Consistent with Laura’s legacy, The Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement award is given to a woman in the film industry whose leadership demonstrates vision and courage and sets a standard for other women to emulate. An extraordinary woman, Laura Ziskin (1950 to 2011) used her talents, indefatigable energies, and standing in the industry to make wonderful movies and to improve the lives and health of women. One of Hollywood’s leading independent producers and studio executives who was able to penetrate the inner circle of A-list producers, for decades considered an all-boys club, Ziskin produced numerous films during her career beginning with the 1985 film Murphy’s Romance to No Way Out with the then newcomer Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman. A string of hits followed including Pretty Woman, one of the most successful films in Disney’s history which she executive produced in 1990.
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, Anna and the King and The Thin Red Line, which garnered seven Academy Award® nominations including Best Picture. Ziskin also produced the Academy Awards® on two separate occasions, earning multiple Emmy nominations for her work.
She was perhaps best known for her role in producing one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood, the Spiderman Films. Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 are among the highest grossing films in history. Her last film, The Amazing Spiderman was released in 2012.
“Movies are arguably the most influential, important medium in the world. They have a tremendous cultural impact. Because women are now making movies, then women’s ideas, philosophy, point of view will seep into that culture. And that’s never happened in history. Ever, ever, ever. We can’t even see the impact of that yet.”
Laura Ziskin used her standing, her relationships with Hollywood executives and stars to give back to others. After being diagnosed with breast cancer she, along with Katie Couric and former Paramount head Sherry Lansing, created Stand Up to Cancer, a research and advocacy organization. Ziskin produced the historic Stand Up to Cancer television show that was simultaneously televised on all major networks, raising millions for the organization. And she told her story, repeatedly, so that other women suffering from this horrific disease would know that they are not alone.
Gale Anne Hurd is one of the industry’s most respected and innovative film and television producers. Over the course of her career, Hurd has developed and produced films that routinely garner Academy Award nominations, and TV programs that win Emmys and shatter ratings records. By continually selecting daring material, championing technological innovations, and remaining hands-on in her approach, Hurd has carved out a leading position in the previously male-dominated world of the blockbuster, and become a recognized creator of iconic cultural touchstones. After a successful rise from Roger Corman’s executive assistant to head of marketing, Hurd’s production career launched with the production of The Terminator. This success was quickly followed with Aliens, which received seven nominations and two Academy Awards, and the Oscar-winning films The Abyss and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
From the helm of her production company, Valhalla Entertainment, Hurd launched the AMC’s hit drama, The Walking Dead, which she developed and executive produced with filmmaker Frank Darabont. In addition to becoming the highest-rated drama series on television, The Walking Dead was also recently recognized by the DGA for hiring women and minority directors to direct more than half of their episodes. Other Valhalla Entertainment productions include Marvel’s smash hit The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton and directed by Academy Award winner Ang Lee, The Punisher and The Punisher: War Zone; the Academy Award nominated Armageddon; Dante’s Peak; The Relic; Dick; and the Academy Award winning film The Ghost and The Darkness, among many others.
Her producer credits include a number of television movies including HBO’s Emmy nominated Sugartime, the Emmy award-winning Cast a Deadly Spell, The Wronged Man, and Witch Hunt. Hurd is currently developing the feature films The Shipkiller with Arenamedia, The Nameless with Route One and Hellfest with CBS Films as well as a television series adaptation of Annie Jacobsen’s novel, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base for AMC, and Lord Jeffrey Archer’s The Eleventh Commandment with New Franchise Media.
Hurd serves on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors and as an officer of the Producers Guild of America. She chairs the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship Committee and the Executive committee of the Producers Branch at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is a member of the Film Festival Grants Committee.