When The New York Times reported last December about the intrigue that usually surrounds The Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 100 most influential women in the film and TV industries, it was easy enough to imagine the story spawning a movie of its own. The genre? Farce, probably. Imagine: Nervous publicists showing Powerpoint presentations about their clients to THR editors, said editors arguing among themselves about whether a Disney executive should be ranked higher than a DreamWorks one, and scores of accomplished women converging on one suspenseful unveiling breakfast that results in tears and cheers and plotting—all while Hollywood’s board rooms, directors’ chairs, and top-earners lists remain occupied mostly by men.
A note posted online Wednesday from THR’s editor-in-chief Janice Min opens by acknowledging the craziness of all of the above, pointing out that Entourage has already spoofed it. She then lays out some facts that are more likely to suggest a possible Oscar-contending drama. Despite years of public calls for inclusivity in Hollywood, the number of women directors of big-budget movies has declined, the pay gap between actresses and actors stays substantial, and women remain shockingly rare at the highest levels of the companies that own major movie studios. Now, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has opened an investigation into gender discrimination in the industry. And THR has decided to end its annual ranking of women, saying that what had started as an attempt to empower one gender has only ended up pitting its members against each other. Min explains,
There is a phrase that men use, including my male financial-industry boss, when talking about combining assets: “Think how powerful we are if we hunt as a pack.” Women don’t use phraseology like that, but maybe it’s time. Today, as part of that thinking, The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard are abolishing the rankings for both lists and instead each anointing a single annual class of a Power 100 (Hollywood Reporter) and a Power 50 (Billboard). There still will be designations for executive woman of the year at both titles and other marks of distinction to be revealed. This is probably also a good time to tell you we’re creating an inaugural ranked list of entertainment’s most powerful people — men and women — as part of our upcoming fifth anniversary year celebrating The Hollywood Reporter’s relaunch. I say, game on in that regard. But right here, right now, the moment feels wrong to host a female cage match.
Min’s announcement makes a good case for scrapping all-female power rankings—and has the handy secondary effect of asserting the relevance of THR’s brand—though she doesn’t overpromise about the secondary social effects this’ll have: “Will this change make an impact? I don’t know.”