From the mail room at ABC to running Disney's movie operations during the 1980s and '90s, David Hoberman, 45, has had a variety of jobs. Now at his own Mandeville Films, he follows "George of the Jungle" with the F. Gary Gray-directed thriller "The Negotiator," starring Samuel Jackson and Kevin Spacey. Next: "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and Garry Marshall's "The Other Sister."

WORKING MAN: "When you're in the studio system, the more successful you get, the more you get away from the movie-making process. Now being back in the trenches with my name on it is really rewarding."

THINK MEDIUM: "Even after flops, people still went out and kept making $100-million movies. It's easy to say, 'Jim Cameron, Tony Scott; they're worth it.' But 'The Negotiator' was made for half that, and I think it's strong enough to compete with anything this summer."

CHOICES: "I hope our next movie will be 'Protege,' which takes place in the music world. It's the story of a very successful female diva who takes a young girl under her wing. You can go with a Madonna or a Michelle Pfeiffer--a singer or a strict actress. It's a very tricky thing."

TALENT SCOUTING: "For a while you tap the student filmmakers, then video makers, then commercials and then start over again. I'm looking at Michael Bay and Gary Gray; they came out of videos. Seems to be a video explosion now."

NEW DIRECTIONS: "Gary Gray is a huge undiscovered talent, and he's going to be a big threat out there, a guy who is looking to do smart, different movies. The leap he made from 'Set It Off' to 'The Negotiator' is extraordinary."

GOOD NEWS: "Previews for 'The Other Sister' have been out of control--better than 'Pretty Woman.' Do I believe in previews? Yeah, when they're good."

MOUSEKETEERS: "They've done great having Disney family movies competing with the biggest Christmas and summer movies--'George of the Jungle,' 'Flubber,' '101 Dalmatians.' That was a tremendous hurdle, getting those kind of actors to do Disney movies and have that box-office success."

NEW ERA: "Joe [Roth] changed the whole [Disney] dynamic--took a studio that did not use big-name directors and stars and practically turned it around overnight with 'Ransom' and Mel Gibson, and everyone knew he was serious about big action pictures. Turned the whole studio around."

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