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Emma Watts shines at 20th Century Fox, becomes sole production president

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Emma Watts has emerged as the sole president of production for 20th Century Fox after sharing the job with Alex Young for two years.

Young vacated his post this week after the partnership between them fizzled and will become a producer at the News Corp.-owned movie studio. Watts, a 10-year veteran of the studio, is a homegrown favorite of Fox chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos and will continue to report directly to them.

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Both Watts and Young’s contracts were set to expire early next year, according to a person familiar with the situation. Watts is now poised to see her contract extended, although that deal has not yet been done, which means the executive could next year choose to entertain offers from rival studios. Watts has risen through the ranks at Fox since joining in 1999 as a creative executive, the lowest rung on the studio roster above assistant. She worked her way up to executive vice president before becoming co-president two years ago. She previously worked for production companies owned by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and director Oliver Stone.

Her elevation continues a trend at Fox of promoting from within for top production posts. Vanessa Morrison, who heads the studio’s animation division, is also a veteran who started in 1995. Elizabeth Gabler, president of the Fox 2000 division, joined the studio in 1988 and took her current job in 1999. Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley, presidents of specialty film label Fox Searchlight, joined the studio in 2000 and 1986, respectively.

Young was the newest hire among the studio’s top production executives, having joined in 2002 after leaving Paramount Pictures.

-- Ben Fritz and Claudia Eller


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