New biography tells story of Hollywood pioneer Sherry Lansing

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Sandy Kenyon has more. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Sherry Lansing was the first woman to lead a major Hollywood studio, and as a pioneer in the movie industry, she helped bring some iconic films to the big screen.

Now, a new biography is telling her groundbreaking story.

Lansing is every bit as glamorous as her famous friends, but if she's not quite as well known, that's because the former model abandoned her career as an actress to emerge as the first female studio head.

"That opened the doors for other women," author Stephen Galloway said.

Galloway, from "The Hollywood Reporter," penned the new book about Lansing called "Leading Lady."

"When I got into the business, there weren't any women really that were much ahead of me," she said. "There
weren't women running studios."

It's a job she had twice, and at Paramount, she helped shepherd "Titanic" to the big screen.

Before she ran studios, Lansing produced movies.

"I was determined to make movies where women's voices were heard," she said.

And if her name isn't familiar, you will surely know her hits, like "The Accused," which won an Oscar for Jodie Foster, and "Fatal Attraction," which earned a nomination for Glenn Close.

"Every studio passed on it twice, so I think there's almost an inverse rule," she said. "If the movie was hard to make, it'll be a success. And if it was easy to make, with a few exceptions, it's usually disappointing."

It was after she helped make a superstar out of Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft that Lansing started questioning her role as a Hollywood executive.

"The studios became places where you made big tent-pole movies, big special effects, big market-driven movies," she said. "And those were not the movies that touched my heart."

So she quit to do charity work, but she sees signs of progress where she once worked.

"You're not in shock when a woman, though there are still too few, is a director, or a woman has her own production company," she said. "So I think as woman are uniting, their voices are stronger than ever. They are being heard. And I see a very, very bright future."
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