Brad Grey, the University at Buffalo graduate-turned-Hollywood mogul, died May 14 after a battle with cancer. He was 59.
Grey was most recently chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. He left that position in February after 12 years.
Deal-making has been Grey’s forte ever since the late 1970s, when he was a University at Buffalo student working for then-concert promoter and now-show-biz mogul Harvey Weinstein. Grey ran or helped run shows in Buffalo, traveled to his native New York City on the weekends to scout talent in comedy clubs, and eventually partnered with Weinstein to form a talent management agency.
Years later, after developing a healthy business representing comedians, Grey partnered with the storied talent manager Bernie Brillstein to form the agency Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, and then with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston to form the production company Plan B.
Grey’s penchant for making deals and aligning himself with the influential and powerful paid off in 2005, when he was hired to run Paramount, one of Hollywood’s biggest studios — thus making him one of the most prominent power players in show biz. A string of early successes – “Transformers,” “Star Trek” and “Paranormal Activity” among them – gave way to more recent disappointments including a $26 million loss on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” which, coincidentally, shot footage in Buffalo.
In a statement published on TheWrap.com, Weinstein said, “Honestly, I’m crushed.”
Weinstein continued: “His genius at picking and identifying talent was unprecedented. His relationships were warm, rich and inventive.”
Comedian Jon Lovitz said as much in an interview last fall with The Buffalo News.
Lovitz, who was a Grey client years ago, said, “He’d make great deals when I’d get offers, and bump them up to a lot of money. Sometimes I took his advice and it worked, and sometimes I didn’t take his advice and I should have.”
Lovitz said Grey “has a tendency to simply things” and helped him clarify key career decisions.
“He tended to not be neurotic (or) overthink things,” Lovitz said. “He’d be like… ‘Jon, yes or no?’ It does kind of come down to that. You either do it or you don’t.”
Grey is survived by his wife, Cassandra, their son, and three adult children from his previous marriage, as well his mother, brother, and sister.