The 50 smartest people in Hollywood: Where are the women?


The folks at Entertainment

like their lists. And their latest list is a big one;

so big that it warrants the cover of the print version. Declaring that

“It’s not about power anymore,” EW has presented us with

The 50 Smartest

People in Hollywood

And guess what? Men are a lot smarter than women. Or, at least, there

are a lot more smart men than women in Hollywood. Now, I’m not confident

that I counted correctly because, you know, math is hard, but here are the numbers:

There’s exactly one woman (10 percent) in the top 10, two (8 percent) in the top 25 and 13 (26 percent)

in the entire 50.


, at

No. 6, is the smartest woman in Hollywood — because she’s managed

to have a vibrant career after age 50.

The other 12 women are: 15.

Amy Pascal
, 26. Stacey Snider, 30. Jodie Foster, 31. Kathleen Kennedy, 32.

Thelma Schoonmaker, 33. Angelina Jolie, 38. Diablo Cody, 39. Mary

, 43. Beth Swofford, 45. Cate Blanchett, 47. Amy Powell and 49. Sarah Polley. (You can find the full list with

explanations beginning here.)

Now, I’m not complaining about

the women they selected (except for maybe Angelina Jolie and possibly

Diablo Cody). We certainly know that Jodie Foster is brainy.

And Cate Blanchett has always

struck me as intelligent.

But only 13 women? And overwhelmingly

weighted in the bottom half? I’m sure the standard position is that

there are so many more men than women in Hollywood, so this is just

a by-product of those numbers. But I don’t buy it. Because this list

is ostensibly about “smart,” not about powerful. And the fact that

Hollywood is still so male-dominated means that the women who do succeed

are probably smarter and more tenacious than the majority of men.

All of which begs the question:

What constitutes “smart” according to the folks at EW? In

their words,

“’Smart’ could mean many

things. It encompasses books smarts and street smarts, financial genius

and emotional intelligence. We weren’t interested in IQ. What mattered

was the originality of each person’s thinking and the reach of their

ideas beyond the borders of their own careers.”

Or, as a reader on the site

commented, “So, by ‘smart,’

they don’t actually mean anything at all to do with being smart.”

In other words, “smart”

— rather than meaning intelligent — is just another way of saying successful

and influential. How innovative. And then there’s the logic. Judd

comes in at number 1 because “he changed the whole funny

business” with his everyman-fantasy

, Knocked

and Superbad. But Amy Pascal, who greenlit Superbad ,

came in at 15, and Donna Langley, who greenlit Knocked Up, didn’t

make the list. And Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and

Will Smith
are smarter than all the women in Hollywood. Uh-huh.

But I will not merely rage

against the injustice. I’ll throw out a few of the many women who could

easily have been included among the top 50.

1. Christine Vachon (Producer)

By anyone’s standards, Christine

Vachon is a mover and shaker in Hollywood. She (along with her production company Killer Films) has been the driving force behind

an enormous number of the interesting, and often financially successful,

independent movies produced during the past 10 years or so. And she

meets the criteria of being currently influential; at last count, Christine Vachon had a zillion projects

announced, in pre-production, in production or in theaters right now.

2. Kasi Lemmons

(Actor, Director)

Kasi Lemmons directed what

may be the best movie of 2007, Talk to Me

— and if she does not get an Oscar nod, I’m going to become a

full-fledged conspiracy theorist. While I’m neither derogating movies

made for a female audience, nor asserting that Lemmons is the first

to break the mold, she has unquestionably demonstrated that women can

direct primarily male casts and make brilliant movies for wide audiences.

3. Reese Witherspoon (Actor)

Will Smith was declared the

fifth-smartest person in Hollywood for making good choices, doggedly

pursuing his dreams and becoming an old-fashioned movie star. Reese

Witherspoon has made excellent movie choices (Election, Walk

the Line
), won the Best Actress Oscar in 2005 and generally makes

movies with weak scripts (Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama)

much better than they should be. She is the highest paid actress in Hollywood, and she has her own

production company, Type A Films.

4. Barbara Kopple


Michael Moore, who came

in at 27, makes award-winning, commercially successful documentaries

(Bowling for Columbine, Sicko) in which he is the star.

Barbara Kopple makes award-winning, commercially successful (although

not to the same degree as Michael Moore’s) documentaries (Harlan

County USA
, Shut Up and Sing) in which her subjects are the

stars. The latter seems smarter to me.

5. Salma Hayek

(actor, producer)

Salma Hayek has become a major

player in the world of independent film production. Her production company, Ventanazul, is currently negotiating five English-language

movies, and Hayek has greenlight power. She describes Ventanazul’s

niche as follows:

"I think we are the only

company right now whose sole mission is to specialize in two things:

1) appealing to the Latin market and 2) taking a Latin story or a Latin

talent and appealing to the global market."

And these five are only a fraction

of the women who could easily be considered among the 50 smartest in

Hollywood. Who would you include? (Note that this is exclusively a Hollywood

and not a television list.) And what do you think of EW‘s list?

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