The city’s first Film Czar was praised by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti today in his inaugural State of the City address. “With the help of my dear friend the late Tom Sherak and Ken Ziffren, who’s continued the …
The 73rd Pioneer Of The Year Dinner in honor of the late Tom Sherak just may have been the most emotional and moving event the philanthropic organization has ever thrown, certainly of those I have attended in the four years they have been held during CinemaCon. As 20th Century Fox President of Distribution and President of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation Chris Aronson said, it was also “historic” as it represented the first time the Pioneer Of The Year award was presented posthumously. That was not the plan when they selected Sherak, who passed away in January, for the honor several months ago. The dinner raised over $1M for the Pioneer Assistance Fund. Sherak’s widow Madeleine told me Wednesday evening that he was thrilled to be getting the award and was well aware of it before his passing. Still, she noted it was very bittersweet. ”When Tom died he didn’t leave anyone in charge. There isn’t a vice-president of All Things Tom. But what he did leave was a piece of him in everyone he touched. He didn’t have a number two, he had a number hundreds. We all have watched him through the years, we were mentored by him, he taught us to ‘do’,” Aronson said in opening remarks.
UPDATE, 1:13 PM: LA Mayor Eric Garcetti today made official what I exclusively revealed Saturday to Deadline readers: Hollywood heavyweight attorney Ken Ziffren will be the head of the City of LA’s Entertainment Industry and Production office. The card-carrying SAG-AFTRA member Garcetti said that Ziffren will be “a powerful leader in our fight against other states that are taking our jobs, and he will be aggressive about streamlining government so red tape doesn’t contribute to driving production away.” Ziffren takes over from former AMPAS president and studio exec Tom Sherak. who died January 28. See today’s full release below the original story.
Related: R.I.P. Tom Sherak
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, SATURDAY PM: Los Angeles is about to get its second Film Czar. Mayor Eric Garcetti has decided on Ken Ziffren for the job he created last fall and the powerhouse entertainment attorney has accepted the gig, I’ve learned. Ziffren will step into the position vacated by the death of the city’s first Film Czar Tom Sherak. The former AMPAS president and studio exec passed away from cancer on January 28. A formal announcement of Ziffren’s appointment to head the Entertainment Industry and Production office is expected to come from the Mayor’s office early next week, sources tell me.
Tom Sherak probably has a couple of words of advice for God about how he could improve things in heaven, Rabbi Uri Herscher told a packed Temple Aliyah today during Sherak’s memorial service. “And God should listen,” Sherak’s longtime friend added to hearty laughter from the more than 1,000 mourners attending the funeral in Woodland Hills, CA. The laughter was welcomed in a moving morning funeral that saw his widow Madeline, daughters Melissa and Barbara, and daughter-in-law Ginger speak of the loss of the man they loved so deeply. Madeline Sherak brought many of her husband’s fellow Hollywood power players and family friends to tears as she spoke of the life she and the former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president built from their meeting on a blind date in 1967 to his death Tuesday. She said how at peace Sherak was in his final days and how he told her he was “happy.”
Related: Tom Sherak: “It’s About Love”
Sherak’s children memorialized their father, sharing personal moments and remembrances — from how he, as “Papa,” interacted with his 10 grandchildren and the moments of laughter and love between them all. He would say, “I love you, I love you, I love you,” and keep repeating until the little one said, “I know Papa.” All of them spoke about the unconditional love Tom and Madeline had for each other.
Madeline Sherak also spoke about how the couple’s numbers were 22 and 18: They met on the 22nd of the month and were married on the 22nd when Tom was 22 years old and she was 18. Madeline said Tom told his parents that he knew he was going to marry her after their first date. Madeleine’s tears came as she said she would miss having his arms wrapped around her.
Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and host David Bloom talk about the Toronto Film Festival’s attempt to throw its considerable weight around on would-be premieres; remember the late former Academy president Tom Sherak, one of Hollywood’s biggest and most influential personalities; and ponder the potential Oscar impact of Alfonso Cuaron’s win at the DGA Awards for Gravity. David and Pete also survey the Oscar Best Song field after the Academy disqualified the surprise entry, Alone Yet Not Alone, for improper campaigning tactics.
Add Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh to the chorus of industry heavyweights who owe a debt to Tom Sherak, who died this week. The film business basically shuts down part of today as they gather to pay tribute to the former AMPAS head.
Related: Hollywood Remembers Tom Sherak
An Open Letter from Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity:
I first met Tom Sherak when I was a student at UCLA. Tom taught a course called “Distribution 101.” I was fortunate enough to not only have him as my teacher, but for him to become my mentor. That first class led to what would become a lifelong friendship and an incredible source of personal encouragement and strength for me. I always knew that no matter what the issue or how seemingly unsurmountable the problem, Tom would be there to guide me. I deeply mourn his loss, but more importantly, celebrate his life.
This is an incredible man. Tom strived to make the world better, and we should honor and remember him for his life changing contributions to industry, medicine and philanthropy.
In an industry where adversity is too often the norm and where new ideas are often fought with vigor, Tom was a consistent voice for positive change. He relished in the success of others — not for personal financial gain but for the love of being a great mentor and friend. Tom’s spirit will continue to live on through the many people he guided, helped and loved. His contributions are immeasurable.
Who knew that Tom Sherak touched this many people? Here is a note that was penned by Harvey Weinstein for Deadline, describing what the former Fox exec and Academy president meant to him, his brother Bob Weinstein, and COO David Glasser and distribution chief Erik Lomis. Weinstein was moved to write in reaction to Bill Mechanic’s words.
“Tommy We Hardly Knew Ye:
When I was a boy I read a beautiful memoir called Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye about JFK which his long term buddy Kenneth O’Donnell wrote. This is the best way to describe my, my brother, Erik Lomis and David Glasser’s feelings about a man named Tom Sherak. The first time Bob and I met Tom was over 30 years ago – we were just two rock promoters born in New York City hating every minute of the Rock n Roll existence. Fancying ourselves as movie producers, we came up with the novel idea of booking two movies, one called White Rock The Olympic Experience and the other, The Genesis Concert Movie and coming up with a marketing handle called Sensasia, the movie experience. Who the hell were we kidding and how the hell were we going to get theaters to play these two movies we put together and decided we would start distributing with no distributing background whatsoever? So we tried it out in our backyard and lo and behold it worked but there was an entire country to play and at that time the general cinema ruled the waves and ocean and the man in charge of booking theatres in general cinema was a warmhearted ebullient soul named Tom Sherak. He must have looked at us with complete and utter bafflement- just two shaggy guys with afros. We looked like we got off the Grateful Dead road bus and there we were with our dream of conquering the US distribution system with two 45 minute movies. Theater by theater, state by state, city by city, Tom Sherak took these 2 knuckle heads and helped them form a company called Miramax. That’s how it started: rock n’ roll movies with Sherak renting us theaters, booking us theaters, and guiding us. We knew nothing except we had an instinct and a flair for promotion and the movies weren’t half bad. Through the course of our lives he would always be there whether he was mentoring or mediating and trust me, David and Erik would testify we needed a mediator or two, but more importantly a mentor.
Tom Sherak‘s family has set a memorial service for 10 am Thursday at Temple Aliyah, 6025 Valley Circle Blvd. in Woodland Hills, CA. Immediately following the service, there will be a procession to Mount Sinai Memorial Park, 6150 Mount Sinai Drive in Simi Valley. (No cameras inside the temple.)
R.I.P. Tom Sherak
The nonprofit MS Hope Foundation has been renamed the Tom Sherak MS Hope Foundation in remembrance of longtime Hollywood power player, former Oscar Academy president and LA film czar Tom Sherak, who died yesterday at 68. He was a key figure at the charity, which supports programs and services and cutting-edge research to combat the disease. The foundation’s board president Annis Kishner announced the name change in a blog post this morning. Here’s the statement from Kishner, who was brought into the organization by Sherak; his daughter was diagnosed with MS at age 15:
Related: R.I.P. Tom Sherak
I went out to see Tom Sherak yesterday to say goodbye. As I headed out on the 101 Freeway to see him, every memory I had of him came rushing back. I first met Tom more than 20 years ago, and it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. It was 1992, and I was a reporter at The Hollywood Reporter covering film. It was the year of the Los Angeles riots, which had been sparked by the acquittals of four police officers who’d beaten Rodney King mercilessly. Fox had a movie coming out called Unlawful Entry, and there was scene of a white cop beating a black man, and I found out about it. I was writing up the story, when my editor, Alex Ben Block, came out of his office. Tom had called Alex and asked him not to run the story. It was news, so we printed it. Tom called me afterward and said: “I will never forget what you did. I asked for a favor, and you guys said no.” If there’s one thing everyone knew about Tom Sherak, it’s that he would forgive, but he would never forget — and he had a very long memory.
After that, I was a non-entity to Tom. Of course, we would bump into each other, and he would flash me that closed-mouth smile. Anyone who ever got on his wrong side knows that smile.
It didn’t matter that we had so many mutual friends, including the late marketing guru Geoff Ammer and my dear friend Karen Sortito, both of whom have passed. With Tom, if you were out, you were out. But over time, the animosity slowly wore off as we found that we thought highly about the same people and had much in common. He was working tirelessly to raise money for multiple sclerosis after his daughter was afflicted with the disease, and he found out that I was raising money for muscular dystrophy, also because of a family member. And, of course, the paths of our lives just kept crossing over and over and over again. I never lost hope that one day he would come around, because I knew that he was a good man with a good heart. Everyone knew that. He was a mench.
Related: Hollywood Remembers Tom Sherak
Tom Sherak got a star today on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Actually it was dated February 14, 2014, the day the ceremony was planned. But knowing his condition was worsening by the hour, the installation was moved up and the plaque was sent over and presented to Tom. He may not have been fully aware, but I hope he was. It probably doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things. The fact is everyone in this town knew what tourists strolling down the Hollywood Walk Of Fame will soon find out. Tom Sherak was a star — and a champion. Deadline’s obituary states many of the reasons why. So let me make this personal.
Related: Hollywood Remembers Tom Sherak
Former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak died today of complications due to a long battle with prostate cancer. The studio marketing, distribution and production executive whose Hollywood career spanned five decades was 68. President of the Academy from 2009-12, Sherak also was a champion of the Southern California Multiple Sclerosis Society, helping to raise about $40 million for the organization’s research and programs during the past 20 years — his charity work meant more to him than any of his business endeavors. Sherak died at his home in Calabasas, CA, surrounded by family and friends.
Related: Hollywood Remembers Tom Sherak
His family has released a statement this afternoon: “To the entertainment community: With broken hearts we want to share with you the news that Tom Sherak passed away today after a long 12 year battle with prostate cancer. He died at home surrounded by his family giving him hugs, kisses, and love. Tom is, was, and always will be, our loving husband, daddy, papa, brother, friend, and “Go to Guy.” He blessed this earth for 68 incredible years, and he will be missed every single day. Tom lived his life as an open book. He opened his heart and let the world in, and anyone who was lucky enough to know him knew first hand the power of his love. He gave everything he had to help others, regardless of whether or not he knew them. Tom is a true hero in our lives who has a star on the sidewalk and wings to fly. We love him so very much.”
In September, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Sherak as the city’s first film czar. Taking a $1 salary, he was tasked with putting together a plan to halt runaway production and increase the shooting of films and TV shows in Hollywood’s backyard. Along with his growing team at the city’s Entertainment Industry and Production office, he had brought aboard former MPAA President Bob Pisano as an unofficial “consigliere” and tapped former Time Warner exec Rajiv Dalal as his deputy. “In just a few short months, Tom laid a policy foundation that my Administration will stand on for the next four years,” Garcetti said tonight. “Tom’s work will continue through my office and the many charities to which he devoted so much of himself. Tom was a public servant in the truest sense long before he joined my administration. He will be deeply missed.”
In October, during his first civic event since being named film czar, today said he intended to have a plan to increase production in the city around the beginning of 2014. Sherak and his team were working on that plan when his health took a turn for the worse, though he told our Pete Hammond after his job was announced that his public battle with cancer was not an issue. “I am going through all kinds of stuff with my body, and somebody once said don’t make a decision when your body’s going one way and your head’s going another way,” he said at the time. “I took another couple of days and said I wanted to meet with the mayor. … I told him when it was all done to let me go home and talk to (my wife). I did, and she said, ‘Take it.’ I next called my oncologist, and he said, ‘Tom, take it; you’re going to be fine.’ And that’s what happened.”
Sherak began his career at Paramount in 1970 in distribution, and after a stint as head film buyer at General Cinema, he worked at 20th Century Fox in various capacities in the 1980s. That’s where he began to put his stamp on some of the biggest movies of that decade, first as President of Domestic Distribution and Marketing, then Senior EVP of 20th Century Fox, and eventually Chairman of 20th Century Fox Domestic Film Group. He oversaw such titles as Romancing The Stone, Commando, Aliens, The Fly, Broadcast News, Predator, Wall Street, three Die Hard movies, Working Girl, The War Of The Roses, Home Alone, Edward Scissorhands, the Star Wars trilogy special edition, Mrs. Doubtfire, True Lies, Speed, Independence Day and Star Wars: Episode I –The Phantom Menace. Afterward he became a partner with Joe Roth in Revolution Studios, which released more than 30 movies during its seven-year run including Black Hawk Down, Rent, Click and Rocky Balboa. After serving at treasurer at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Sherak was elected president in 2009 and served three one-year terms.
He also had been a consultant that worked all over Hollywood, including for Marvel Studios on its superhero pics including Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Thor; for Relativity Media; and Skydance Productions. Most recently he had an office on the Paramount lot and helped the studio work with the MPAA on ratings negotiations for Best Picture Oscar nominee The Wolf Of Wall Street.
‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ Had Its Own Consigliere For R-Rating In Tom Sherak; Exhibs Waiting To See How It Plays In Peoria
Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street will be released wide by Paramount Pictures on Christmas Day with a three-hour play time and an R-rating that some who have seen the film are surprised it received from the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration. Exhibitors who’ve seen it have called it everything from “rough” to “the hardest R I’ve ever seen from a major Hollywood studio.”
Most think it will play well on the coasts but question how audiences will react in Middle America once they realize the movie is quite different from what the ads indicate. (One exhib I spoke with Friday said it might be another Django Unchained – referring to the Quentin Tarantino pic that despite its violent content played well across the country.)
For Wolf Of Wall Street, the studio’s marketing team cut together a slick advertising campaign selling the party aspects of the film, which play to the young, college crowd (the demo that floods the marketplace during holiday break). But, the content is … well, even its star Leonardo DiCaprio aptly calls it “a modern-day Caligula.”
EXCLUSIVE: The former AMPAS president said last month that he was going to bring a high-profile industry individual on board at City Hall as his “consigliere” – and now he has. Former Motion Picture Association of America president …
Eric Garcetti said today at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s second annual State of the Industry Conference that he is serious about getting state politicians to expand California’s $100 million annual Film/TV Tax Credit program. “We are going to go to Sacramento and storm that place like you’ve never seen before,” L.A.’s mayor said. In place since 2009, the current program “should be expanded because it makes good business sense,” he added. Garcetti also told the crowd that he wanted to launch a campaign to show people how production in LA benefits all businesses in the city. His remarks came after various speakers from both the industry and Sacramento criticized the current $100 million annual lottery system program as unstable, unrealistic and providing too little money.
“We can reverse this,” said LA Film Czar Tom Sherak today of runaway production after being introduced by the mayor. “Can we reverse it 100%? No, but we can reverse some production from going to other states, other cities and other countries,” he added. While offering no specifics, the former AMPAS President stressed — as he has before — that the heart of his argument is middle-class jobs.
Listen to (and share) episode 44 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about the challenges facing new Los Angeles film czar Tom Sherak; producer Scott Rudin’s big weekend at the New York Film Festival, where his Inside Llewyn Davis and Captain Phillips debuted strongly ahead of the latter film’s wide sneak previews this weekend; the field of candidates for Oscar’s foreign-language film category, led by Iranian nominee The Past; and some of the movies that won’t be contending this year for Oscar after all. Finally, we’ll get Pete’s take on this week’s new movie releases, including Alfonso Cuaron’s “fantastic” space epic, Gravity, featuring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney; JFK assassination docudrama Parkland, with a sprawling cast featuring Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Jacqui Weaver and Marcia Gay Harden; and divorce comedy A.C.O.D., featuring Richard Jenkins, Amy Poehler, Jane Lynch and another large cast.