William Self, the former actor turned producer and head of 20th Century Fox TV for 15 years, passed away Monday night at UCLA Medical Center after suffering a heart attack last week. He was 89. Under his tenure, the studio produced Peyton Place, Batman, and M*A*S*H and other classic TV shows from the 1960s and 1970s. The Los Angeles Times has a good obit here. What isn’t there was his love of Old Hollywood. As one of his friends emailed me, “I knew Bill for 24 years. He was wholly unlike most producers: modest, quiet, good sense of humor. And he had a true love for the business. He played tennis with Chaplin, was close friends with Fred Astaire, Spencer Tracy, and almost every other name of old Hollywood. He could tell great stories of his times with Howard Hawks. He was not only a good producer, but a great guy. When he did the last two Sarah: Plain & Tall made-for-TV movies, he asked me to do the makeup. I had to turn it down because it was non-union. ‘I know,’ Bill told me, ‘but I didn’t want you to think I forgot you.’”
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UPDATE: Ed Limato’s office has set funeral service plans. This Wednesday, an open viewing will be held from 3:30-8:30 PM at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. A memorial service is being planned.
Tributes to the late WME agent Ed Limato refer to his passing as the end of a dealmaking era. After writing about Ed for two decades, I’ve got my own theory on what made him different. Top talent agents who nowadays put movies together in a challenging marketplace are compelled to take a team approach. That places the interests of one actor among many considerations. With Ed, protecting the interests of an actor client was the beginning and the end of the conversation. I observed this up close when Ed made what would be his last film deal for Denzel Washington, to star in the 20th Century Fox drama Unstoppable. The back and forth between Ed and the studio was so rough that he ended negotiations. He confirmed my inquiry that it was over, and let me know that Washington would look for another movie to fill that slot. Rarely are agents so candid, but Ed was worked up. Fox and everyone associated with Unstoppable were angry about my article. They felt I imperiled a good film, and that I allowed myself to be manipulated to sway a negotiation. After all, Limato’s savvy new WME colleagues …