Industry Mourns Loss of ParatoreExecutive launched 'TMZ,' 'Ellen' and 'Extra,' left ‘indelible mark’ 6/04/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
Jim Paratore, a TV executive
highly respected throughout the
industry, died last week after suffering
a heart attack while on a cycling
trip in France. He was 58.
For the many people who knew Paratore,
the loss of the hard-driving producer and
show salesman came as a tragic shock.
“The Warner Bros. Television family has
lost an incredibly talented and creative
friend and colleague in Jim,” said Bruce
Rosenblum, president, Warner Bros. Television
Group. “He has left an indelible
mark not only on our company’s success
but on each of us who worked with him
during the past 26 years.”
“We all loved Jim for his vision, his incredible
wisdom and timing, his passion for
the business and for every single thing he ever
did,” said Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president
of Telepictures. “He inspired us to never compromise
and to always shoot for the moon. I
am heartbroken and will miss him profoundly.”
Paratore was such a strong executive that
when Leslie Moonves left Warner Bros. to head
CBS, he tried to bring Paratore with him.
“He was one of the best guys I ever had the
opportunity to work with,” Moonves said.
“In the syndication business—which is about
as brutal a business as I’ve ever seen, where
people from opposing companies truly hate
each other—he was well-liked by everybody
and he always delivered. When I left Warner
Bros., I tried to bring him over to CBS, but he
always remained loyal to Warners.”
At the time of his death, Paratore was running
paraMedia inc., a full-service production
company that he founded in August 2006, and
through which he had an exclusive overall deal
with Warner Bros. Television Group. Prior to
that, Paratore was president of
Telepictures Productions from
1992 to 2006 and served as
executive VP of Warner Bros.
Domestic Television Distribution
from 2002-06. Paratore
started at Lorimar-Telepictures
as VP of production in 1987.
He was the driving force behind
many programs, including
TMZ, The Ellen DeGeneres
Show, Extra, Lopez Tonight and
People’s Court. Most recently, Paratore was
working closely with Scripps to develop a new
game show, Let’s Ask America.
Ellen DeGeneres credits Paratore with believing
that she could host a successful talk
show, even though with an “out” lesbian as
its star, he would have to overcome objections
from TV station owners to get the show
on the air in 2003. Paratore had so much
faith in DeGeneres’ talent that he traveled
around the country to watch her standup
shows, bringing station managers with
him until they agreed to give her talk
show a chance.
“My friend, producer and champion Jim
Paratore died today,” DeGeneres tweeted
last Tuesday. “He gave me a chance when
no one else would. I love you, Jim.”
Although in recent years Paratore spent
his time developing and producing programs,
he also was a superstar salesman,
working as right-hand man to Dick Robertson
at WBDTD from 2002-06.
“Jim was a bullet train,” recalled Lisa
Gregorisch-Dempsey, senior executive VP
of Warner Bros.’ Extra. “You could never
stand in Jim’s way if he was selling something.”
When Paratore was developing TMZ.com,
he turned to Harvey Levin, whom he had known
since 1983, to run the site. In 2005, Levin’s
show, Celebrity Justice, was about to be cancelled.
“Toward the end of that run, Jim called me
up and said, ‘We’re starting a partnership with
AOL and we want to start this Website.’ I said
I could not be less interested,” said Levin.
“Later, I realized he was really asking me this
because he was about to kill my show. It occurred
to me, what if this were a news operation?
Jim and I started talking, and that’s how
we formed the whole concept behind TMZ.
“Jim was a triple threat,” Levin added. “He
knew how to create shows. He knew how
to produce shows. And he knew how to sell
shows. Very few people can do all three. I
can’t tell you the impact he’s had on my life.
He was such a great partner.”
Paratore is survived by his wife, Jill Wickert;
his daughter, Martinique Paratore; and countless
friends and colleagues.