Hollywood Mourns Death of Beloved Publicist Ronnee Sass

Veteran Hollywood publicist Ronnee Sass, who left her mark on home entertainment through lavish release campaigns for classic Warner Bros. movies such as Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz — and an engaging, ebullient personality that made her a favorite among talent and journalists alike — died March 20 at the age of 72 after a battle with leukemia.

She is survived by her husband of 23 years, Evan Diner, a brother and two nieces.

See also: Remembering Ronnee Sass in pictures

Acclaimed director Richard Donner (The Omen, Superman, The Goonies, Lethal Weapon) said of Ms. Sass, “In all my years at Warner’s, many of the brightest days were dealing with Ronnee Sass, because she cared for the people as much as the project. And she cared for both a tremendous amount.”

Ms. Sass began her home entertainment career at what was then Warner Home Video in 1995, after working in film distribution and co-founding an independent PR and advertising agency in Baltimore — Wolff, Freed and Greenberg.

Ronnee Sass

For most of her Warner Bros. career, Ms. Sass’ focus was on publicizing the studio’s rich library. Over the next 20 years Ms. Sass was instrumental in big anniversary campaigns for such storied classics as Citizen Kane, Gone With the Wind, Singin’ in the Rain, Casablanca, Blade Runner and The Wizard of Oz. She even brought the surviving Munchkins to Beverly Hills for a gala DVD release party for the latter film’s 65th anniversary in 2004 — and to New York five years later for the movie’s 70th anniversary release, a campaign that included a nationwide balloon tour. In January 2006 Sass was promoted from executive director of publicity and promotion to the newly created position of VP of publicity and promotion for theatrical catalog, under Jeff Baker.

“She was the best, most passionate, most beloved publicist in the history of home entertainment, up there with my friend Fritz Friedman from Sony,” Baker recalls. “You lived to see and experience her persona — what a woman! While many of our projects and events were worth covering, Ronnee took them to new heights and the press was never disappointed as she always delivered.”

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Other former colleagues of Ms. Sass agree.

“Ronnee was a consummate professional, working across the industry to bring the Warner Bros. library to fans everywhere,” said Jim Wuthrich, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. “But more importantly, she was a ray of sunshine, always smiling, lighting up any room she entered. She will be missed.”

“Ronnee had multiple talents that included the professional characteristics of an excellent journalist, and a unique forte in relating to people of all walks of life, from the most important celebrity to the average person,” said former Warner Home Video president Warren Lieberfarb, the father of DVD. “She will be missed, but always remembered.”

Ron Sanders, a longtime Warner Bros. executive who most recently served the studio as president of worldwide theatrical distribution while remaining president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, said, “Ronnee was that rarest of breeds who was so effortlessly good at solving the communications crisis of the moment, while being a genuinely wonderful human being. She always had a smile or a laugh and made all of us enjoy life more.”

Ronnee Lynn Sass was born in Baltimore, Md., on May 26, 1948. She graduated from Pikesville High School in Baltimore and went on to attend the University of Maryland, College Park. In the early 1980s she worked in film distribution for studio field agencies in Baltimore.

“I first met her in 1982,” said publicist Carl Samrock, who worked for Warner Bros. from 1982 to 1997. “I remember her incredible personality, her ability to relate to people — she just had this way about her, and when I had my own agency between 1997 and 2017, she was our first client. It was just amazing the way she dealt with people like Clint Eastwood, Dick Donner and Billy Friedkin.

“I still remember an event with Warren Beatty — we took a picture of Ronnee with Warren and hung it up on our wall with the caption, Ronnee and Clyde.”

After she left her Baltimore agency and joined Warner Bros., Ms. Sass initially handled aspects of the studio’s theatrical Oscar campaigns. Each year, publicity team members throughout the department would be assigned to staff the broadcast/event, and the Warner costume department would lend out dresses for the women and suits, if needed, for the men.

Ms. Sass left Warner Bros. in 2014.

As word of her death spread, tributes flowed in to her Facebook page, many from the home entertainment community.

Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, wrote, “Ronnee’s smile could light up any room. Such a wonderful and lovely person. She will be missed by all but never forgotten.”

Smith was at Warner Bros. in 1997 when DVD was launched and the DEG was founded as the DVD Entertainment Group.

Producer-director Chris Roe, who has produced documentaries on “Creepshow” and The Night of the Living Dead and currently represents legendary actor Malcolm McDowell, wrote a lengthy tribute to Sass.

“Words cannot express the extreme sadness I feel at this time after learning that my good friend Ronnee Sass passed away today,” Roe wrote. “Ronnee was an extremely extraordinary human being. She was the best publicist I ever worked with. We became very close friends during A Clockwork Orange’s 40th anniversary activities for Warner Bros. 10 years ago.

“Ronnee was a force of nature. … In a business where so many go out of their way to brag about how good they are, Ronnee simply showed her brilliance through her thoughtfulness, creativity and work. She had a fierce work ethic. She would work around the clock to get things perfect. … She was a shining example of excellence in her profession.”

Karen Penhale, a longtime associate of Samrock, wrote that Ms. Sass “was a stellar publicist for Warner Bros. who led us through countless amazing and successful publicity campaigns for all of the studio’s great classics. We worked hard, traveled together, laughed, cried, got yelled at by some talent and applauded by others and became dear friends in the process. Having worked with many of the best film directors in Hollywood, we were looking forward to lots of lunches in the future to remember all our great adventures together. I will miss her as will so many, many others as her friends and family now do. RIP dear friend, RIP.”

Ms. Sass was an avid gardener, creating elaborate flower arrangements and centerpieces whenever she could.

In addition to Mr. Diner, Ms. Sass is survived by her brother, Steven, of Baltimore, and nieces Lauren Sass Jacobson of Baltimore and Felicia Greenfield of New York City.

A private family service will be held, followed by a celebration of Ms. Sass’s life, to be scheduled at a later, safer date. Donations in her memory may be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Christopher Plummer Dies at 91, Leaving Extraordinary Film Legacy

Iconic actor Christopher Plummer died Feb. 5, 2021, at the age of 91.

The Canadian-born actor enjoyed a more-than 70-year career on stage and screen, beginning in the late 1940s with the Montreal Repertory. He would later enjoy a reputation as a top Shakespearean actor.

The Sound of Music

He made his film debut at age 28 in Sidney Lumet’s 1958 drama Stage Struck. He later gained wide acclaim playing Capt. Von Trapp opposite Julie Andrews in the 1965 musical The Sound of Music.

Plummer notably played a variety of historical figures, including Commodus in 1964’s The Fall of the Roman Empire, Eddie Chapman in Triple Cross (1966), Rommel in The Night of the Generals (1967), Wellington in Waterloo (1970), Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Archduke Ferdinand in The Day That Shook the World (1975), Aristotle in Alexander (2004), Capt. Newport in The New World (2005), Julius Caesar in Caesar and Cleopatra (2009), Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station (2009), John Barrymore in Barrymore (2011), Kaiser Wilhelm in The Exception (2016), and voicing King Herod in the animated film The Star (2017).

Other notable roles included Oedipus in 1967’s Oedipus the King, Sherlock Holmes in 1979’s Murder by Decree, Van Helsing in Dracula 2000, Santa Claus in Blizzard (2003), Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017), and the title character in 2009’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Heath Ledger’s final film.

In 1974, Plummer took on the role of Sir Charles Litton in The Return of the Pink Panther, replacing David Niven, who originated the character in 1963’s The Pink Panther.

Other film appearances included 1979’s Starcrash, 1980’s Somewhere in Time, 1984’s Dreamscape, 1987’s Dragnet, 1992’s Malcolm X, 1994’s Wolf, 1995’s Dolores Claiborne, 1995’s 12 Monkeys, 2001’s A Beautiful Mind, 2002’s Nicholas Nickleby, 2005’s Syriana, 2006’s Inside Man, and David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in 2011.

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Plummer’s presence in a project lent it instant gravitas and heft. In 1999, he played journalist Mike Wallace in Michael Mann’s The Insider, the story of CBS’s “60 Minutes” taking on Big Tobacco.

In 2004 he had a short but memorable scene at the beginning of Disney’s National Treasure, as the wise grandfather who sets Nicolas Cage’s Ben Gates on his treasure-hunting ways.

Staying with Disney, he voiced Charles Muntz, the antagonist in Pixar’s 2009 film Up.

No stranger to voiceover work, he played Henri in 1986’s An American Tail, narrated several projects, including 1986’s The Tin Soldier and 1999’s Madeline: Lost in Paris, and later played Dr. West in three “Howard Lovecraft” animated movies — 2016’s Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, 2017’s Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom, and 2018’s Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

He will be best known to “Star Trek” fans as the villainous Klingon General Chang in 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, chewing up the scenery as he recites Shakespeare with glee while attacking Capt. Kirk and the starship Enterprise. Director Nicholas Meyer, a Shakespeare enthusiast, reportedly cast him so he could direct one of his favorite Shakespearian actors reciting Shakespearian dialogue, which Meyer kept adding to the script.

Plummer had been longtime friends with “Trek” star William Shatner, who was Plummer’s understudy for a 1956 production of Henry V and took over the role when Plummer had to step away to deal with a kidney stone that had been dislodged during an amorous encounter.

In his 2012 autobiography, In Spite of Myself, Plummer joked that his so-called “sex injury” ended up making Shatner a star.

Among Plummer’s final roles was in Rian Johnson’s murder mystery Knives Out in 2019, in which he plays author Harlan Thrombey, whose death kicks off the story.

His final on-screen role was in the 2019 war drama The Last Full Measure, as the father of a soldier nominated for the Medal of Honor.

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Plummer was nominated for three Academy Awards, all for Best Supporting Actor, for 2009’s The Last Station 2011’s Beginners and 2017’s All the Money in the World. He won for Beginners, becoming at age 82 the oldest performer to ever win a competitive acting Oscar, for playing an elderly man who decides to come out after the death of his wife.

His role as J. Paul Getty in director Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World became highly publicized because he shot his scenes in 10 days to replace Kevin Spacey, who had been hit with allegations of sexual misconduct. The film was otherwise finished and ready for release, but the reshoots caused further controversy regarding the seeming disparity in what actors Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams were paid to return the new scenes, touching off a gender equality debate in Hollywood. The fact that he replaced another actor made Plummer something of a meme among Internet commentors joking that he could replace Spacey in older films, or other actors now deemed “problematic.” Plummer’s Oscar nomination at age 88 made him the oldest person to be nominated in an acting category.

Plummer also won two Tony Awards — Best Actor in a Musical for Cyrano (1974) and Best Actor in a Play for Barrymore (1997) — and two Emmys — Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Arthur Hailey’s the Moneychangers (1976), and Outstanding Voiceover Performance as the narrator of “Madeline” (1993). His chance at the noted EGOT was thwarted due to coming up short in his lone Grammy nomination, in 1986 for Best Recording for Children for E.T.A. Hoffman/Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker.

‘Black Panther’ Star Chadwick Boseman Dead at 43

Actor Chadwick Boseman, who generated acclaim for his portrayal of strong black characters and the lead in Disney/Marvel Studios’ groundbreaking Black Panther, died Aug. 28 at age 43 after a lengthy battle against colon cancer.

Boseman died at his home surrounded by his wife and family, according to a statement by his publicist Nicki Fioravante on social media. The actor had been diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, which had worsened to stage IV.

“It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” the statement read. “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”

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Boseman is most well-known for playing King T’Challa in Marvel Studios’ 2018 superhero movie Black Panther, which went on to win three Oscars and generate more than $1.347 billion at the global box office. The movie was the top-grossing release of the year, besting Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, Pixar’s Incredibles 2 and Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Boseman originated the role in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, and reprised it in Infinity War and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, the latter becoming the highest-grossing box office film of all time (unadjusted for inflation).

His performance in Black Panther earned an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, and a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the ensemble for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. He also won MTV Movie Awards for Best Performance in a Movie and Best Hero.

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Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in ’42.’

Boseman first came to mainstream attention playing Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film 42, which depicted the civil rights icon’s breaking of the Major League Baseball color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Coincidentally, the MLB had been celebrating Aug. 28 as Jackie Robinson Day, marking the day in 1945 Dodgers GM Branch Rickey told Robinson he was being prepped for integrating the league (baseball’s usual Jackie Robinson Day to mark his MLB debut on April 15 was wiped out this year when the league delayed starting its season as a result of the coronavirus pandemic).

Aug. 28 is also the birthday of Black Panther co-creator Jack Kirby.

Media Mogul (and Blockbuster Video Owner) Sumner Redstone Dead at 97

Sumner Redstone, the hardnosed media titan who only recently (2016) relinquished the executive chairman position of National Amusements, the private corporate parent of ViacomCBS, died Aug. 11 at age 97. National Amusements disclosed Redstone’s death on Aug. 12.

Redstone, who had been in declining health for years, only recently (and reluctantly) ceded control of National Amusements to his daughter, Shari Redstone. Last December, Ms. Redstone successfully re-merged Viacom and CBS after a 13-year separation originally pushed for by her father, including installing former Viacom boss Bob Bakish as CEO of the combined companies.

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“My father led an extraordinary life that not only shaped entertainment as we know it today, but created an incredible family legacy,” Ms. Redstone said in a statement. “Through it all, we shared a great love for one another and he was a wonderful father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I am so proud to be his daughter and I will miss him always.”

Much media attention has been focused on Sumner Redstone’s rise from lawyer and successful drive-in theater owner/operator, to corporate owner of Paramount Pictures, publisher Simon & Schuster, Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Showtime, Comedy Central and TV Land.

But he also played a key role in the home entertainment industry. The billionaire  saw the promise of Blockbuster Video — and home video’s cash flow — before most.

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Viacom acquired Blockbuster in 1994 for $8.4 billion to help finance its bid for Paramount from the studio’s boss and QVC founder Barry Diller.

“The only reason we got into [Blockbuster], we really needed the enormous cash flow [from the movie rental chain] to service the [Paramount] debt,” Redstone said in a media interview. “Strategically it made a lot of sense, and also we thought Blockbuster was a good business.”

Indeed, the brand became synonymous with home video, VHS and DVD — at its peak, operating more than 9,000 stores worldwide.

Redstone said Blockbuster over the years had its fiscal and management issues dealing with competitors, including eventually a small by-mail DVD rental service named Netflix. Redstone said Blockbuster’s issues in the beginning included not having enough hits available to rent, which left consumers with only catalog.

“Every video store was operating the same way,” he said. “Blockbuster tanked at one point [and] I tanked with it. Suddenly, I went from being brilliant to stupid.”

Redstone said he moved to Dallas (Blockbuster’s corporate headquarters), hired Jim Antioco as Blockbuster CEO, and together went to the studios in California to hammer out landmark revenue-sharing agreements for VHS rental titles.

“We buy tapes for $6, instead of $65. We sell them for more than we pay for them. It was a bonanza for Blockbuster and a bonanza for the studios,” he said. “So the Blockbuster story is pretty good.”

Redstone, in the interview, credited Antioco for pushing revenue sharing, which he said saved Blockbuster and Hollywood. Revenue-sharing allowed studios to share in rental revenues in return for discounted product costs.

“Without [home video], the studios don’t exist,” he said.

Redstone would eventually spin off Blockbuster with Antioco in charge, saddling the chain with about $1 billion in debt, from which it never fully recovered. Antioco, in turn, wouldn’t fully realize the rising threat of Netflix, including infamously turning down co-founder Reed Hastings’ offer to buy the upstart service for $100 million.

Netflix would then create (with Roku) the nascent subscription video-on-demand market, which Blockbuster never embraced until it was too late. The chain, along with major competitors Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery, would eventually cease operations.

Mike Clark, Veteran Film Critic and ‘MPN’ Columnist, Dies

Film critic and Media Play News contributor Mike Clark died July 31 due to complications from a fall a few days earlier. He had been suffering health issues for some time. He was 73.

His son, Nick, posted on Facebook, “As most of you know he had been struggling with liver disease for several years. Daily activities had become more and more difficult, but he still gave himself completely when spending (sometimes virtual) time with children and grandchildren and other family and friends. He also continued to write and work on his music project right up until the very end. He was with family in his final hours, and he passed very peacefully.”

Mike Clark

Clark, who lived in Virginia, had been contributing reviews of newly issued Blu-ray Discs and DVDs of celebrated theatrical blockbusters — as well as more obscure movies from the golden days of Hollywood and before — since Media Play News was launched in January 2018, as well as its predecessor, Home Media Magazine, from 2010 to 2017.

From 1985 to 2009, Clark was senior film critic and home entertainment columnist for USA Today.

Clark exhibited a passion for film from a young age growing up in Ohio. As a child, he appeared as a 10-year-old film expert on the popular TV quiz show “The $64,000 Question.” He followed that with a job at a CBS affiliate in one of the country’s largest feature film libraries, and later attended New York University’s Graduate School of Cinema.

Clark programmed approximately 150 film series and 5,000 individual titles over eight years as program planner, and eventually director, of the American Film Institute Theater (then located in Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts).

He also spent a year as film critic for the Detroit Free Press. A contributing editor to Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide since 1973, Clark was also an elected member of the National Society of Film Critics.

(L-R): Film critics Leonard Maltin and Mike Clark. (Photo courtesy of Leonard Maltin)

“Mike’s enthusiasm was second to none where movies and pop culture were concerned,” said film critic Leonard Maltin, who published his namesake guide from 1969 to 2014. “He was a valued contributor to my Movie Guide for decades. Even when he landed his job at USA Today I beseeched him to continue writing for the book because his reviews were so funny. I looked forward to his work in Media Play News, which made use of his tremendous savvy as well as his unique sense of humor. I will miss his writing, just as I will miss our friendship.”

In 2017, Maltin wrote an appreciation for Clark’s reviews in a blog post at his website, LeonardMaltin.com, and recalled how he first encountered “Movie Mike,” as Clark was known around the newsroom.

“I met him when he was attending the NYU Graduate School of Cinema,” Maltin wrote. “He and I bonded over our love for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and our unexplainable interest in the little-remembered Keefe Brasselle.”

USA Today’s Mike Snider said he was a colleague of Clark for nearly two decades.

“Movie Mike certainly earned his nickname,” Snider said. “He was a fixture of the USA Today Life section. His film reviews and columns were always incisive and readers were certain to learn something far beyond the particular films being critiqued.”

A huge fan of the New York Yankees and the Ohio State Buckeyes, Clark was “smart, quick and funny, and I was lucky enough to get to see him the last few years as he managed an art-house film theater near my home in northern Virginia,” Snider said. “The film industry has lost one of its great voices.”

Another former USA Today colleague, Jim Cheng, wrote on Facebook, “My heart is broken like the third reel of a grindhouse double feature. The great Movie Mike Clark has left the screening room. Friend, mentor, endless font of information (not just movies), father, grandfather, and of course, Yankee fan. Love to his family. RIP, Movie Mike. In his honor, I hope to spend the weekend watching classic movies.”

Clark is survived by his two sons, Nick (Megan) and Alex; grandsons Benjamin and Oliver; sister Marta (Glenn); ex-wife and close friend Cathy Crary; and many other relatives and friends.

Industry Veteran Jim Salzer Dies

Jim Salzer, a veteran Southern California home video retailer, died early March 15 after suffering a second fall.

Salzer, whose Salzer’s Music in Ventura remains one of the area’s top sellers of physical media, had been hospitalized after an initial fall in late February. Shortly after noon on Sunday, March 15, he posted to Facebook, “I can’t keep up with Facebook currently. I’m having a bad time with recovery. See you on the flip side.”

His daughter, Sage, writes on his Facebook page that in the late afternoon, “my dad and I FaceTimed and a few more hours passed and he is gone. Grateful for the countless hours we spent around the clock with him in the hospital after he took the first fall, breaking neck and back.”

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The Ventura County Reporter in August 2016 published a cover story on Salzer to commemorate his 50th anniversary in retailing.

Salzer’s first music store, according to the article, opened in 1966 in South Oxnard, Calif., but lasted only six months. One of his early customers was Jimi Hendrix, who came in to buy a new amp.

Jim Salzer

After several more moves Salzer’s  Old Fashioned Mercantile opened in 1972 at its present location, just west of the 101 freeway. When the home video industry began in the latter part of that decade, Salzer joined the growing throng of music retailers who began renting movies issued on the VHS videocassette.

The home video industry grew rapidly, and in 1980 Salzer opened a standalone video rental store in a former gas station across the street from his record store. “Salzer originally intended the space for parking, but the popularity of video convinced him to turn it into a retail outlet,” according to the VC Reporter. One of his first customers was Steve McQueen.

Salzer in the 1990s had served on the board of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), the home video industry’s trade association, and was a fixture at the VSDA’s annual summer conventions, which were mostly held in Las Vegas.

Before venturing into retail more than 50 years ago, Salzer was a concert promoter, producing shows in Ventura, Santa Barbara and elsewhere in Southern California by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Buffalo Springfield.

Fellow retailer Monty Winters wrote on Facebook, “I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of one of my dearest friends. … I am so glad we spoke last week. What an incredibly generous man. A great father, husband, grandfather, businessman, rock promoter, and community activist. When I was thinking of opening my video store in the early ’80s, I called Jim in California and we talked for hours about the video biz. He sent me blueprints for the fixtures I used in my video stores. … OMG, the stories this man could tell about Jim Morrison/The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, James Brown, and many others.”

A native of Chicago, Salzer was 78. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and children Sage and Brandon.

 

Twilight Time’s Nick Redman Dies

Film historian, documentary filmmaker and soundtrack producer Nick Redman died Jan. 17 at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 63 after a two-year battle with cancer, according to Variety.

Redman in 2011 co-founded Twilight Time, a specialty label known for licensing catalog films and issuing Blu-rays limited to runs of 3,000 copies released through distributor Screen Archives Entertainment’s online store, ScreenArchives.com. Redman was a frequent contributor on bonus commentaries made for Twilight Time Blu-rays. His wife, Julie Kirgo, was a frequent collaborator on the Blu-rays, often writing the liner notes.

Born in Wimbledon, South West London, in 1955, Redman worked for the U.K. Ministry of Defense in the early 1970s, studied drama at Kingston College and took on small roles on British television. He served as an assistant producer on several projects and also worked at the BBC before relocating to the United States in 1988.

As a filmmaker, he earned an Academy Award nomination for producing the 1996 documentary The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage, a retrospective of the 1969 Sam Peckinpah film The Wild Bunch. He also produced and directed 1998’s A Turning of the Earth: John Ford, John Wayne and The Searchers and 2007’s Becoming John Ford.

Redman also produced hundreds of soundtrack albums featuring the music of such composers as John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, Michael Kamen, Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann, Alex North, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lalo Schifrin, Jerry Fielding and more. He earned gold-certification plaques producing a Star Wars Trilogy CD soundtrack boxed set in 1996 and a special-edition Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope soundtrack in 1997.

He helped restore hundreds of film and television scores for 20th Century Fox, serving as a consultant to the Fox Music Group since 1993. For his work, he was given the Film Music Preservation Award by the Film Music Society in 1994.

He also conducted interviews for BAFTA’s Heritage Archive, and wrote for DGA Magazine and Film Score Monthly.

He is survived by Kirgo; his daughter, Rebecca; his brother, Jonathan; and stepchildren Anna and Daniel Kaufman.

Former Dish Network CEO Joe Clayton Dies

Consumer electronics industry veteran Joe Clayton died Nov. 3 of an unspecified illness at the age of 69. CEO of Dish Network from 2011 to until his retirement in 2015, Clayton headed the satellite TV operator when it acquired Blockbuster Video out of bankruptcy and launched online TV service Sling TV, among other achievements.

“Joe was a man of passion and vision whose influence on our industry is remarkable in its breadth and depth,” co-founder and chairman Charlie Ergen said in a statement.

Clayton, who helped bring shock DJ Howard Stern to Sirius Satellite radio in 2004, was inducted into the Consumer Technology Hall of Fame in 2008 and received the trade organization’s Digital Patriot Award in 2013.

“Joe was a strong and ethical leader — a lion of the industry, who was larger than life,” said Gary Shapiro, CEO of CTA. “He saw the future clearly and helped lead the industry in areas including direct broadcast satellite, HDTV, and satellite radio.”

Ergen said Clayton was a master marketer of CE brands that included RCA, DirecTV, Sirius and Dish.

“He mentored and influenced generations of leaders across our industry, including me. I am grateful for Joe’s leadership, his friendship and his generosity,” said Ergen.

 

 

Trans World Entertainment CFO John Anderson Dies

Trans World Entertainment Corp., parent of home entertainment retailer f.y.e. and ecommerce platform Etailz.com, Oct. 15 announced the unexpected Oct. 10 passing of CFO John Anderson. He was 49. Cause of death was not disclosed.

During a 23-year career at TWEC, Anderson served as CFO for the past six years.

“The entire team at Trans World and I are deeply saddened and shocked by the passing of John Anderson,” CEO Mike Feurer said in a statement. “John was greatly admired and respected by those fortunate enough to have worked closely with him. His life touched and had a very positive impact on everyone who knew him.”

Anderson is survived by his wife, Denise (Coffin) Anderson, two children, his parents and siblings, among others.

Home Video Pioneer Andre Blay Dead at 81

Andre Blay, founder of Magnetic Video and 20th Century Fox Video’s first CEO, reportedly died Aug. 24 in Bonita Springs, Fla. He was 81.

Blay help promote the home video market through Magnetic Video, which he founded in 1969. The company was one of the first to release Hollywood movies (Fox) on VHS. His Video Club of America was a precursor to the video store and Blockbuster.

Fox bought Magnetic Video in 1979 to create 20thCentury Fox Video with Blay as CEO. He left Fox in 1981 to start the Andre Blay Corporation, which he later sold to Embassy Pictures, to start Embassy Home Entertainment.

Blay, who was born in Mount Clemens, Mich., was inducted to the Video Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame in 1982.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Nancy, and two children and five grandchildren.