Paramount’s Centennial: An Employee Perspective

by Stephanie Owens, Paramount Pictures
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Paramount Pictures celebrated its 100th Anniversary this month and I was honored to be part of the festivities. Paramount is one of the world’s largest movie houses, making the history behind the curtain very extensive.To celebrate Paramount’s legendary history, the company dedicated its unnamed Administration building after Viacom’s Executive Chairman of the Board and Founder, Sumner Redstone. It was a treat to see Mr. Redstone up close and personal. It is apparent his vision and perseverance is much of the reason why Paramount was Hollywood’s No. 1 studio in 2011.

The celebration shifted focus from the newly dedicated building to a California-themed pool party at Paramount’s Blue Sky Tank, a space famous for incredible water scenes from films like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. There, I was able to catch up with some employees to get their take on what being part of the 100thAnniversary means to them. What I discovered was that working at Paramount has led to some once-in-a-lifetime moments for many of my fellow colleagues.

Fourteen-year vet Anita Ortiz was working in Government Affairs when the Democratic National Convention hosted an event on the lot in 2000.  Bill Clinton was in attendance and Anita was part of a group selected by the United States Secret Service to meet the former president – it’s a moment she considers the greatest of her career. Well, that and meeting her husband on the lot.  Talk about movie magic!

Linda Archibeque, who has worked on the Paramount lot for 31 years, has celebrated three milestones with the company: its 75th anniversary in 1987, its 90th anniversary in 2002 and this year, its 100th.

“My father was a TV repairman in Hancock Park and we would drive past the Paramount lot. He would say ‘That is where they make movies,’” Archibeque recalls. “I always wanted to work at Paramount.”

Archibeque applied for a job after high school and began working in the accounting department.  Soon thereafter, she found herself as Paramount’s location coordinator, assisting with Life Magazine’s photo shoot to commemorate the 75th Anniversary. She remembers the stage, the construction of the risers, how Marathon Street was closed to traffic and, of course, the stars.  “I was 26, I was a kid, and every star that I had grown up loving was there,” she said.

Helping to shape some of today’s memorable experiences is Nancy Reid, who has worked for Paramount’s Vice Chairman Rob Moore for five years. She has had a hand in everything from rallying more than 100 employees to make a Grease lip dub to spearheading our 100th Anniversary, but it was a special appreciation lunch given by Tom Cruise that really stands out.

“One experience in particular that is exceptionally cool was attending a lunch Tom Cruise threw in appreciation for all of those who worked on Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” Nancy said.  “It was held in the Paramount Theatre and was catered by Umami Burger. After lunch, Tom, flanked by the film’s director Brad Bird and producer Bryan Burk gave a champagne toast, each expressing their appreciation and enjoyment working with the Paramount team.

“And just when you thought it couldn’t get better, Tom took the time to shake hands and take photos with all of the ‘employee fans’ that approached him.  I sat back and watched all of this, thinking ‘this guy is the best!’”

For me, my favorite memory is hearing these stories from my fellow employees. From the lot we affectionately call “the campus” to the stars who make up our storied past, this is truly an extraordinary studio and I’m proud to be here.

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