Super Producer Craig Zadan Dies at 69

He was known for his theater, TV, and film work, including "Hairspray," "Footloose," and "Chicago."

Craig Zadan, whose production work could be seen on TV, in film, and on the stage, has died at the age of 69.

Zadan’s lengthy credits include the films Footloose, Chicago, and Hairspray. He was also behind three Academy Awards telecasts, and the TV film adaptations of Gypsy, starring Bette Midler, and Cinderella, starring Whitney Houston. He passed away on Monday night, at his home in the Hollywood Hills, of complications following a shoulder replacement surgery, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt announced on Tuesday.

Craig Zadan
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“It is with profound sadness that I am announcing the passing of my dear friend and colleague Craig Zadan, who died of complications following shoulder replacement surgery,” said Greenblatt.

“On behalf of his life partner, Elwood Hopkins, and his producing partner, Neil Meron, we are stunned that the man behind so many incredible film, theatre, and television productions—several of them joyous musicals—was taken away so suddenly. Craig’s distinguished career as a passionate and consummate producer is eclipsed only by his genuine love for the thousands of actors, directors, writers, musicians, designers, and technicians he worked with over the years. His absence will be felt in our hearts and throughout our business.”

Zadan and Meron’s most recent production for NBC, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards. Meanwhile, their TV movie for Lifetime, Flint, on the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, is up for best TV movie.

A number of actors who have worked with Zadan over the years have shared their sadness at his passing, as well as fond memories of knowing him.

I just found out that Craig Zadan has passed on. He and his producing partner @neilmeron are responsible for one of the most meaningful professional experiences in my career. They brought the magic of Broadway to prime time television with SMASH, and for 2 years I felt like I was living in a dream. They brought accomplished actors, real Broadway dancers and singers, Tony winning lyricist/score writers, Steven Spielberg, and Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Reback together with a pure love and drive to bring Broadway to all those who can’t afford, or travel to see a show in NYC. I loved it. And I loved Craig for his passion, and heart, and absolute belief in the endeavor. A kind, talented man who’d never really imagined would ever stop creating. RIP.

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