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Veteran L.A. entertainment journalist David Sheehan dies at 82

David Sheehan in 2019
David Sheehan, former film reporter for KCBS and syndicated entertainment interviewer, in Century City in 2019. Sheehan died Tuesday at age 82.
(Los Angeles Times)

David Sheehan, one of the most prominent entertainment journalists and critics in the Los Angeles TV news arena for more than 30 years, has died. He was 82.

Sheehan died Tuesday at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center from complications of a stroke he suffered last week.

“I worked with him the day before he went into the hospital, and he had a ton of energy,” said Michael Vincent, Sheehan’s producer and vice president of his production company. “He came to work every day with an inspiration that people he worked with and interviewed would have recognized as uniquely his.”

Last year, Sheehan revealed that he had been fighting cancer for several years, including small-cell lung cancer and prostate cancer. He said at the time that his condition had improved after an aggressive form of treatment.

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Sheehan became the first entertainment interviewer and reviewer on local television after joining KCBS-TV Channel 2 in 1970, first as a daily broadcaster and then as entertainment anchor. He jumped to KNBC Channel 4 in 1984, covering entertainment for the next 10 years.

While at that station, he also produced and hosted a series of network entertainment specials including “Macho Men at the Movies” and “Hollywood’s Leading Ladies.” He returned to KCBS in 1994, where he worked until his departure in 2004. He also hosted several specials previewing the Academy Awards titled “And The Winners Are....”

After leaving local news, Sheehan focused on producing specials for syndicated television. His “Summer Movie Magic,” “Holiday Movie Magic” and “Academy Award Movie Magic” aired annually on more than 200 stations around the country for several years.

For more than 30 years, David Sheehan was a mainstay on local TV working as an entertainment reporter, reviewer and interviewer for KCBS and KNBC, as well as producing network specials and the syndicated “Movie Magic” series.

David Sheehan with actor Jack Nicholson.
(David Sheehan)

Following his cancer diagnosis, he started to put together a special featuring some of his interviews with film and TV stars over the years. “The ‘days are numbered’ and ‘get your affairs in order’ cancer diagnosis inspired me to do it,” he told The Times in 2019.

The special, also named “And the Winners Are,” featured his chats with several celebrities, including Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. Culled from his KCBS and KNBC interviews dating back to the 1970s, the special premiered in June 2019 on Amazon Prime.

In his 2019 interview with The Times, Sheehan talked about his close connection with the stars he interviewed, saying their conversations went far beyond the specific projects the celebrities were promoting.

“These people allowed me to know them relatively on a kind of verbally intimate level over the years,” he said. “I talked to Clint in ’72, when he was on the top of the mountain with the success of ‘Dirty Harry,’ and I’m saying, ‘Don’t you worry about glamorizing violence?’ And he says, ‘No.’”

But in later interviews with Sheehan five and 10 years later, Eastwood was more reflective. “He [had] a new kind of growing appreciation of life and the sacredness of it,” said Sheehan.

In addition to reporting on entertainment, Sheehan engaged in other producing ventures. He joined forces with Bob Fosse in 1982, serving as the technical director for a live performance of Fosse’s musical “Pippin” that premiered on Showtime.

Sheehan is survived by three children and one grandchild.


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