Sometimes bad things happen for good reason. So it goes with Nina Jacobson, the producer of The Hunger Games.
Jacobson was in the hospital, with her partner in labor and her father in intensive care, six years ago when her boss at Disney (DIS) fired her over the phone. "Can you come in?" Dick Cook asked Jacobson, then president of the company's Buena Vista movie studio. "No, I really can't," Jacobson remembers telling Cook on that fateful day, July 17, 2006.
She had read the rumors in the trade press: Management changes at Disney are afoot, they said. "Am I getting fired?" Jacobson asked Cook, point-blank. Yes, he replied. She recalls telling herself: "Well, I'm just going to ignore that for the rest of the day and pretend it didn't happen."
A few hours later, her third child, William, was born.
William, now five, isn't quite old enough to appreciate that the The Hunger Games, opening today, is a very big deal. (He no doubt wishes his mom were still producing Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney.) But Jacobson's other two kids--daughter Josie, 11, and son Noah, 13—are among the youthful millions who are supposed to make The Hunger Games the next book-to-film phenom a la Harry Potter and Twilight.
Jacobson discovered The Hunger Games in 2009, a year after the first book in Suzanne Collins' trilogy was released. Brian Unkeless, a colleague at Color Force, Jacobson's production company that she set up post-Disney, read it and passed on high praise. "I couldn't put it down," Jacobson says. Negotiating with author Collins and her agent to make The Hunger Games into a movie, Jacobson convinced them that she would not just create something great for the screen but build and protect The Hunger Games "brand" as well.
So her brand-building background from Disney pays dividends today. No matter what the box office receipts turn out to be, Jacobson, 46, is happy in her new career. "As an executive," she says, about her eight years at Disney, "you can borrow somebody else's passion until you find your own. But as a producer, you can't borrow anyone's passion. You have to feel it. You have to care deeply enough to have the energy and inspiration to make the movie--and to make it worthwhile to be away from your family."
She has no regrets—except one about that day she was fired. "If I had it to do over again, I would definitely choose a different day. [Getting fired] certainly gives you perspective that a job is just a job. But on a day like that, the only story should be the birth of your child."
"If Twitter is the telephone, we're the conversation."
That comment was a highlight of Fortune Brainstorm Tech's "Future of Television" discussion on Thursday—even though the person who said it wasn't in the room.
No offense to the panelists on stage: Disney (DIS) Media Networks co-chair Anne Sweeney, CBS (CBS) exec Nancy Tellem, and NBC Universal's (CMCSA) Lauren Zalaznick. But the remark--which moderator Jason Hirschhorn said former MTV Networks (VIA) CEO Judy McGrath MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 22, 2011 11:35 AM ET
FORTUNE -- As the most powerful woman in children's television, Anne Sweeney meets a lot of girls who wish they were Selena Gomez or Miley Cyrus or tomorrow's superstar.
But Sweeney insists that she sees plenty of accomplished women in business who do that very same thing.
"I see a lot of women of every age trying to be something else," says Sweeney, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 19, 2011 2:34 PM ET
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is going on the Disney (DIS) board. Smart move for her. And smart move for Disney CEO Bob Iger and his fellow directors.
Sandberg, 40, is super-smart and supremely connected, having worked her way from Harvard to the World Bank to the U.S. Treasury--where she worked for then-Secretary Larry Summers--to Google (GOOG), where she was the top-ranked woman exec. She moved to Facebook early last year. And MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 23, 2009 6:32 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers and Jessica Shambora
We took a break from posting our daily Power Point--Postcards' quote of the day--last week, but we collected more than a few good ones at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Pasadena. Here are our 10 favorites, from the mouths of media moguls, tech titans, Tweeters and more.
"It's not really my thing. I don't go to the dentist. I don't do things that cause me to emote." MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jul 28, 2009 12:09 PM ET
The sun's coming out in New York City after a week of seemingly endless rain. This was also a whirlwind week of interesting encounters.
On Tuesday, I had lunch, unexpectedly, with Walt Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger. We were both at the New York Stock Exchange for Jeff Sonnenfeld's Yale CEO Summit, and Iger was getting the "Legend in Leadership Award." The Summit was off the record (as was the lunch), MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 12, 2009 6:10 PM ET
"At the end of a day the performance of a company like Kraft has everything to do with the quality of the people that we have in the key roles and so I spend most of my time worrying about whether that's the case, making sure...we have the right people in the right places, that they have the resources that they need to get the job done."
-- Kraft (KFT) CEO MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - May 5, 2009 6:57 PM ET
"Advertisers have made it clear that they want a safe environment unpolluted by videos of cats on skateboards."
-- Jeff Zucker, CEO of General Electric's (GE) NBC Universal, in the New York Times. On Thursday ABC, owned by Disney (DIS), announced that it would begin showing its programs on Hulu.com, a joint venture established by NBC and News Corporation's (NWS.A) Fox. The move further casts the video site as the home MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Apr 30, 2009 6:50 PM ET
"The hardest thing about the job is staying focused," President Obama told Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes Sunday night.
Are you feeling like the President these days? Unfocused? Maybe fatally so? We're living in an age of "global A.D.D.," as David Brooks, the New York Times op-ed writer said in his column last Friday. Brooks criticizes President Obama for attempting to tackle the "four most complicated problems facing the nation--health care, MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 24, 2009 1:55 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Procter & Gamble (PG) lost its president today: Susan Arnold, a 29-year veteran who drove the company's high-margin beauty business to $20 billion in sales and went on to oversee all of P&G's brands, stepped down one day after her 55th birthday.
"My dad retired at 62," Arnold said, phoning this afternoon on her way to a Walt Disney (DIS) board meeting. "Then he got really sick. You know MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 9, 2009 2:57 PM ET
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