Caught_on_Film_A_Growing_Unease_in_Hollywood - Caught on...

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Caught on Film: A Growing Unease in  Hollywood  By LAURA M. HOLSON Published: August 19, 2006 LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 — For many here, Stacey Snider was the  Hollywood executive who had it all. As chairwoman of Universal  Pictures, she hobnobbed with celebrities at the Academy Awards. She  was feted at charity events as well as in the fashion pages of Vogue.  But after  General Electric  acquired Universal Pictures in 2004, the  bright lights lost their brilliance. Films like the Peter Jackson “King Kong” were considered disappointments, despite bringing in $547 million at the worldwide box office. And like many of her industry peers facing similar oversight, she regarded the scrutiny of the studio’s quarterly returns as, at times, oppressive. So much so that Ms. Snider quit her job in February to become chief executive of DreamWorks , now a division of Paramount Pictures, to work with the director Steven Spielberg on far fewer projects. “It’s not like I view this as a private, artistic enterprise,” Ms. Snider,  45, said in a recent telephone interview. Still, she said: “I certainly felt  the pressure. I felt the uncertainty. It galvanized the angst. We went  from making movies to making product and content. I didn’t want to  make franchises. I wanted to make movies.” Hers is a common refrain in Hollywood these days. Despite a domestic  box-office surge after years of declining attendance, 2006 is shaping  up to be a time of Hollywood discontent. Studio executives have  waged war on actor salaries, as high-profile projects with stars like  Jim Carrey  have been put off. Movie production deals, like the one  Tom Cruise  has at Paramount, are being renegotiated. Studios are also  making fewer big-budget movies. 
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But while Hollywood has undergone periodic shifts like this before,  many people here agree that there is something different this time, a  permanence to Hollywood’s new austerity plan. Executives are facing  too many unknowns, among them, changing moviegoer habits, rising  costs and the threat of piracy. “In this Wall Street and corporate world, the discussion has become:  What is the proven, unique selling property of this product?” said  Warren Beatty , the actor, who is upbeat about the industry’s  prospects.  But he, too, agreed the industry was in transition. “The problem is you  can’t sell entertainment the way you sell cars or air-conditioners,’’ he  said. “Entertainment is dependent, to some extent, on surprise.” The concern so far seems largely psychological, although many here 
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