Paula Wagner has worked in the top ranks of the entertainment industry as a talent agent, film producer and studio executive. Currently, Wagner is developing films, theatre and television through her production company Chestnut Ridge Productions (CRP).
Under the CRP banner, Wagner will produce the Broadway theatrical production of The Heiress starring Jessica Chastain and David Strathairn, which will be directed by Moises Kaufman opening in the fall of 2012. For television, she was an executive producer of the critically-acclaimed and award winning Lifetime original movie "FIVE." Wagner is also in the process of developing additional film and theatrical projects.
Wagner began her career at Creative Artists Agency as an agent where she spent 15 years representing some of the top talent in the business such as Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Val Kilmer, Demi Moore, Liam Neesan, Robert Towne, Kathryn Bigelow and others. In 1993, she launched Cruise/Wagner Productions (C/W) with her former CAA client Tom Cruise. For the next 13 years, she and Cruise produced a wide range of pictures 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 Nova Award for Most Promising Producers in Theatrical Motion Pictures.
C/W went on to produce such critically acclaimed films as The Others, The Last Samurai, Vanilla Sky, Without Limits, Shattered Glass, Narc, Elizabethtown and Ask the Dust, not to mention such international blockbusters as Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds (which Wagner executive produced). C/W was responsible for the Mission: Impossible film trilogy (Mission: Impossible II and Mission: Impossible III.). In all, films produced by C/W earned more than $3 billion in worldwide box office receipts.
Wagner was co-owner of United Artists Entertainment, LLC (along with Cruise and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.) and also served as the company's Chief Executive Officer from 2006 to 2008. During her tenure, Wagner orchestrated relationships with some of the top talents in the business including Oscar-winning screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Paul Haggis, Steve Zaillian and Academy-Award nominee Guillermo del Toro, among others. UA released the Robert Redford political thriller Lions for Lambs and the World War II thriller Valkyrie, directed by Bryan Singer and starring Cruise.
Wagner was honored by Premiere magazine with the Women in Hollywood Icon Award in 2001. The following year she was featured in Bravo's "Women on Top," a documentary which profiled exceptional women in entertainment. In 2004, she and Cruise were honored by Daily Variety as "Billion-Dollar Producers." That same year, Wagner and Cruise received the UCLA/Producers Guild of America Vision Award. In 2006, Wagner received the Sherry Lansing award from the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Organization. She was also the recipient of the Excellence in Producing Award at the Sarasota Film Festival and served as the president of the First-Time Directors Jury at the Venice Film Festival. In 2008, Wagner was honored by the Costume Designers Guild with its Swarovski President's Award and in 2011, she earned the Chicago Film Festival's Renaissance Award.
Wagner serves on the Board of the National Film Preservation Foundation through the Library of Congress, Film Forum in NY and Carnegie Mellon University (lifetime member), where she received her degree and is an adjunct faculty member in the MEIM program through the Heinz School of Public Policy. She is a member of the American Cinematheque's Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television. Wagner will teach a course at UCLA's School of Theatre, Film and Television titled "Stage to Screen." She is also an adjunct professor at Loyola Marymount University's School of Film and Television (Practical Realities of Film Industry).
Wagner travels the world as a visiting guest artist, having lectured at USC and NYU Film schools, Youngstown State Business School, the American Film Institute, the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation, the Harvard Business School, NYU and most recently DePaul University. She was a commencement speaker for the Tepper School of Business and a keynote speaker of the Toronto Film Festival.
Prior to her career as an agent and producer, she began as an actress and performed both on and off-Broadway and was a member of the Yale Repertory Company. She is also a published playwright, co-authoring the play "Out of Our Father's House".