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Happy 100th Birthday Universal Pictures

by Melissa Silverstein
May 3, 2012 11:36 AM
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I get a ton of press releases.  Most of them I don't even read.  This week I got a release about the 100th anniversary of Universal Pictures that was made up of 100 fun facts. Not too many of the facts included women so I asked the press folks to give me some important facts regarding Universal Pictures and women, especially women directors.

So here's what I got back.

Important fact 1- Lois Weber - she became the highest paid director at Universal in 1916 earning $5,000 a week and in just that year she directed 10 movies.   I find everything about her fascinating.

Important Fact 2 - Amy Heckerling's Fast Times at Ridgemont High was released by Universal in 1982.  This was at a time when virtually no women were directing.  This year is the film's 30th anniversary.  Check out my recent interview with Heckerling.  This film's success opened doors for other women.

And in a world where there are still very few women directing at the studio level, these women have directed films released by Universal:

Sharon Maguire – Bridget Jones’s Diary
Phyllida Lloyd – Mamma Mia!
Nancy Meyers – It’s Complicated
Sofia Coppola – Lost in Translation (released by Focus - a division of Universal) - Sofia was nominated for best director for this film

Here are the women centric facts in the 100 fun facts:

  • Neither Michelle Rodriguez nor Jordana Brewster had drivers’ licenses or even learners’ permits before production of the film in Fast and the Furious.
  • Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey was the first actress at Universal to receive a nomination for “Best Actress” at the Academy Awards.
  • In the infamous shower scene in Psycho, the sound of the knife-stabbing actress Janet Leigh was made by plunging a knife into a melon.
  • The hair-washing scene in Out of Africa was shot very close to a live, territorial hippopotamus.  Meryl Streep was extremely nervous during its filming.
  • The cake in the movie Sixteen Candles is made of cardboard.
  • Elizabeth Taylor made her feature film debut in Universal’s 1942 film, There’s One Born Every Minute.

Happy birthday Universal.  Hire more women!

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  • david glassman | May 4, 2012 2:28 PMReply

    "I get a ton of press releases. Most of them I don't even read."

    Sorry, this sounds incredibly spoiled. Who knows what you're missing out on.

    This actually makes a lot of sense though and accounts for the major holes in what you ARE covering. This site has taken a huge downturn in the last year, the focus is no longer as tight, editorially.

  • Melissa Silverstein | May 4, 2012 3:20 PM

    David- I might not read the whole release but I sure take a look at the subject and skim it and I have to say most of the releases I get are about beauty products and other products because I have the title women in my site.

    I would love for you to give me some feedback on the lack of tight focus. I would really appreciate hearing what you mean by that. It would be so helpful to me.

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