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Author Stephen Galloway's new biography Leading Lady is about the trailblazing movie executive and philanthropist Sherry Lansing. It traces her groundbreaking journey to become the first female head of a major motion picture studio, shares behind-the-scenes tales from movie sets and Hollywood boardrooms, and explains what inspired her to walk away from it all to start the Sherry Lansing Foundation. A look at Lansing's life and career, and a revealing portrait that portrays a dynamic woman who was unafraid to push boundaries, change career paths and achieve the life she wanted. Michael Douglas, the Producer and Academy Award Winning Actor will moderate.
As the president of 20th Century Fox and CEO of Paramount Pictures, Sherry Lansing defied expectations, rising to the top of the ranks in a town notorious for its boys' club mentality. Her career was unprecedented at a time when most industry women were expected to become secretaries or starlets. She helped bring Oscar-winning movies and blockbusters to the silver screen — from Kramer vs. Kramer and Fatal Attraction (where she made the crucial decision to cast Glenn Close) to Forrest Gump, Titanic, Saving Private Ryan and many others. Later, when she was at the top of her game, she left it all behind to start the Sherry Lansing Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports cancer research, public education and other fund raising initiatives.
During her 30 years in the motion picture business, Sherry Lansing was involved in the production, marketing and distribution of more than 200 films, including Academy Award winners Forrest Gump (1994), Braveheart (1995) and Titanic (1997). Throughout her film career, Lansing earned a reputation as a trailblazer, a visionary leader and a creative filmmaker. In 1980, she became the first woman to head a major film studio when she was appointed President of 20th Century Fox. Later, as an independent producer, Lansing was responsible for such successful films as Fatal Attraction, The Accused,School Ties, Indecent Proposal and Black Rain. Returning to the executive ranks in 1992, she was named Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures and began an unprecedented tenure that lasted more than 12 years (1992 - 2005), during which the studio enjoyed enormous creative and financial success.
The Sherry Lansing Foundation (SLF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to cancer research, health, public education and encore career opportunities, was formed in 2005. Among the SLF’s initiatives is the EnCorps STEM Teachers Program, founded by Lansing to transition corporate professionals and military veterans into top quality California public school math and science teachers. Lansing is also a co-founder of the Stand Up To Cancer initiative, which funds collaborative, multi-institutional cancer research “Dream Teams.” Lansing graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree from Northwestern University in 1966.
Stephen Galloway the Executive features editor of the Hollywood Reporter is a critically acclaimed entertainment reporter and winner of the Entertainment Journalist of the Year Award in 2013. He has interviewed a who’s who of Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Denzel Washington, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and George Clooney. He also created the Reporter’s acclaimed roundtable series, featuring the likes of Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. In 2014, he was named the Cosgrove Visiting Artist at Loyola Marymount University, where he continues to host the interview series The Hollywood Masters. Born in the United Kingdom, he holds an M.A. from Cambridge University and is a graduate of the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies.
Michael Douglas first came to prominence co-starring with Karl Malden in one of the most popular television series of the ‘70’s The Streets of San Francisco. Frequently recognized for selecting projects that reflect his interest in a broad range of public concerns and social mores he has chosen such politically influential and controversial motion pictures as The China Syndrome; Falling Down and Traffic as well as films with wider popular appeal such as Fatal Attraction, Romancing the Stone, Basic Instinct, The American President, The War of the Roses and Disclosure. A veteran of over 40 films, Douglas received the Academy Award as Best Actor in 1987 for his performance in Wall Street.
A noted film producer he began his career producing the Academy Award winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. A critical and commercial success, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest won five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress. He also produced The China Syndrome and Romancing the Stone amongst others.
In 2007 Douglas reprised his Oscar winning role as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor and starred in Solitary Man.
In 2013 Douglas was awarded an Emmy, a SAG award and Golden Globe as Best Actor for his portrayal of famed entertainer Liberace in the HBO production of Behind the Candelabra. He also starred in the comedy hit Last Vegas and most recently in Marvel’s Ant Man.
In 1999, Secretary General Kofi Annan named Douglas as a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a concentration on nuclear proliferation and the control of small arms. He is an honorary board member of Ploughshares, and has actively supported a number of artistic, social and environmental advocacy groups such as The American Film Institute, The Center for Non Proliferation Studies, The Cancer Research Institute and Global Green.
Douglas has received numerous awards for his artistic and public work, including the 2009 AFI Lifetime Achievement Award; the 2010 New York Film Society’s Charlie Chaplin Award; the Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center; the Christopher Reeves Foundation Honor and the Courage Award from Cedars-Sinai Research for Women’s Cancers.
Michael Douglas is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones. The couple has a son, Dylan and a daughter Carys. Douglas also has a son, Cameron, from a previous marriage.