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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Guess who's missing from Hollywood Reporter's most powerful women in showbiz list

December 7, 2010 | 11:04 am

Kathryn_bigelowIt's hard to imagine a more depressing symbol of the lack of influence of women directors in Hollywood than the Hollywood Reporter's new Women in Entertainment Power 100 List. The list, which gives the No. 1 spot to ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney, just ahead of Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal, is loaded with women executives, agents, managers, producers and publicists. But the only film or TV director to make the cut -- and how's this for humiliating, at No. 53, five slots below Judge Judy -- is Kathryn Bigelow, who won an Oscar for  "The Hurt Locker."

Since "The Hurt Locker" barely made any money, Bigelow is clearly on the list for her Oscar glory, not for any influence she has in the marketplace. And that's the cruelest cut of all, since if we were putting together a similar Hot 100 Power List for men in Hollywood, we could easily put half a dozen male filmmakers on the list, starting with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, John Lasseter, Judd Apatow and Michael Bay. 

It's not like the Hollywood Reporter made a horrible blunder and forgot some deserving woman. There are no powerful female filmmakers in showbiz, at least if you define power by the ability to get hired to helm a lucrative studio franchise or have the kind of clout that insures that studios will finance a project that isn't a sequel or a remake (as Nolan had with "Inception"). There is a very short list of female filmmakers who reliably make commercial films, but the list pretty much begins and ends with Bigelow, Nancy Meyers, Anne Fletcher and Betty Thomas -- and even Thomas had to spend several years in movie jail when she had a flop with "I Spy," something that would never happen to a comparable male filmmaker. Even Nora Ephron doesn't make the cut, since it's been a decade since anyone but Amy Pascal would give her a job, hardly a sign of healthy career viability.

Of course there are plenty of female directors making low-budget indy films, including the likes of Sofia Coppola and Lisa Cholodenko, whose latest film, "The Kids are All Right" was such a critical fave that the film might even land a best picture nomination. But nearly all of the beloved indy female directors are unemployable at major studios, which is why you can go through a whole year at a major studio (2009 at Warners, for example) and find an entire slate of films without any female directors at the helm.     

I guess that means that when it comes to power in Hollywood for women filmmakers, to paraphrase the old Virginia Slims ad slogan, you ain't come a long way baby, not at all.

--Patrick Goldstein

Photo: Kathryn Bigelow speaking to reporters at the 32nd International Film Festival in Havana, Cuba.

Credit: Reuters