On Sunday, The New York Times published a great profile of Donna Langley, the Chairwoman of Universal Pictures.
The article coincided with the announcement that Langley's contract at NBCUniversal has been renewed until 2017, making her the industry's second most powerful woman after Sony Co-Chair Amy Pascal.
Langley has championed two upcoming projects by women directors, Sam Taylor-Johnson's Fifty Shades of Grey (which has the potential for being a female-directed franchise) and Angelina Jolie's Unbroken. It's always good to see women directors on the studio slate, but of course we need more. Jolie's movie won't open until December and Taylor-Johnson's film is due in early 2015.
The Times offers a bit of insight (or perhaps just plain conjecture) on the intersection of gender and success at the top of Hollywood's food chain:
Ms. Langley's ascent represents a slight evolution in how women have navigated moviedom's uppermost ranks. The very few women who have made it that far have typically built a base of power by cultivating friendships with important producers, writers and actors -- serving as the softer interface between film artisans and ever-more-corporate studio owners. Talent feels comfortable with Ms. Langley, but she always makes it clear that the studio is her priority.