Gil Cates, a director and producer who produced a record 14 Academy Awards telecasts in 18 years, has died. He was 77.
Cates' body was found Monday on the campus of UCLA, where he was the founding dean of the School of Theater, Film and Television. The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office is investigating the cause of death.
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"Our entire TFT community is overwhelmingly saddened by the loss of our beloved mentor, colleague and friend," Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, said in a statement.
"Gil was our colleague, our friend and a former governor of the academy," said Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "He was a consummate professional who gave the academy and the world some of the most memorable moments in Oscar history. His passing is a tremendous loss to the entertainment industry, and our thoughts go out to his family."
Cates was credited for revamping the Oscar telecasts, tapping comedians such as Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock and David Letterman to host. He won an Emmy for producing the 63rd Academy Awards and last produced the 80th annual ceremony in 2008.
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A New York City native, Cates' career spans film, television and theater. He directed a number of films, including I Never Sang for My Father and the George Burns comedy Oh, God! Book II. His was Emmy-nominated for his TV movies Consenting Adult about homosexuality and Do You Know the Muffin Man? about child molestation.
Cates, whose niece is Phoebe Cates, also founded the Geffen Playhouse and served as Directors Guild of America president from 1983 to 1987.