SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. — Julie Rieger was part of a very special spring of 1987 at Miami High School.
While Rieger captured individual honors in girls’ golf, Robbie Taylor won a boys tennis title and the Wardog baseball program claimed its only championship.
“That was a good spring for Miami High School,” said Rieger, who has been executive vice president for media and marketing planning with Twentieth Century Fox Films (TCFF) since October 2017.
“I report to our CEO and I work on the data strategy as well as the media part (advertising),” she said. “I figure out who is our audience and where is our audience, what movies they have bought tickets to. I work on the ‘green light’ process. I love it.”
After her successful MHS career, which also included being a member of a state champion girls’ team (coached by Harley Turner who ‘will always hold a very special place in my heart’), Rieger earned a full golf scholarship to the University of Oklahoma.
However, she eventually opted to concentrate on academics, transferring to Southern Methodist University, where she graduated with a degree in advertising.
Rieger broke into the industry working for a Dallas ad agency then worked her way up to eventually lead west coast operations for ZenithOptimedia, overseeing a number of accounts, including TCFF domestically and Hewlett Packard globally.
Advertising Age Magazine named Rieger one of the “Women to Watch” in 2007.
One of Rieger’s more interesting moves came in 2013, when she placed two blank pages in the New York Times to promote Markus Zuzak’s novel “The Book Thief.”
Other than the paper’s datelines, the only text on the page was a URL at the bottom of the second page that led to a basic information site for the film.
At TCFF, Rieger has been responsible for marketing such movies as “Avatar,” the highest grossing film of all time, and the “Deadpool” and “Deadpool 2” series.
“With ‘Deadpool,’ we were the highest grossing R movie of all time,” Rieger said. “I was fortunate enough to work on both of them.”
She said lots of hard work has paid off.
“There’s a lot of people in the world who have worked hard and don’t have the fortunate outcome that I have been able to have in my career,” she said. “The secret ingredient is I am just myself. I don’t try to be like anybody else. I don’t want to be like anybody else.”
She said the work atmosphere at TCFF is very non-corporate. At the time of this interview, Rieger said she was wearing ripped jeans, a t-shirt and cardigan sweater
“I am a bit of a pirate in ways,” she said. “I am lucky to work for a woman — who is incredible — who lets my creativity and nerd hood run wild. We are able to do extraordinary things.
The old brainstorming axiom about throwing something against the wall and see if it sticks rings true with Rieger.
“I do a lot that,” she said. “I am in my office and I actually have a wall that has a whiteboard that is magnetic and I literally throw things on my wall.”
As if being a key executive with TCFF isn’t enough, Rieger has penned a book.
“The Ghost Photographer: A Hollywood Executive Discovers the Real World of Make-Believe.”
Miami is introduced in her semi-autobiographical book — which features her mother, Margaret under the genre of ghosts and the paranormal.
“Mom had Alzheimer’s for 10 year until it got her,” Rieger said. “When she died, I was absolutely devastated to say the least. Not long after that, I started seeing ghosts in photographs.”
She said she started talking to dead people, hearing them; not just mom.
“I just discovered this whole world that we can’t see,” Rieger said. “It talks about that and I talk about my own diehard skepticism about it.”
“The Ghost Photographer,” published by Simon & Schuster, is scheduled to hit bookstores and other outlets on Oct. 9.
“It’s strange,” Rieger said. “It’s very funny and heartbreaking at times. It will also make you question possibly some of your own beliefs. It certainly made me question some of mine.”