Tuesday 17 October 2017

Former Paramount Pictures chief executive Brad Grey dies aged 59

Brad Grey co-founded the production company Plan B Entertainment with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Brad Grey co-founded the production company Plan B Entertainment with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Brad Grey, an influential Hollywood leader who served as the chairman and chief executive of Paramount Pictures for 12 years, has died aged 59.

Grey, who had cancer, died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles, a family spokeswoman said.

Before exiting Paramount in February, Grey oversaw franchises such as Star Trek, Transformers and Mission: Impossible, plus There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men, Up In The Air, The Big Short, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and Babel.

He also oversaw multiple films from Martin Scorsese, including The Wolf Of Wall Street, Shutter Island and Hugo, and produced Scorsese's The Departed, which won the best picture Oscar in 2007.

During his storied career in the entertainment business, Grey founded management and production company Brillstein-Grey Entertainment with the late Bernie Brillstein.

He co-founded production company Plan B Entertainment with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, and produced multiple Emmy Award-winning television shows, including The Sopranos and The Larry Sanders Show.

His Hollywood peers and colleagues paid tribute on Monday.

Director Ava DuVernay, who worked with Grey on Selma, wrote on Twitter that she had dinner with him prior to the film's release.

"Fab stories. Good laughs. And shrewd advice that I still use," DuVernay wrote. "May his soul be at rest."

GI Joe: Retaliation director John Chu called Grey "a really good man. Kind & classy and a helluva boss".

"Oh man the world has lost a gentleman," Chu wrote on Twitter.

Current Paramount Pictures chief executive Jim Gianopulos also released a statement.

"All of us at Paramount are deeply saddened by the news of Brad Grey's passing," Gianopulos said.

"I was proud to call Brad a friend, and one I greatly admired. He will be missed by us all, and left his mark on our industry and in our hearts."

Viacom president and chief executive Bob Bakish said he was "an extraordinary talent with a passion and gift for storytelling that won't be forgotten".

Sumner and Shari Redstone, in a joint statement, noted how Grey's "tremendous kindness and talent inspired so many of us in the entertainment industry".

"As a producer and industry leader, Brad brought great storytelling to audiences around the world," added MPAA chairman and chief executive Chris Dodd in a statement.

"His contributions to the creative community will be enjoyed for years to come."

Among his achievements at Paramount, Grey was at the helm for the release of the top-grossing film in the studio's history, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.

He led the acquisition of DreamWorks SKG, and shepherded the distribution agreement with Marvel, releasing Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America before the Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Studios in 2009.

Recently, however, the studio had struggled with underwhelming box office receipts for films including Zoolander 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows, and counted losses of nearly 450 million dollars (£349 million) last year, leading to his exit in February.

Born in New York in 1957, Grey started out in the entertainment business as an assistant to Harvey Weinstein, who was then a concert promoter.

His first client was comedian Bob Saget, and his partnership with comics, including the late Garry Shandling, helped make his name in the business.

Grey is survived by his wife, Cassandra Grey, their son Jules, three children from a previous marriage, Sam, Max and Emily, his mother Barbara Schumsky, his brother, Michael Grey, and his sister Robin Grey.

AP

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