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Los Angeles Film Czar -- Former Leading Exec at 20th Century Fox and Head of the Motion Picture Academy -- Dead at 68 LA Times

The man who was recently named by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as the city’s film czar has died, reports the Los Angeles Times. Tom Sherak was 68 and had battled prostate cancer.

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,” the story reports.

He also served as head of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 2009 to 2012, with his tenure marked by change -- including the expansion of the field of nominees for best picture at the Academy Awards.

Sherak’s death is a blow to Los Angeles’ film industry, a separate Los Angeles Times story reports.

The piece points out, “Sherak was charged with making the city more film-friendly and lobbying lawmakers in Sacramento to bolster California's film tax credit program. He was working with a coalition of industry groups to support legislation that would increase funding for the state program and lift some of the restrictions to make it more competitive with New York, Georgia and other states and countries.”

In a statement, Garcetti said he was “devastated” to learn of Sherak’s death. "Tom was a true Hollywood original, moving up the ladder to promote blockbusters, running the Oscars and having a bulging rolodex filled with not just A-list contacts, but so many close friends who were smitten by his humor, drive, and spirit,” Garcetti said. “In just a few short months, Tom laid a policy foundation that my Administration will stand on for the next four years."

tom sherak.pngTom Sherak