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Gil Cates, Oscar producer and Geffen Playhouse head, dies at 77

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Gil Cates, a highly versatile and award-winning director and television and theater producer who oversaw 14 Oscar telecasts and founded the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, died Monday at 77, the Directors Guild of America confirmed Tuesday.

During his tenure producing the annual Academy Awards telecast, Cates was widely credited with re-energizing a formula that had grown tired by recruiting such comic talents as Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Chris Rock to host the show.

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Cates also was the former dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Cates served two terms as DGA president from 1983 to 1987. A longtime Hollywood insider, Cates was an influential and well-regarded player by the studios.

More later at latimes.com/entertainment.

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-- Reed Johnson


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