Tributes to a Hollywood dealmaker

Dhaka,  Sat,  24 June 2017
Published : 20 May 2017, 16:39:38
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Tributes to a Hollywood dealmaker

Brad Grey, died aged 59, started out a talent manager representing comedians: Garry Shandling, the star of The Larry Sanders Show, and Bob Saget were among his early clients. But there was only so much that could be done from Buffalo, according to a global media report Saturday.

Hollywood beckoned and in 1981 he moved to southern California where the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is steeped in the glory and traditions of old Hollywood, was his first stop. Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin made films there and Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned there more than once.

It was at the Polo Lounge that he first met Bernie Brillstein, a talent manager who represented comic stars like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Lorne Michaels, the producer of Saturday Night Live. The two struck up a friendship and business relationship that would last decades.

In 1992 they created Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, which would go on to produce The Sopranos, the hit HBO mafia drama starring the late James Gandolfini. David Chase, a Brillstein-Grey client, created the show.

The Sopranos also changed television, which had languished in cinema’s shadow for decades. It was the catalyst for a small screen revolution: hit series like Mad Men and Breaking Bad would not have been made if not for The Sopranos.

Grey’s relationships with top creative talent had not gone unnoticed in Hollywood. In 2005 Sumner Redstone’s Viacom hired him to run Paramount Pictures, hoping that he would restore the studio behind The Godfather to glory. Over the years Grey and Paramount released several critical hits alongside popcorn fare such as the Transformers movies.

 There Will Be Blood, the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit and No Country for Old Men were distributed by Paramount while Plan B Entertainment, the production company he started with Brad Pitt, landed best picture Oscars for The Departed and Twelve Years a Slave.

But Hollywood was changing. Splashy films that could become global franchises, spinning off multiple sequels, began to drive industry profits and Paramount did not have as many as its competitors. Grey recognised this and acquired Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks studio although relations between him and David Geffen, one of its founding shareholders, became acrimonious. Mr Spielberg and his partners eventually raised new money and took DreamWorks elsewhere.
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