Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE, 12:45 PM: Reaction from Hollywood to Gil Cates’ death today is coming fast. The Geffen Playhouse in Westwood just released a statement mourning its founder and producing director, who in addition to his Oscar pedigree led the Directors Guild of America in labor talks and founded UCLA’s film school. From the statement:

Gil was many things to many people throughout the entertainment industry — to the Oscars, one their longest running producers; to the DGA, their longtime president and chief negotiator; to UCLA, the founder of their school of Theater, Film and Television; and to the Geffen Playhouse, he was our founder, our leader and our heart.

“Gil has always referred to the staff of the Geffen Playhouse as his second family” said Geffen Playhouse Chairman of the Board Frank Mancuso. “And it is as a family that we mourn this tremendous loss. Gil built this theater and he will forever be at the center of it – we honor his life by continuing the fulfillment of his dream. As my dear friend Gil would no doubt say ‘onward and upward with the arts.’ “

From DGA president Taylor Hackford: “There are few people in the history of the Guild who have matched Gil’s vision and influence on the organization and our industry. There was no greater champion of the creative and economic rights of directors and their teams and no truer friend to the membership, board and staff of the DGA. For more than fifty years, Gil has served the Guild — as president, as secretary-treasurer, as negotiations chair. It’s impossible to think of a single issue debated, program launched or battle fought on behalf of us all that didn’t have his special touch in its crafting.

From Steven Spielberg: “No one may ever again achieve what Gil Cates achieved in his contributions to the success of the Motion Picture Academy and the Directors Guild. In producing 14 Oscar shows for the Academy and leading the Directors Guild through challenging times and negotiations, he set a remarkable standard for dedication and excellence. He was the most liked person I knew and will be missed by all who knew him as a proud member of our industry and a great pal to everyone.”

UPDATE, 11:19 AM: The Academy has just issued this statement regarding the death of Gilbert Cates: “Gil was our colleague, our friend and a former governor of the Academy,” said Academy President Tom Sherak. “He was a consummate professional who gave the Academy and the world some of the most memorable moments in Oscar® history. His passing is a tremendous loss to the entertainment industry, and our thoughts go out to his family.”

Cates produced the Academy Awards® 14 times between 1990 and 2008, more than any other individual. He was responsible for first bringing hosts Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart to Oscar’s stage.

Cates served three consecutive terms as a governor of the Academy’s Directors Branch, from 1984 to 1993. He returned to the board for another term beginning in 2002, and held the post of vice president from 2003 to 2005.

PREVIOUS, 10:13 AM: Deadline has confirmed that veteran Academy Awards producer Gilbert Cates died at age 77. His passing was first reported by TMZ, which added that Gilbert’s body was discovered in a UCLA parking lot. Cates produced 14 Academy Awards ceremonies over a span of 18 years. We will furnish details when we have them.

Here are more statements on Cates’ passing:

DGA president Taylor Hackford
“There are few people in the history of the Guild who have matched Gil’s vision and influence on the organization and our industry. There was no greater champion of the creative and economic rights of directors and their teams and no truer friend to the membership, board and staff of the DGA. For more than fifty years, Gil has served the Guild — as president, as secretary-treasurer, as negotiations chair. It’s impossible to think of a single issue debated, program launched or battle fought on behalf of us all that didn’t have his special touch in its crafting.

“Gil Cates embodied this Guild. Through his decades of service, he guided the Guild gently and charismatically and with great wisdom, and perhaps more importantly, he established what it meant to be a leader of this organization and the entertainment community. He was a fierce friend, an even fiercer negotiator and somebody you always hoped was on your side but respected even if he wasn’t. Gil was one of the lights of this organization and one of the central reasons that I became involved in Guild service. From the time I joined the Western Directors Council in 1996, Gil was a mentor to me, encouraging me to take leadership responsibility and providing guidance all along the way. I was honored to serve with him for these many years and will miss him greatly.”

Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers:
“Gil was a true leader, a formidable negotiator and the strongest of advocates for the Directors Guild of America and its members. As the four-time Chair of the DGA Negotiating Committee, Gil was able to forge innovative compromises and resolve thorny problems in a manner that found acceptance throughout the industry. We are saddened by his loss and our thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time.”


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