Hollywood awoke Thursday morning to find independent film producer Dawn Steel's photo on the front page of both entertainment trade newspapers, the Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety--each with different banner stories about her plans.
The Reporter said that Steel, co-producer of the current hit "Cool Runnings," and of "Sister Act 2," which opens today, will become chairman of worldwide operations for television mogul Ted Turner's Turner Pictures. Variety reported that Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has named Steel to head up a new task force aimed at encouraging and maintaining film production in this city.
Neither paper mentioned information in the other's story.
So the question on the minds of readers of both papers, was: What gives?
In a phone conversation Thursday, Steel confirmed what The Times and other papers have been speculating for weeks, that she is in negotiations with Turner for the production position, one which would put her back at the helm of a company for the first time since she left her post at Columbia Pictures in January, 1990, and began independent producing at Walt Disney Studios. She said it must have been a "slow news day" for the Reporter to place its speculative story at the top of Page 1. She said the deal is not yet finalized but she doesn't expect any resolution to her negotiations until after Jan. 1. In the meantime, she is preparing "12 Bar Blues" to begin production for Savoy Pictures and "The Power of No" for Disney.
As for her appointment by the mayor, Steel--who has served on Riordan's transition team since he took office last summer--said she's looking forward to serving on the task force because "the entertainment industry in Los Angeles has gone neglected for a very long time." She suggested that former Mayor Tom Bradley didn't give much attention to the industry because he perceived that the industry never supported him to any great extent.
"This mayor (Riordan) is very aggressive about entertainment. And it's smart business. The industry is one of the biggest job producers in this city. He wants to get all kinds of production back here that we're now losing to other locales."
Steel said she does not view her two new jobs as a conflict of interest in any way, since one is pro bono for the benefit of the city, and the other is an executive position.