I’ve been out at interviews and screenings all day, so I haven’t had a chance to write an appreciation of producer Laura Ziskin, who passed away over the weekend after a long battle with breast cancer. Best known as the producer of the “Spider-Man” franchise, Ziskin’s impressive career also included stints at Fox and Disney, where she shepherded a little film called “Pretty Woman” that she first purchased as a spec script and helped turn into one of the signature films of the 1980s.
I never interviewed Ziskin, so I would recommend Drew McWeeny’s piece about Ziskin at HitFix.com. McWeeny met Ziskin several times and talks about her passion for film:
“Ziskin was the sort of person who was a feminist icon because of what she did and how she did it, not because of any philosophy she overtly pushed. She fought for the material she believed in, and she navigated some truly brutal corporate waters over the years without surrendering her own personal standards.”
I only know Ziskin as a voice on “Spider-Man” commentary tracks. But as a lifelong Spidey nerd, her contribution to those wonderful movies, and her obvious commitment to her integrity of the character, were so important. As McWeeny says, bringing a massive undertaking like “Spider-Man” to the screen is a nearly impossible task and bold creative risks — like hiring a guy like Sam Raimi, then best known as a director of weird cult horror films — are rarely taken. In recent years, she helped found Stand Up To Cancer, a great organization devoted to cancer research. Her work trying to help others with cancer was the sort of heroism that makes Peter Parker look like a wuss.