R.I.P. TV Executive Dennis Johnson

By | Monday January 6, 2014 @ 11:46am PST

dennisjohnson1Dennis Johnson, veteran television programming executive and producer, died December 23 while on vacation in Gustavia, Saint Barthelemy, French West Indies. He had suffered a heart attack hours earlier and died at a hospital in Gustavia, according to his longtime partner Russ Patrick. He was 68. The Kenbridge, VA native began his TV career as a page at NBC on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He went on to become Director of Comedy and Variety Programs at NBC, then VP Programming at ABC, before heading Osmond Television, for the Osmond family. Eventually, he became SVP of Programming at Showtime, where he established the Black Filmmakers Program. He was president of the National Association of Minorities in Cable (NAMIC) and served on the Board of the Special Olympics.
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R.I.P. Saul Zaentz

By | Friday January 3, 2014 @ 7:32pm PST

Saul Zaentz deadUPDATED: The producer who won Best Picture Oscars in three different decades died tonight in the Bay Area. Saul Zaentz was 92. He won the Academy’s biggest prize for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Amadeus (1984) and The English Patient (1996), and produced such other films as The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, Goya’s Ghosts and the 1978 animated version of The Lord Of The Rings directed by Ralph Bakshi. He also received the Academy’s Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the Producers Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award and BAFTA’s Academy Fellowship.

Over his long career, Zaentz produced several notable films adapted from literary works, including Cuckoo’s Nest (based on Ken Kesey’s novel), which earned he and then-young producer Michael Douglas five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was Douglas’ first feature film producing credit. Cuckoo’s Nests Oscar wins were notable because it was the first film since 1934′s It Happened One Night to win all five top Oscar categories. It also earned Jack Nicholson and Douglas their first Academy Awards.

When he joined with Cuckoo’s Nest director Milos Forman again for 1984′s Amadeus, about the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, they again swept the Academy Awards — this time winning eight including Best Picture, Director and Actor for F. Murray Abraham. And in 1997, Zaentz produced The English Patient, which for third time during his career led to a sweep of the Academy Awards, winning nine Oscars including for Best Picture, Best Director for Anthony Minghella (who died in 2008), a Best Actor nomination for the young Ralph Fiennes and Best Supporting Actress for Juliette Binoche (who worked with Zaentz years earlier in The Unbearable Lightness of Being).

Related: In Memoriam: Notable Deaths Of 2013

Never one to shy away from what he believed in, Zaentz became involved in a heated battle for many years with Miramax Films over monies owed from The English Patient and was outspoken about it not only for himself but on behalf of the actors and his director Minghella. But that was not his first legal wrangling. He was unafraid and unabashed to go head to head against companies for artists and himself. He also always went on the record with journalists, never hiding behind anonymity. He led a colorful and eventful life and was part of the Greatest Generation of those who served in the Army in World War II and, at one point, he made a living as a gambler. He was born Feb. 28, 1921, in Passaic, N.J., and relocated to St. Louis during his teens before moving to San Francisco.

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R.I.P. Galloping Horse Chairman Li Ming

By | Friday January 3, 2014 @ 5:40am PST

li ming 2Li Ming, chairman of film and TV firm Beijing Galloping Horse Group, passed away on Thursday night. According to reports, the cause was a heart attack. He was 47. The exec founded Beijing Galloping Horse in 1994 … Read More »

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R.I.P. Conservative Talk Radio Pioneer Bob Grant

By | Thursday January 2, 2014 @ 11:17am PST

grant6tvf-1-webBob Grant, the gravel-voiced veteran New York radio personality considered a pioneer of the conservative talk radio format, has died. Grant reportedly had been ill for months and passed away on New Year’s Eve, the website Newsmax and other media … Read More »

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R.I.P. Oscar Nominee Juanita Moore

By | Wednesday January 1, 2014 @ 5:03pm PST

Juanita Moore deadThe groundbreaking actress who scored an Academy Award nom for Imitation Of Life died yesterday at her LA home. Juanita Moore was thought to be 99. She was the fifth black actor to get an Oscar nomination, for … Read More »

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R.I.P. Newsman Mike O’Connor

By | Tuesday December 31, 2013 @ 1:01pm PST

oconnorMike O’Connor, a longtime CBS newsman and advocate for the safety of journalists in Mexico, died Sunday in Mexico City. He was 67. His wife Tracy Wilkerson, Mexico Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times, says O’Connor suffered a fatal … Read More »

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In Memoriam: Notable Deaths Of 2013

By | Monday December 30, 2013 @ 7:40am PST

2013 Film & TV Deaths

YearEnd2013_badgeThis year marked the passings of many notable Hollywood stars, filmmakers, personalities, industry movers, and media figures from Lawrence Of Arabia‘s Peter O’Toole to iconic film critic Roger Ebert. Click on thumbnails to browse Deadline’s In Memoriam 2013 slideshow and leave your own remembrances below for those we’ve missed. Read More »

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R.I.P. ‘The Pianist’ Composer Wojciech Kilar

By | Sunday December 29, 2013 @ 4:12pm PST

Wojciech KilarPolish composer Wojciech Kilar, who scored Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winner The Pianist, died Sunday in Katowice, Poland after a long illness, Association of Polish Composers head Jerzy Kornowicz told the AP. He was 81. Kilar, who studied in Paris and at Poland’s … Read More »

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R.I.P. Emmy-Winning Editor Marco Zappia

By | Sunday December 29, 2013 @ 2:40pm PST

Marco Zappia obituaryMarco Zappia, award-winning TV editor of Hee-Haw, All In The Family, Home Improvement and dozens of additional TV series and specials, died December 22 in Ventura, CA. He was 76. Los Angeles-born Zappia went from owning a TV repair shop to an award-winning career in editing that spanned four decades when he joined CBS in 1968 as an engineer in the videotape department, where he helped install the network’s first electronic editing system. His first editing gig on CBS’s variety show Hee Haw nabbed him his first Emmy and also marked the network’s first-ever win for editing. Zappia went on to edit numerous TV specials and series including Maude, The Jeffersons, The Sonny & Cher Show, All in The Family, Archie Bunker’s Place, Roseanne, and Faerie Tale Theatre. His prolific ’90s sitcom credits include My Two Dads, Dinosaurs, Who’s The Boss?, The Torkelsons and spin-off Almost Home, Where I Live, Thunder Alley, Boy Meets World, and Suddenly Susan. Zappia was twice-nominated for a Cable ACE award, for 1988′s Vietnam War Story II and 1982′s Faerie Tale Theatre and for his work on Home Improvement earned five of his 15 Emmy nods for editing. Read More »

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R.I.P. Richard Heffner

By | Friday December 20, 2013 @ 1:27pm PST

Richard HeffnerRichard Heffner, longtime host of PBS interview show The Open Mind and former head of the MPAA ratings board, has died. The Rutgers University professor passed away December 17 at his home in New York City of a … Read More »

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R.I.P. Joan Fontaine

By | Sunday December 15, 2013 @ 6:45pm PST

Joan FontaineOscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine has died, per the AP and multiple news reports. She was 96. Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland to British parents in Japan, Fontaine began her film career under contract with RKO in films like The Man Who Found Himself (1937), her official onscreen “introduction,” A Damsel in Distress (1937) opposite Fred Astaire, and George Cukor’s The Women (1939). A year after leaving RKO, Fontaine starred in the gothic thriller Rebecca as a woman haunted by her new husband’s (Laurence Olivier) dead wife. The film, Alfred Hitchcock‘s American debut, was nominated for 11 Oscars and won two including Best Picture. Fontaine earned her first Best Actress nod and reteamed with Hitch the following year for another domestic thriller, Suspicion, which won her the Academy Award over sister Olivia de Havilland, who was herself nominated for Hold Back The Dawn. Fontaine’s third Best Actress nomination was awarded for 1943′s The Constant Nymph. Subsequent films include Jane Eyre (1943), the Cannes-entry noir Ivy (1947), Max Ophüls’ Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948), Casanova’s Big Night with Bob Hope (1954), Fritz Lang’s Beyond A Reasonable Doubt (1956), Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961), Tender Is the Night (1962), and the Hammer horror pic The Witches (1966). Read More »

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R.I.P ‘Billy Jack’ Director-Star Tom Laughlin

By | Sunday December 15, 2013 @ 2:23pm PST

Tom Laughlin DeadFilmmaker Tom Laughlin, who co-wrote, helmed, and starred in the 1971 independent vigilante pic Billy Jack, died Thursday. He was 82. Per his official website, Laughlin passed away near his home in Thousand Oaks, California. Laughlin’s iconic … Read More »

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R.I.P. ‘Lady In The Lake’ Star Audrey Totter

By | Saturday December 14, 2013 @ 12:30pm PST

Audrey Totter Film noir actress and MGM contract star Audrey Totter died Thursday after suffering a stroke and subsequent congestive heart failure, daughter Mea Lane told the LAT. She was 95. Totter debuted in 1945′s Main Street After Dark and acted in … Read More »

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R.I.P. Eleanor Parker

By | Monday December 9, 2013 @ 9:12pm PST

eleanorparker2The three-time Oscar nominee worked with many of Hollywood’s most iconic leading men — including Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Glenn Ford, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, and Frank Sinatra — and such storied directors as William Wyler, Frank Capra,  Otto Preminger … Read More »

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R.I.P. Édouard Molinaro, Oscar-Nommed Director Of ‘La Cage aux Folles’

By | Saturday December 7, 2013 @ 4:16pm PST

edouard molinaro deadÉdouard Molinaro, the prolific French director who helmed and co-wrote 1978′s La Cage Aux Folles, has died in Paris. He was 85. The Bordeaux-born filmmaker died of lung failure, reports the BBC. One of his best-known works was the comedy La Cage Aux Folles about a gay couple who attempt to play straight to impress their son’s future in-laws. Molinaro was Oscar-nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, sharing the latter with Francis Veber, Marcello Danon, and Jean Poiret. The pic adapted from Poiret’s stage play preceded two sequels, the first of which was helmed by Molinaro, as well as a Broadway musical based on Poiret’s original. Mike Nichols’ American remake The Birdcage opened at #1 in 1996 and starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane with a Miami-set screenplay by Elaine May. For Molinaro, La Cage roughly marked the halfway point in a five-decade career during which he frequently directed some of the country’s biggest stars. Notable films include La Chasse A L’Homme (Male Hunt) starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac, Une Ravissante Idiote (A Ravishing Idiot) starring Brigitte Bardot and Anthony Perkins, Mon Oncle Benjamin (My Uncle Benjamin) starring Jacques Brel, and L’Emmerdeur starring Brel and Lino Ventura. Read More »

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R.I.P. ‘Ellen’ Actress Kate Williamson

By | Saturday December 7, 2013 @ 12:24pm PST

kate williamsonCharacter actress Kate Williamson, who played Mrs. Rogers on ABC’s Ellen and turned in supporting roles in films including Barry Levinson’s Disclosure, Dahmer, Dream Lover, and Racing with the Moon, died Friday evening at her Encino, CA home. She was … Read More »

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R.I.P. Christopher Evan Welch

By | Monday December 2, 2013 @ 6:48pm PST

Christopher Evan WelchThe actor died early Monday at a Santa Monica hospital after a sudden illness. Christopher Evan Welch had been in town shooting a regular role on HBO’s upcoming Mike Judge comedy Silicon Valley. He was 48. Welch had some three dozen film and TV credits, including the narrator in Woody Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona and a regular role on the AMC drama Rubicon. He also appeared in such features as Lincoln, Admission and Philip Seymour Hoffman starrers The Master and Synecdoche, New York. Welch’s TV work included episodes of Elementary, The Good Wife and Nurse Jackie and recurring on Law & Order. Welch also had roles on Broadway in Festen and revivals of The Crucible and London Assurance and Off-Broadway in plays including A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he won an Obie Award.  Read More »

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Photos: Paul Walker, 1973-2013

By | Saturday November 30, 2013 @ 10:11pm PST

paul walker deadFast & Furious star Paul Walker died Saturday in a Southern California car crash at the age of 40. He had recently been filming Universal’s Fast & Furious 7 sequel. Read more here. Click on photos after the jump to launch a slideshow.

Related: ‘Fast & Furious’ Star Paul Walker Killed In Car Crash

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‘Fast & Furious’ Star Paul Walker Killed In Car Crash

By | Saturday November 30, 2013 @ 6:58pm PST

Paul Walker Dead4TH UPDATE 10:20 PM: The Santa Clarita office of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department just issued an update on the fatal car accident involving actor Paul Walker, declaring that “speed was a factor in the solo vehicle collision” and listing the car involved as a red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT. According to sources, the man behind the wheel was Roger Rodas, a friend of Walker’s and owner of Always Evolving, a Valencia-based performance shop for high-end vehicles, who listed Porsche Carrera GT as one of his top 3 favorite cars of all time on the company’s web site. The two, who shared a love for cars, are believed to have gone for a ride at the end of the charity event for Reach Out Worldwide, which both Walker and Always Evolving supported.

Photos: Paul Walker, 1973-2013

3RD UPDATE:  The shocking death of 40-year old actor Paul Walker has begun to overwhelm a holiday weekend in Hollywood, and studios that worked with the easygoing star are reaching out with statements. Walker recently wrapped Brick Mansions, the remake of the parkour-heavy French action film Banlieue 13 that Relativity will release next November 27. He grew close with Relativity president Tucker Tooley, who said:  “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Paul Walker. Paul was an incredibly talented artist, devoted philanthropist and friend. Our hearts go out to his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

paul_walker_fast_and_furiousOthers who worked with the model-handsome star said that he loved surfing, loved his daughter Meadow, and that he was an animal lover. Despite his financial success from the Fast & The Furious franchise, Walker lived a relatively modest and simple life and did not get caught up in the trappings of being a movie star. He was a likeable young man who was devoted to his family. His full name was Paul Walker IV, and his father, grandfather and great grandfather all bore the same name.

Related: Paul Walker’s ‘Fast & Furious’ Family Mourns His Death

Universal Pictures, where  Walker made the Fast & Furious movies he was best known for, hasn’t yet disclosed how this tragedy will impact the movie that is now in production. Of Walker, the studio said in a statement: “All of us at Universal are heartbroken. Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”

2ND UPDATE: Fast & Furious star Paul Walker was riding as passenger at the end of a charity event for Reach Out Worldwide at the time of his death, according to an update to his Paul Walker‘s official Twitter and Facebook page: “It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. – #TeamPW”

PREVIOUS 6:58 PM: Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker has died, his rep team has confirmed. He was 40. TMZ first reported Walker was one of two passengers killed in a car crash in Santa Clarita County, California. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff department has confirmed to Deadline that a fatal collision occurred Saturday afternoon at 3:30 PM on Rye Canyon Loop in Valencia where two victims inside a vehicle engulfed in flames were pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the collision is under investigation. Read More »

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