Women is...: Ruth Vitale, Hollywood Powerbroker

Ruth Vitale, Hollywood Powerbroker

profession: President of Fine Line Features, a division of New Line Cinema.

basic story: One of the handful of high-ranking women in Hollywood. Since 1995 she's been responsible for acquisitions, development and production of all films for Fine Line.

education: BA in literature from Tufts University; MS in journalism, Boston University.

claim to fame: Nabbed "Shine" at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival. This year the movie received seven Oscar nominations, and lead actor Geoffrey Rush walked away with an Academy Award for best actor.

the way up: Before she landed her first film job -- buying flicks for the Movie Channel -- she worked in advertising and media. Made her mark at Vestron Pictures as a senior VP on the hit sleeper "Dirty Dancing."
then what: After a stint at United Artists, where she was involved in the making of "Child's Play" and "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," she hopped over to New Line as an EVP of Worldwide Acquisitions, where she oversaw all New Line/Fine Line theatrical, video and international distribution outlets. Some of the films she brought to the studio before "Shine" were "Corrina, Corrina," "Widows' Peak" and "Don Juan DeMarco."

industry salute: Named one of the Top 50 Women in Entertainment by Hollywood Reporter magazine in 1996.

on picking movies, projects, scripts: "You try to decide what you think is going to touch people's hearts or be controversial, interesting or evoke a response. But ultimately all you have are your instincts to go by, and that makes it a horse race."

biggest moment so far: "I would have to say 'Shine': How many times do you get to go to the Academy Awards with seven nominations? That happens to people only once at best and sometimes never. It was really a celebratory day when we heard the news."

"Shine"'s underlying appeal: "It's the little engine that could. In the end the pianist [played by Geoffrey Rush] finally makes it, and that's what's so great about the movie."
women and the biz: "There are certainly more women now than when I started. But I've never been one of those people who say it's tough for women to be in this business. I'm not so sure this business divides itself by sexism. It divides itself by talent, aggression and intelligence. And you can succeed if you have a sane head on your shoulders, you're smart and hard-working.

advice for breaking into Hollywood: "First you have to decide what part of the business you want to be in. You can start as an assistant out of college and work for someone in production if you think you like production. Or there is the mailroom/assistant talent agency route at an ICM, William Morris or CAA. I've always believed that working in an agency gives you a really good overview of the business, and you can decide from there."

on balance: "You have to realize that no matter how many hours in the day you work, there will always be more work the next day. To keep a sanity level, you have to say, I'm going to have a professional and a personal life, and I'm going to keep them in balance. Sometimes you can and sometimes you can't."

current & upcoming projects: "A wide range of films." David Cronenberg's "Crash"; "The Quiet Room" by an Australian director, Rolf Deheer -- "a wonderful, simple, elegant movie about a little girl whose parents don't get along, and as a result she stops speaking"; "Love! Valour! Compassion!" with Jason Alexander based on the Terrence McNally Broadway play; "For Roseanna" with Mercedes Ruhl, directed by Paul Weiland, and "Gummo" by Harmony Korine -- "a very startling -- almost documentary -- view of what kids without love do in the suburbs."

tech savviness: "I don't personally use the Internet but Fine Line has a site."