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Craig Zadan, producer of Oscar telecasts and Broadway, TV and movie musicals has died

This is the saddest most shocking news.

Craig Zadan, prolific producer of movies, television, and Broadway musicals, including Oscar-winning Chicago, Gypsy, Hairspray and five live musicals on NBC, has died.

He was 69.

“It is with profound sadness that I am announcing the passing of my dear friend and colleague Craig Zadan, who died of complications following shoulder replacement surgery, said Robert Greenblatt, NBC Entertainment Chairman. “On behalf of his life partner, Elwood Hopkins, and his producing partner, Neil Meron, we are stunned that the man behind so many incredible film, theatre, and television productions — several of them joyous musicals — was taken away so suddenly. Craig’s distinguished career as a passionate and consummate producer is eclipsed only by his genuine love for the thousands of actors, directors, writers, musicians, designers, and technicians he worked with over the years. His absence will be felt in our hearts and throughout our business.”

Of all the people I’ve met covering Hollywood over the past two decades, Craig Zaden was among the kindest and supportive. I had met him at various events over the years and done interviews with he and Meron about various TV and movie projects. But the meeting that meant the most to me was when we spoke at a cocktail party at the Outfest Legacy Awards in 2012, the year he and Meron were honored.

Craig thanked me for previewing the event and I expressed surprise that he had seen the article on my blog. He said that he reads it every morning. I said thanks and he must have sensed that I did not quite believe him because he then looked at me square in the eyes and said firmly: “I read you EVERY morning.”

To say that made my night was an understatement. For about a week after that, I’d be posting items and be thinking, “I wonder what Craig Zadan will think of this?”

It’s an astounding career he had. With Meron, he produced three consecutive Oscar telecasts and the live NBC musicals The Wiz, Peter Pan, Hairspray, The Sound of Music, and Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.

Their 1995 film Serving in Silence, recounted the legal battle of Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, who challenged “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” following her involuntary discharge under the law.

In the 2001 Lifetime movie What Makes a Family, Zadan and Meron recounted the story of a woman who had to fight for the custody of the child she shared with her deceased partner, and in their 2006 Wedding Wars (A&E), they told the story of a gay man who speaks out in favor of marriage equality when he discovers his straight brother, whose wedding he was planning, is behind an anti-gay speech.

In 2010, the duo returned to their theater roots with the Tony winning Broadway revival of Promises, Promises starring openly gay actor Sean Hayes and GLAAD Vanguard Award-recipient  Kristin Chenoweth.

Zadan and Meron’s Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying starred outspoken LGBT equality advocate Daniel Radcliffe.

The fabulous series Smash ran on NBC for two seasons and Drop Dead Diva ran for four, and the wonderful It’s All Relative ran for less than one.

Earlier posts:

***My chat with Craig Zadan about the Oscars!

*** Neil Meron and Craig Zadan talk to Greg In Hollywood about losing Zac Efron as lead in new “Footloose”

*** Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have been chosen to produce the 2013 Academy Awards

FILE UNDER: Broadway, Tributes


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