Just three months after his exit as the chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, Brad Grey — who oversaw the release of commercial successes like the Transformers film series and Oscar-winning critical favorites like There Will Be Blood, An Inconvenient Truth, and No Country for Old Men — died Sunday night following a battle with cancer. He was 59.
Grey’s family issued a statement confirming the movie mogul passed at his home in Holmby Hills, California, surrounded by family, who will host a private funeral service in the days ahead, according to the Los Angeles Times. A memorial service is set to take place in the coming weeks.
Born in the Bronx, Grey went on to get his start in entertainment promoting rock concerts as an assistant to Harvey Weinstein. He then cut his teeth as a talent manager, working with stand-up comics from Bob Saget to Garry Shandling, whom he would later place at the center of Showtime’s successful sitcom It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, which ran from 1986-1990. Later, he’d work with Bernie Brillstein to launch Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, a management and production outfit responsible for developing The Sopranos and The Larry Sanders Show into major hits.
The former executive held his post at Paramount for 12 years, following his co-founding of Plan B Entertainment alongside Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Pitt would eventually take over Plan B, though he ultimately followed Grey as the production company teamed with Paramount, where it retained first look status until a December 2013 contract expiration. Plan B later moved to New Regency, and now sits at Megan Ellison’s Annapurna under a three-year production agreement.
During his Paramount tenure, Grey also facilitated successes like the Paranormal Activity franchise, Babel, Up In the Air, Hugo, and The Fighter, as well as reinvigorating Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible series. The recent underperforming of studio releases — which resulted in a reported $450 million in annual losses — led to his exit earlier this year.
Various Hollywood professionals took to social media on Monday to remember Grey, including Ava DuVernay, Guardians of the Galaxy‘s James Gunn and G.I. Joe: Retaliation filmmaker Jon M. Chu.
“Before SELMA was released, he invited me to dinner. Fab stories. Good laughs. And shrewd advice that I still use. May his soul be at rest,” DuVernay, who worked with Paramount to release her Academy Award-winning Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma in 2014, wrote.
“Rest In Peace, Brad Grey. He was always good to me, in the small passing moments we had. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones,” Gunn tweeted. Chu added: “Shocked &saddened by the loss of Brad Grey. He was a really good man. Kind &classy and a helluva boss. Oh man the world has lost a gentleman.”
“All of us at Paramount are deeply saddened by the news of Brad Grey’s passing. He was at the helm of the studio for over a decade and was responsible for so many of it’s most beloved films. We extend our deepest sympathies to Cassandra, Max, Sam, Emily and Jules Grey, along with Brad’s mother, brother and sister,” Jim Gianopulos, current CEO of Paramount, said of Grey’s death via statement. “I was proud to call Brad a friend, and one I greatly admired. He will be missed by us all, and left his mark on our industry and in our hearts.”
Grey is survived by his wife, Cassandra, their son, Jules; three grown children — Sam, Max and Emily — from a previous marriage to Jill (nee Gutterson) Grey; his mother, Barbara Schumsky, and siblings Michael and Robin.