Oscar-winning director Alexander Payne, actress Nia Vardalos and Fox CEO Jim Gianopulos will be honored at the 22nd Annual Leadership 100 Conference that brings together the best and brightest from the Greek Church and Community. The three-day event will take place February 7-10, 2013, at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point California.
Jim Gianopulos, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Twentieth Century Fox Film, overseeing News Corporation’s motion picture companies, including Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox 2000, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox Animation Studios, Blue Sky Studios, Fox International Productions, and their related entities, will highlight a star-studded program at the 22nd Annual Leadership 100 Conference that brings together the best and brightest from the Greek Church and Community, announced Charles H. Cotros, Leadership 100 Chairman. The Conference, to take place February 7-10, 2013, at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point California, will feature an address with special feature video by Gianopulos on Thursday afternoon, February 7, who will be introduced by his pastor, Fr. John Bakas, Dean of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, who will also speak to conferees, and “will also include Alexander Payne, the award-winning director, screenwriter and producer, and Nia Vardalos, the actress, screenwriter, director and producer,” added Cotros.
One of the longest-tenured studio chairmen in the film industry, Gianopulos oversees all feature film production and marketing, as well as global distribution through all windows and platforms spanning the theatrical, broadcast, cable, home entertainment, digital and mobile markets. During his time as Chairman of Fox, the studio has had its most profitable years ever. He has been involved in the evolution of new entertainment media and technologies for more than 25 years, and is considered a leading strategist in the industry. During his tenure at the studio, he has overseen the release of a broad range of successful films, including Life of Pi, the X-Men series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Night At The Museum, Taken (and its sequel), The Simpsons Movie, Borat, The Day After Tomorrow, Walk the Line, the Star Wars Trilogy, Live Free or Die Hard, Minority Report, and Moulin Rouge. He also has the unique distinction of having championed two of the biggest gambles, and the two highest grossing films of all time: Avatar and Titanic.
Under his leadership, the studio’s animation division, Blue Sky Studios, produced successful films such as the Ice Age series, and Fox Searchlight Pictures, the studio’s specialized division, produced commercial and critical successes such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Descendants, Black Swan, and the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, among many others. Prior to his current post, Gianopulos was Chairman & CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment and before that, he was President of Twentieth Century Fox International, a position he held since 1994. Among the many notable successes during Gianopulos’ tenure at Fox International are the Oscar winners Titanic and Braveheart, in addition to at one point having four of the five top grossing pictures of all-time internationally: Titanic, Star Wars, Independence Day and Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.
The son of Greek immigrants and a native New Yorker, Gianopulos attended the Master’s program at the New York University School of Law, the Fordham School of Law, earning a Juris Doctor in 1976 and Boston University, earning a BA in 1973. He resides in Los Angeles with his wife Ann and their three daughters.
Alexander Payne, who will speak on Friday afternoon, February 8, will be introduced by his former pastor in Omaha, Nebraska, Very Rev. Fr. Eugene N. Pappas, now of Three Hierarchs Church in Brooklyn, New York, and Nia Vardalos, the Canadian-American actress best known for the 2002 Academy Award –nominated film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, will speak on Friday evening, February 8. Other speakers include Michael S. Johnson of Denver, Colorado, a member of Leadership 100 and an award-winning petroleum geologist, who will speak at the opening of the Conference on Thursday morning, February 7, and Mary J. Mitchell of Omaha, Nebraska, also a member of Leadership 100 and the author of Drawn to Fashion, who will speak at a special program on Saturday, February 9. Entertainment will feature the sisters, Lexy and Stephany Prodromos, at the Hellenic Festival on Friday evening, February 8. Their popular and classical music has been seen on Fox, NBC and WGN television and has received more than 250,000 views on YouTube. Dean Vali & Keffe will also perform at the Hellenic Festival, as well as at the Grand Gala on Saturday evening, February 9.
Payne was born Constantine Alexander Payne, February 10, 1961 in Omaha, Nebraska, the youngest of three sons of Peggy (née Constantine) and George Payne, restaurant owners, and grew up in the same neighborhood as billionaire Warren Buffett. His grandfather had Anglicized the last name from Papadopoulos. He graduated from Stanford and the UCLA Film School. Payne made his feature film debut with Citizen Ruth (1996) and followed up with Election (1999), which won Best Screenplay from the Writers’ Guild of America and the New York Film Critics Circle, as well as an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. About Schmidt (2002) premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and opened the New York Film Festival. Both Sideways (2004) and his latest film, The Descendants (2011), won Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and were nominated for four others, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Vardalos was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on September 24, 1962. She is the daughter of Greek Canadian parents Doreen and Constantine “Gus” Vardalos. She attended Shaftesbury High School and Ryerson Univesity. After roles in television, most notably on The Drew Carey Show and Two Guys and a Girl, she gained overnight success with My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which was based on a one-woman show she had previously written and starred in. The film earned her an Academy Award Nomination for Best Writing, a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actess in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and a Screen Actors Guild Award Nomination. Vardalos made her directing debut in 2009 with the independent feature I Hate Valentine’s Day. This was followed by My Life in Ruins, the first American production given permission to film at the Acropolis. In 2011, Vardalos and Tom Hanks wrote the romantic comedy film Larry Crowne. She is set to star in the upcoming films Talk of the Town and A Wilderness of Monkeys.
Michael S. Johnson & Mary J. Mitchell
Michael Johnson has been recognized for his contribution to the discovery of Parshall Field in North Dakota, one of the world’s major oil discoveries. Born in Maryville, Missouri of Greek immigrant parents, his interest in the oil business began when his family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1931, then called the oil capital of the U.S. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.Sc. degree and an M.S. degree, both in geology. Mary Mitchell is acknowledged for her 30-year career as a fashion illustrator for top designers and major department stores. Born Mary Kafasis to Greek immigrant parents in South Buffalo, New York, she graduated from the Albright Art School in conjunction with the University of Buffalo.
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