Laura Ziskin life and biography

Laura Ziskin picture, image, poster

Laura Ziskin biography

Date of birth : 1950-03-03
Date of death : 2011-06-12
Birthplace : San Fernando Valley, California, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-06-14
Credited as : Film producer, Pretty Woman, A Star is Born

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Laura Ellen Ziskin was an American film producer. In 1990, she was the sole executive producer of the hit comedy Pretty Woman. Ziskin became the first woman to produce the Academy Awards telecast alone, producing the 74th Academy Awards in 2002 and the 79th Academy Awards in 2007.

Laura Ziskin got her start in show business writing for game shows, then became a development executive. For the small screen, she also produced the TV-movie "One Cooks, the Other Doesn't" (CBS, 1983). While working in development, she assisted Jon Peters on the musical remake of "A Star is Born" (1976). Ziskin made her debut as an associate producer on the high-gloss mystery "The Eyes of Laura Mars" (1978), and subsequently formed Fogwood Films with Sally Field, producing "Murphy's Romance" (1985). As an independent, Ziskin produced the thriller "No Way Out" (1987), which helped the careers of Kevin Costner and Sean Young. 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." (both 1988).

But her biggest success to date came with the hit comedy "Pretty Woman" (1990), which Ziskin executive produced for Touchstone. The following year was a let-down for Ziskin and Touchstone alike, with "What About Bob?" and "The Doctor" failing to find audiences. A switch to Columbia resulted in Stephen Frears' "Hero" (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 marvelous Nicole Kidman tour-de-force "To Die For" (1995), under the banner of Laura Ziskin Productions.

By the time that last film was in release, however, 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 hot directors (i.e., David Fincher, John N Smith, Carl Franklin) and writers (e.g., Jon Robin Baitz, David Ives, Lisa Loomer), though most of their film projects never got beyond the development process. Among those released were Edward Zwick's Gulf War drama "Courage Under Fire" and the romantic comedy "One Fine Day" (both 1996) and Pat O'Connor's "Inventing the Abbotts" and the big-budget disaster film "Volcano" (both 1997). In 1996, Fox 2000 also pooled resources with Fox Searchlight to distribute Anthony Minghella's acclaimed, award-winning "The English Patient".

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. 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".

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

On May 28, 2008, Ziskin, along with Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the Noreen Fraser Foundation and Ellen Ziffren, announced the creation of 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.

Ziskin died of breast cancer at her home in Santa Monica, California on June 12, 2011, aged 61.

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