctors had repeatedly missed previously because of the diffuse type of cancer she had.

Selected filmography as producer and executive producer


  3. NY Times interview

External links

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