December 19, 1953
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A regular presence on annual "most powerful executives in Hollywood" lists during her career, Laurie MacDonald was a producer and studio co-head who helped make some of the top movies of her era. Along with husband and producing partner Walter Parkes, she helped run DreamWorks, the high-powered studio responsible for a host of big-budget, popular films. Her first credit as a producer was in television, namely on the short-lived medical drama "Birdland" (1994). She didn't stay in that medium long, choosing instead to concentrate on film, the preferred arena of Parkes. She debuted as a film producer with the '95 romantic drama "How to Make an American Quilt," and her career quickly gained steam. Consistently working with her husband, she helped create such blockbusters as the '97 science-fiction romp "Men in Black" and the Ridley Scott-directed Roman arena fighter epic "Gladiator" ('00). As one of the essential movers at DreamWorks, MacDonald was instrumental in birthing numerous films directed by studio partner Steven Spielberg. These include '02's "Catch Me if You Can," starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a real-life counterfeiter/forger active in the '60s, and the man-stuck-in-an-airport dramedy "The Terminal" ('04). Other directors collaborating with her on projects included Tim Burton ('07's period Gothic, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street") and Michael Bay (the futuristic thriller "The Island," in '05).