Paula Wagner

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Paula Wagner
Paula Wagner Deauville 2012.jpg
Wagner in 2012
Paula Sue Kauffman

Youngstown, Ohio, U.S.
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
OccupationFilm producer
Spouse(s)Robin Wagner (divorced)
(m. 1984)

Paula Kauffman Wagner (born Paula Sue Kauffman) is an American film producer and film executive who was frequently described as "the most powerful woman in Hollywood".[1] Her most recent credits include the film Marshall starring Chadwick Boseman, Kate Hudson, Sterling K. Brown, and Josh Gad as well as the Broadway, West End, and US Tour productions of Pretty Woman: The Musical.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Wagner was born Paula Sue Kauffman in Youngstown, Ohio. Her mother, Sue Anna (née Shofstall), was a news magazine editor from Oklahoma, and her father, Edmund Jamison "Ned" Kauffman, Jr., was a business owner.[4][5] While in Youngstown, Wagner frequently performed at the local playhouse. She received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she currently sits on the board of trustees.[6]


Early career[edit]

In her early career in New York, Wagner played several ensemble parts in the 1971 stage production of Lenny.[7] Some of her additional credits include the role of Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Yale Repertory Theatre[8] as well as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Cleveland Play House. Her first marriage, to set designer Robin Wagner, brought her into the industry's A-list circles; she was present when director Michael Bennett shared ideas with Robin for A Chorus Line".[9]

Agent and Film Producer[edit]

After her work on the stage, Wagner became a talent agent at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in Los Angeles, where she signed and represented Tom Cruise.[10] In 1993, she launched Cruise/Wagner Productions (C/W) with her former CAA client Tom Cruise. For the next 13 years, Cruise and she produced a wide range of films that earned numerous awards, widespread critical praise, and global box office success. The first film released under the C/W banner was the international hit Mission: Impossible, the success of which brought the company the 1997 Producers Guild of America's Nova Award for Most Promising Producers in Theatrical Motion Pictures.

C/W went on to produce such films as The Others, The Last Samurai, Vanilla Sky, Without Limits, Shattered Glass, Narc, Elizabethtown, and Ask the Dust, as well as Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds (which Wagner executive produced).[3] C/W was responsible for the original Mission: Impossible film trilogy (Mission: Impossible 2 and Mission: Impossible III). In all, films produced by C/W earned more than $2.9 billion in worldwide box office receipts.[11]

Wagner continues to work as a film producer and studio executive, developing films, theatre, and television through her company Chestnut Ridge Productions.[9]

Through Chestnut Ridge Productions, her most recent film was Marshall, starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, and Sterling K. Brown; a story of a true law case early in the career of Thurgood Marshall. The movie was critically acclaimed and was nominated for one Academy Award.[12]

Theatre Producer[edit]

Her Broadway producing credits include Pretty Woman: The Musical which also opened a production in Hamburg, Germany in September 2019, a production in on the West End in February 2020; there is a US National Tour in the works. Other Broadway theatrical productions include The Heiress starring Jessica Chastain, David Strathairn, and Dan Stevens and directed by Moisés Kaufman; it opened in the fall of 2012. She also produced the Broadway premiere of Craig Wright’s acclaimed play Grace, directed by Dexter Bullard and starring Paul Rudd, Michael Shannon, Kate Arrington, and Ed Asner in October 2012 and Terrence McNally’s Tony-nominated play Mothers and Sons.[13][14][15]

Other Producing and Notable Work[edit]

In addition to her work in film and theatre, Wagner also has produced for television and numerous awards ceremonies. She was an executive producer on the critically acclaimed and award winning Lifetime original movie Five, five short films directed by five female directors. She produced the Governors Awards ceremony for the Motion Picture Academy in 2013 and produced both the 2011 and 2012 Producers Guild of America Award show.[16][17][18]

Wagner served on the board of the National Film Preservation Foundation through the Library of Congress and Carnegie Mellon University, where she received her degree and is an adjunct faculty member in the Master in Entertainment Industry Management program through the Heinz College.[19]

Wagner is a member of the American Cinematheque's Board of Directors[20] and the Executive Committee of the UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.[21] She is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the Producers Guild of America (PGA), The Broadway League and is an ambassador of ReFrame for Women In Film, a formal action plan to further gender parity in the media industry.[22]

Awards and Accolades[edit]

Wagner was honored by Premiere magazine with the Women in Hollywood Icon Award in 2001.[23] In October 2006, she received the Sherry Lansing Award from the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Organization.[24] She was also honored by the Costume Designers Guild with its Swarovski President's Award in 2008.[25] In 2012, she was an honoree at the Deauville Film Festival.[26][27] She was one of the recipients of the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards in 2016,[28][circular reference] and the Camerimage Producer with Unique Visual Sensitivity award in 2017.[29] Her film Marshall won the Chicago “audience film festival award”.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Wagner is married to Rick Nicita, CEO of management and production company RP Media. They have two sons, Zachary and Jesse.


She was a producer in all films unless otherwise noted.


Year Film Credit Notes
1996 Mission: Impossible
1998 Without Limits
2000 Mission: Impossible 2
2001 The Others Executive producer
Vanilla Sky
2002 Narc Executive producer
2003 Shattered Glass Executive producer
The Last Samurai
2004 Suspect Zero
2005 War of the Worlds Executive producer
2006 Ask the Dust
Mission: Impossible III
2008 The Eye
Death Race
2010 Death Race 2 Executive producer Direct-to-video
2012 Jack Reacher
2016 Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Executive producer
2017 Marshall


Year Title Credit Notes
2011 Five Executive producer Television film
As writer
Year Title Notes
1978 Great Performances Episode: "Out of Our Father's House"


  1. ^ "Meet the First Lady of Hollywood". Guardian. November 11, 2007. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  2. ^ {{cite web|url= Wagner - Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB|last=league|First=The Broadway|
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  9. ^ a b Healy, Patrick, "Hollywood Player Joins the Club on Broadway", New York Times, November 1, 2012. "Paula Wagner turns to producing on Broadway." Retrieved November 4, 2012.
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  28. ^ Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards
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External links[edit]