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Like most kids growing up, I never really knew what my dad did for a living. I knew he worked in the movie business. I knew he was successful. I knew he was “the guy who greenlit STAR WARS” (whatever that meant). But otherwise, to me, he was just… Dad. The guy who wouldn’t let me get my ears pierced until I was twelve or wear make-up until I was fourteen or have boys in my room until I was married.
I remember when I was in the 5th grade, I was filling out paperwork for school that asked my dad’s occupation, “Just put that I’m an executive,” he said. So I did.
It wasn’t until I got older and began working in production that I came to understand the magnitude of what he’d accomplished. Every job I landed, someone inevitably figured out my connection to him, had a story to share and– though I kind of resented it at first– secretly, I couldn’t deny the stories were pretty awesome.
To this day, one of my favorites is the one Dick (Richard) Donner told me about directing THE OMEN. It was his first feature and the producer had wanted to fire Dick after Gregory Peck signed on to star. Loyal to the core, my dad– then Chairman of Fox– stood behind Dick and refused to make the movie without him.
Months later, Dick arrived at the executive screening room with the rough cut finished. Understandably nervous, he kept an eagle-eye on my dad, who– true to form– sat through the entire movie without saying a word. When the lights came up, he turned to Dick and said, “What if the kid lives?” I couldn’t believe it. Of course the kid has to live. That is the most harrowing part of the entire movie and my dad was the guy who thought of it?
Another great one I heard was that Ripley, Sigourney Weaver’s iconic character in ALIEN was originally written for a man. And it was my dad’s idea to change it to a woman. Parts like that didn’t exist for women before Alien. By casting Sigourney in the role, my dad not only improved the story, he launched the first female action-hero franchise. My dad. Who knew?
After years of hearing story after story, one day it dawned on me… the people who had worked with him considered themselves lucky. Over the course of his 165-movie-and-counting career, my dad changed the lives of countless filmmakers– people I admired, whose films I’d grown up on. I realized… if I hadn’t heard those stories, nobody had. And they are far too cool to keep to myself.
In LADDIE, I’ll sit down with some of the most celebrated names in filmmaking of the last several decades and give you an inside look at the man whose name you’ve probably never heard, but won’t soon forget.