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Sisters making films: The Todds

August 21, 2011|By Jodie Burke, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Jennifer, left, and Suzanne Todd produced the "Austin Powers" movies, plus "Memento" and "Alice in Wonderland."
Jennifer, left, and Suzanne Todd produced the "Austin Powers"… (Eric Charbonneau / Getty…)

The Todds

"When we were trying to sell 'Austin Powers,' we got a lot of pushback," Suzanne Todd recalls. "A studio head at the time [took] the point to call himself to say to me, 'Passing on this project, and I also want to tell you as your friend that I think this material is disgusting and you're a nice girl and you shouldn't sully you career by taking on this kind of material.' And I remember thinking, not only was that a pretty aggressive pass, but I was sort of insulted by the idea that he needed to look out for me."

The Todd sisters have produced some big hits, including all three of the "Austin Powers" movies, "Memento" and "Alice in Wonderland." The Todds, who grew up in Northridge and Sherman Oaks, have an older sister, Catherine, a physicist.

"Our parents got divorced when I was 8 or 9," Jennifer Todd says. After that, Suzanne and Jennifer lived primarily with their mother. They say they spent a lot of time together on the couch, healing. They watched the same movies together, laughed at the same things. The Todds developed similar tastes, ethics and eventually a shorthand with each other. This gives them an advantage in business, they say. They can communicate everything in a look, a laugh, the lift of an eyebrow.

The Todds insist they weren't competitive growing up. "Jen would be hanging around with all of her little friends and they wanted to get into whatever trouble, and they called me Warden Sue," she admits, "because I was the one who said, 'You're gonna do your homework and clean up your room and do X, Y and Z.'"

Last year, Jennifer Todd left working with her sister to become president of motion pictures for producer Mark Gordon's ("Source Code" "Grey's Anatomy") company. Team Todd was just coming off its biggest hit ever — "Alice in Wonderland" made a billion dollars — when their studio deal ran out.

Jennifer points out that most of their contemporaries also lost their producing deals. Suzanne still runs the family business, and the sisters still have projects together. A benefit of being on Team Todd? "Those times when you're crushed, you have that person there to console you, and it's great that it's your sister," Jennifer says.

Continue reading about the Goodman sisters.

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