Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was deeply saddened Tuesday over the death of his friend and newly-appointed film czar Tom Sherak.
"Everybody feels a strong sense of loss,'' Garcetti said in an interview. "He was a public servant long before he became a film czar."
In an emotional interview Tuesday evening, Garcetti said he was still coming to grips with Sherak's death after a long bout with cancer.
Garcetti picked Sherak to volunteer his services as director of the city's film office last September, hoping his years as a seasoned Hollywood executive and skills as a consensus-builder would help him serve as a champion for the local film industry.
At the time, Sherak openly acknowledged that he was receiving chemotherapy for prostate cancer, but he was confident his health problems were behind him, a confidence shared by the mayor and many of Sherak's colleagues.
"What's devastating about this is that Tom faced the challenge of cancer for many years," Garcetti said. "He was a survivor and fighter and I figured he was going to be able to fight it...He was the right person for the job."
Garcetti declined to discuss who would replace Sherak, the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, saying "this is a time to remember Tom."
But the mayor expressed confidence that the work Sherak had begun would continue under the leadership of his new deputy, former Time Warner executive Rajiv Dalal. "He was a two-person team, so I'm not worried about it," Garcetti said.
He recalled speaking with Sherak as early as last Thursday about a strategy to support the local film industry and lobby for stronger state film and television tax credits in Sacramento.
"The last meeting we had, it was very powerful," Garcetti said, his voice quavering. "I didn't know how bad things were. He insisted on that meeting, which was incredible. It was a powerful life lesson."