News Article

The Youngest Guns

Hollywood's new breed -- Sean ''Puffy'' Combs, Jeff Zucker, and Quentin Tarantino are among the industry's 29 movers and shakers under the age of 30

With the inauguration of a fortysomething President, baby boomers have officially conquered the Beltway, but they're already behind the times. While Washington salutes middle age as a coming-of-age, Hollywood embraces youth — real, or surgically enhanced. In the world of entertainment, the latest leaders aren't boomers, they're babies.

And they're everywhere. They've had blockbuster movies (Boyz N the Hood, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle), signed hit bands (L.L. Cool J, the Beastie Boys), edited major authors (David Mamet, Julia Phillips), and taken over TV programming divisions (NBC, MTV). Moreover, the 29 wunderkinder profiled on the following pages are a new breed indeed. In the eyes of this generation, born after the death of John F. Kennedy, the optimistic bonhomie of postwar America represents little more than a black-and-white sitcom. Theirs is not an innocence lost; it's an absence of innocence that, for good or ill, will mark American entertainment for the next 20 years. They really are, as the politicians love to say, the future.

JOHN SINGLETON Director, 25
The youngest — and only African-American — director ever nominated for an Academy Award (for Boyz N the Hood), John Singleton exploded out of the University of Southern California in 1990 with an unprecedented two Jack Nicholson Awards (for writing), the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) agent they attracted, and the script for Boyz in hand. His directing debut, garnered after meeting with studio chief Frank Price, turned into one of the most profitable theatrical releases of 1991. With a second feature — Poetic Justice, starring Janet Jackson, directed and scripted by Singleton — set to open this summer, he has decided to explore other fields, too. He has signed the first act, Ruffnekk, to his recently formed record company, New Deal Music, and he's producing an HBO series (The Champ) as well as a television movie for NBC on Chicago housing activist Bertha Gilkey. ''I'm doing everything but selling T-shirts,'' he jokes. Give him time. — Nisid Hajari

JAY MALONEY Agent, 28
Jay Moloney is a young buck with a pedigree. A talent agent at the all-powerful CAA since 1987, the USC film-school graduate had barely landed in the agency's mailroom in 1984 before latching on to CAA chief Mike Ovitz, toiling as his assistant for three years before earning full rank. Make no mistake, Ovitz and Moloney are still likethis. Moloney has largely overcome the stigma of being a protégé by consummately catering to blue-chip clients — Martin Scorsese, David Letterman, Bill Murray, Tim Burton, Uma Thurman, Ben Stiller — and by finagling deals with industry honchos. As Columbia Pictures chairman Mark Canton observes, ''Jay has a confidence and maturity beyond his years.'' — Jeffrey Wells

TABITHA SOREN Journalist, 25
The daughter of an Air Force officer, Tabitha Soren moved often as a child, and, she says, ''I have no problem pushing my way into new situations.'' Apparently not. While getting her degree at New York University (NYU), Soren did internships at CNN and World News Tonight and wrote for Headbanger's Ball at MTV. Postcollege, Soren spent a year and a half in Vermont as a statehouse correspondent for an ABC affiliate and anchored the 11 o'clock news. She then returned to New York to freelance for MTV, until she became chief political correspondent for the network's Choose or Lose reports last year. Soren, who covered the Republican convention in August, did triple duty at the inaugural events last month, introducing President Clinton at the MTV ball and filing stories to both MTV and NBC. And she recently has started to contribute regular reports to the Today show. There, still on the move, she hopes ''to have the freedom to depart from being the voting poster child.'' — Suelain Moy

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