Monday, April 15, 2024

Hollywood Memorial for Laura Ziskin: Over 1000 Attend


The memorial late this afternoon in Hollywood for Laura Ziskin was like a Who’s Who of players. Ziskin, really beloved, died on June 12th at age 61 after a seven year battle with breast cancer. She produced the “Spider Man” movies and twice ran the Oscars. Wolfgang Puck catered the party at Sony’s Studio 15,thanks to Laura’s great pal, Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal.  The event was lavish, reports Leah Sydney. “The place was decorated like a movie set, with video screens and slides of Laura from her various movies,” said one guest., Laura’s husband, the famed screenwriter Alvin Sargent, was composed and spent a lot of time comforting people, sources say. The entire event was branded for Stand up For Cancer, the organization Laura founded. Guests included all the top Hollywood agents, as well “Jerry Maguire” stars Renee Zellweger and Cuba Gooding, Jr., “Spider Man” star Tobey Maguire, Sally Field, director Sam Raimi, plus Warren Beatty, Sherry Lansing, William Friedkin, Mike Medavoy, Linda Obst, Sid Ganis, Peter Chernin, Arnold Kopelson, etc.

Australian country singer, Delta Goodrem, herself a cancer survivor, sang with a couple of musicians throughout the memorial. Hats were given out from Stand Up with Cancer” that read: “What Would Laura Do?”

Julia Barry, Laura’s daughter, spoke first: “The only thing my mom hid behind was her chic pair of sunglasses. My mom had unfaltering character, no pretense, no bullshit.” The theme of the memorial was Laura’s fearlessness. Just three weeks before she died, Laura had flown to Washington to help raise money for Stand Up for Cancer.   Sally Field spoke; Sally and Laura had their first production company together. “Laura was bold, inspired, tough, vulnerable and often frightened. She was simply my best friend.” Sam Raimi: “If Laura had produced this she would never have me follow Sally Field. We worked together for 10 years on Spider Man. We spent many hours at their home finding out what made [Spider Man] wonderful.” Emma Stone spoke about Stand Up for Cancer: “I wish I could say that Laura did not keep a list of the actors who did not participate in Stand up for Cancer. Just kidding. It will be published in Variety tomorrow,” she joked. Tobey Maguire choked up reading a letter from a cancer research.  Alvin Sargent, the award winning writer of “Ordinary People” and dozens of other screenplays including “Spider Man”: “She always got what she wanted. She said I want I want. 9For the 2002 Oscars] she wanted Woody Allen and got him.” A video was shown of Ziskin and Sargent’s wedding from last year–after 25 years of living together.

Laura’s ashes will spread in the Pacific Ocean. On a personal note, I can tell you that when Laura produced her two Oscar shows, she was incredibly wonderful to deal with. Everyone at the memorial apparently spoke of Laura’s integrity, honesty and work ethic. Hollywood loses someone irreplaceable with Laura. Rest in peace.

Laura Ziskin produced: “Pretty Woman,” “The Doctor” with William Hurt, “What About Bob?” with Bill Murray (and wrote it, too), “No Way Out,” with Kevin Costner, “To Die For,” with Nicole Kidman, “As Good As It Gets” with Jack Nicholson, and the three “Spider Man” movies, among others.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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