‘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.

 

 

Home Entertainment Veteran Jon Barbour Dies

Home entertainment industry veteran Jon Barbour died July 26 after battling cancer.

Barbour was born and raised in Los Angeles.  After beginning his career in the music business, Barbour joined what was then RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video in the mid-1980s as VP of production.  He was responsible for the creation of all audio-visual elements, including trailers, sales presentations and television spots.

In late 1990, along with former RCA/Columbia president Gary Khammar, Barbour formed Light Source & Imagery.  As partner and EVP, Barbour used the skills he developed at Columbia and produced countless video campaigns for many studios and networks, including Paramount, Sony, CBS, Universal and Fox.

With the advent of DVD, Light Source & Imagery, began producing special features for this new format.  Barbour was instrumental in the creation of hundreds of hours of content, including most of the Paramount’s DVD library.  In 2011, the company began producing feature-length documentaries and television programs. Barbour oversaw the development of numerous projects, including Warner Bros.’ 90th anniversary documentary and “Case Closed,” the CSI television special.

“All of us at Light Source & Imagery are at a loss for words on Jon’s passing,” Khammar told Media Play News. “His creativity, talent, humor and heart were the core elements of this company.  I am heartbroken to have lost such an amazing partner and dear friend.”

“I had the honor of working with Jon during my five years at RCA/Columbia,” said Bill Sondheim, president of the Cinedigm Entertainment Group. “During that time I saw his endless energy and passion for creative content and design that helped define the category of special features that drove the DVD box set revenue juggernaut for all studios.  Always the optimist, his infectious smile could energize any room. He will be missed by all.”

“I’ve known Jon Barbour since 1984, and I’ve only known him to be a kind, humorous and hardworking colleague and friend,” said Fritz Friedman, former SVP of worldwide publicity at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Friedman joined RCA/Columbia in 1980 in New York and later worked with Barbour on several marketing projects.

Barbour is survived by his two sons, Justin and Dylan.

Filmmaker and Comic-Con Mainstay Jon Schnepp Dies

Filmmaker, writer, animator and larger-than-life YouTube personality Jon Schnepp passed away July 19 from the effects of a massive stroke suffered a week earlier, according to a statement from his fiancée and partner of 16 years, Holly Payne. He was 51.

Schnepp was a longtime editor and director in television, particularly in animation, and was a major creative force behind the 2006-13 Adult Swim series “Metalocalypse,” a parody of the culture of heavy metal music.

In 2015, Schnepp debuted the documentary The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?, in which he chronicles the production history of a Superman film that was supposed to be made in the 1990s by Tim Burton and starring Nicolas Cage, and why it was ultimately scrapped. The film was produced by Schnepp and Payne and received major funding through crowdsourcing.

He was often seen at conventions around the country greeting fans, selling Blu-rays of the documentary and promoting his other endeavors. Schnepp also wrote comic books, and in 2017 authored a comic book based on the band Slayer.

An ardent proponent of geek culture, Schnepp would often refer to himself and his fellow enthusiasts of genre entertainment as “Sweaties,” a reminder of his creed that it was OK to sweat over something you love (and also perhaps a reference to the perspiration such fans would often endure as a result of waiting in long lines during the hot days of Comic-Con to see their favorite actors and creators in panels and autograph sessions). This earned him the moniker “King of the Sweaties.”

In recent years, Schnepp was a major presence online, frequently seen on the Collider YouTube channel’s daily “Movie Talk” show and as host of the channel’s “Heroes” show, which was devoted to movies and TV shows based on comic books. He also made several appearances on the “Movie Fights” show on the Screen Junkies YouTube channel.

On July 9 Schnepp tweeted that he had been “super sick” the previous week, but felt good enough to host the July 9 and 11 editions of “Heroes,” though his voice was noticeably raspy.

Schnepp tweeted July 12 that he had checked into the hospital, apparently to combat the lingering effects of his illness. Scheduled appearances at the July 13-15 Wizard World convention in Boise, Idaho, and at San Diego Comic-Con International were subsequently canceled.

Payne July 13 tweeted that he was in critical condition, and in a statement released July 18 she revealed he had suffered a stroke on July 12, was unconscious and on life support.

In the July 20 statement announcing Schnepp’s passing, Payne stated that he had a blood clot removed from his left carotid artery, but doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding, causing him to experience irreparable brain damage. He died shortly after being taken off life support.

In addition to Payne, Schnepp is survived by his sister, Deborah, and his parents, David and Miriam.

The announcement of his death triggered a wave of condolences from celebrities and fans alike. Collider devoted its YouTube channel to a 24-hour live feed of Schnepp highlights, and Comic-Con’s Trailer Park exhibition July 20 in Hall H showed the trailer to The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? to tremendous applause.

Payne also tweeted that she will be working to complete some of Schnepp’s unfinished projects.

A GoFundMe.com page set up to raise $150,000 to cover Schnepp’s medical expenses had reached more than $130,000 in donations by the end of the day July 20.