Brad Grey, the former chief of Paramount, died on Sunday from cancer at his Holmby Hills home with his family by his side. He was 59.
Grey stepped down as chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures earlier this year after leading the studio for 12 years. He came to Paramount from Brillstein-Grey Management, the talent agency he co-founded with the late Bernie Brillstein in 1984.
While Grey left a mixed legacy behind at Paramount — during his tenure the studio relied on such franchises as the Transformers movies, Star Trek films, and Mission: Impossible series and also saw the Al Gore climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth win an Oscar — as a manager, he left an even more indelible mark on the culture, playing a role in bringing such iconic TV series as The Larry Sanders Show, The Sopranos, and Real Time with Bill Maher to cable TV.
As executive producer of The Sopranos, he shared in two best drama series Emmys, and he also won four Peabody Awards.
Before taking on the Paramount job, Grey formed the Plan B production company with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, which began with a first-look deal at Warner Bros., where it produced Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Martin Scorsese's The Departed. When Pitt and Aniston's marriage ended, she left the partnership, and in 2005 Grey and Pitt moved the company to Paramount, which served as the company's home base until last month, when the studio signed a new deal with Megan Ellison's Annapurna.
Grey was pushed out of Paramount soon after Bob Bakish came on as the new CEO at Viacom to replace Philippe Dauman. In March, Jim Gianopulos, the former head of 20th Century Fox's movie studio, was hired to step in for Grey.
In a memo to staff upon his departure, Grey said, "It has been my privilege to be part of Paramount's storied history, and I am grateful to Sumner Redstone for giving me this opportunity. Above all, I am indebted to all of you, the wonderful people here at Paramount. Your creativity, professionalism, and integrity are second to none."
Born in the Bronx in 1957, Grey attended the University of Buffalo and entered show business by serving as an assistant to Harvey Weinstein, back when the indie film mogul was still a concert promoter. At just 20 years old, he produced his first concert, an appearance by Frank Sinatra in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1978. (He bought Sinatra's Beverly Hills home for $18.5 million in 2010 and then razed it). And as he tracked new comics, he discovered his first client, the comedian Bob Saget.
Grey also executive produced such TV shows as The Naked Truth, Mr. Show With Bob and David, The Jeff Foxworthy Show, NewsRadio, The Steve Harvey Show, Maher's Politically Incorrect, and Just Shoot Me!
His resumé as a movie producer also included Opportunity Knocks (1990), The Wedding Singer (1998), The Replacement Killers (1998), City by the Sea (2002), View From the Top (2003), Running With Scissors (2006) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007).
In 1998, while a partner at Brillstein-Grey, Grey was famously sued for $100 million by comedian Garry Shandling (they settled out of court a year later). Shandling's suit alleged that Grey's role as his manager and executive producer of The Larry Sanders Show represented a conflict of interest and that Grey was able to "triple-dip," taking excess commissions and fees out of the HBO series.
Grey is survived by his wife Cassandra Grey and their son Jules, born in 2015; his three grown children Sam, Max, and Emily from his marriage to Jill (nee Gutterson) Grey, his mother Barbara Schumsky; his brother Michael Grey; and his sister Robin Grey.
There will be a small private funeral service later this week. A memorial service will be scheduled in the coming weeks, the family said.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC.
Mike Barnes contributed to this report.
Watch a trailer for 'Opportunity Knocks,' produced by Brad Grey, and starring Dana Carvey:
Read more from THR: