Producer Marcia Nasatir has two pillows on the couch in her apartment. One reads, “Done”, the other “Next”. That is the motto for this Hollywood trailblazer, whose life is the subject of Anne Goursaud’s documentary, A Classy Broad. It is a motto Nasatir continues to follow-never mind that she has just turned ninety-one.
Growing up as a Jewish girl in Texas, Nasatir learned early to ignore the status quo. Nasatir was a voracious reader from an early age. She married young, had two sons, and moved to New York. The marriage failed, leaving her with a need to support her children.
Thanks to her reading habit, Nasatir landed jobs at publishing houses. She handled novelizations, the process of turning screenplays into novels. This led to a job in Hollywood as a literary agent. She represented writers such as William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid), Robert Towne (Chinatown), and Lorenzo Semple, Jr. (Papillon).
After five years, United Artists’ Mike Medavoy offered Nasatir a job. She made her acceptance contingent on having the title of vice president. Medavoy got the approval, making Nasatir the first female studio vice president. She worked on films like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, and Carrie. However, she was unable to sell United Artists on a project called Star Wars.
Yet Medavoy and the other UA executives broke away to form Orion without asking Nasatir to join them. She regrouped and worked on other films (notably, The Big Chill). Somehow, she always found a way to keep working. Later in her career, Nasatir teamed with writer Lorenzo Semple, Jr. for Reel Geezers, a web film review show. Currently, she is working out logistics for a new film production of Huck Finn.
If I have a quibble with Goursaud’s approach, it is her use of clips from the numerous films associated with Nasatir. This takes valuable screen time that could be devoted to more details of Nasatir’s life- particularly, the environment in Hollywood during her tenure at United Artists.
As of this writing, there are relatively few films that chronicle experiences of women in Hollywood behind the camera. I hope more of these films are made-and that there are even more stories to be told.
Theme: Women Behind The Camera
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