2017 has been quite a year for Greeks in Hollywood: Alexander Payne premiered his newest film, “Downsizing”; Jim Gianopulos took over as CEO of Paramount Studios; Amy Sedaris got her own show on truTV. These are just a few 2017 headlines, but there are a number of other Greeks and Greek-Americans that have also been at the forefront of big industry changes this past year.
Before we move on to 2018, let’s review five Greeks in Hollywood, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, who were some of Hollywood’s top players in 2017.
It would be impossible to talk about Greeks making big changes in Hollywood in 2017 without talking about Netflix’s public face and Chief Content Officer: Ted Sarandos.
Sarandos made headlines earlier this year when he announced that Netflix will spend almost $8 billion dollars in 2018 on original content, creating around 650 original productions worldwide, from South Korea to Germany to Brazil.
In addition, Sarandos has brought the streaming service into prestigious film circles, with Netflix original films such as “Okja” premiering at Sundance and Cannes, where the decision to broadcast these movies at some of the world’s best-known festivals caused quite a controversy within the film community.
Sarandos firmly believes that services such as Netflix represent the future of the industry, and is steadfast in his drive to continue moving his company forward.
If you haven’t heard of screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulos, make sure to keep an eye out for his upcoming projects. After writing several scripts for some big-screen features, including “Hercules” and “The Huntsman: Winter’s War”, Evan penned the story to this year’s live-action adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast”.
The film, which starred Emma Watson, Luke Evans, and Kevin Kline, went on to make $1.264 billion. These huge profits put “Beauty and the Beast” in the top 10 box office hits of all time, making Evan one of the most sought-after screenwriters currently working in Hollywood.
As an actress, Zoe Kazan has been an indie darling for quite some time, with many critically-acclaimed roles under her belt. This year, she made a splash on movie screens everywhere as the female lead in “The Big Sick”, Kumail Nanjiani’s breakthrough box office and critical hit.
Kazan and her fellow cast members got nominated for a Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG) award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
After the movie, Zoe’s acting career seems to be moving upward rapidly, as she was recently cast in the Coen Brothers’ latest endeavor, a Western TV series, and had her play “After the Blast” staged on New York’s prestigious Lincoln Center Theater.
After a very successful run as the creator and producer of critically-acclaimed crime drama “The Wire”, Pelecanos returned to television with a new series on HBO called “The Deuce”, which looks at the gritty underworld and porn industry of New York in the 70s.
Starring James Franco, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Margarita Levieva and Method Man, “The Deuce” has already been renewed for a second season, so it seems that Pelecanos’ second crime-focused TV series is well on its way to becoming another success.
After a long and successful tenure at 20th Century Fox, Jim Gianopulos was replaced by Stacey Snider, to the surprise of many. However, instead of taking a leave of absence from the industry, Gianopulos was instead appointed CEO of industry giant Paramount Studios, where his bosses at Viacom are hoping the studio chief’s golden touch can save the struggling studios (much like Gianopulos helped 20th Century Fox on the road to success).
Gianopulos has already inked a 5-year deal with Hasbro for Paramount, so it appears he is moving quickly to put Paramount back on top.
In addition to attaining this powerful position, Gianopulos has also joined the Sexual Misconduct Commission headed by Anita Hill in order to stamp out harassment in the entertainment industry and address the power imbalances that have gone unchecked for so long.