Longtime studio executive and academy chief Tom Sherak dies at 68

Tom Sherak
Tom Sherak, seen in his office at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills in 2012 when he was the group’s president, has died.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Tom Sherak, who served in key posts at 20th Century Fox and was head of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 2009-2012, has passed away at 68 after a long battle with prostate cancer.

Over a long career in Hollywood, Sherak held high-ranking marketing and production jobs at Fox and eventually rose to chairman of the company’s domestic film group. He was instrumental in movies such as “Die Hard,” “The Fly,” “Wall Street” and “Independence Day,” among many others — and also worked closely with George Lucas and James Cameron while at the studio.

At the academy, Sherak’s tenture was marked by change — including the expansion of the best picture field from five nominees — as well as controversy, as when Brett Ratner was forced to resign the producer role of the Academy Awards in 2011 after controversial remarks to a radio host.

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He also pushed for an ambitious academy museum project that is tentatively set for opening in 2017, and set in motion changes to make the group younger and more diverse.
At the time of his death Sherak was serving as Los Angeles’ film czar, appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti last fall to help halt runaway production in Los Angeles.

Sherak’s family released a statement saying that “Tom lived his life as an open book. He opened his heart and let the world in, and anyone who was lucky enough to know him knew firsthand the power of his love.”


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