Gavin Smith Family Offers $20,000 Reward

3:35 PM PST 06/05/2012 by Daniel Miller

The Fox distribution executive has been missing since May 1.

The family of Gavin Smith has offered a $20,000 reward for information about the missing 57-year-old 20th Century Fox executive.

Tuesday's announcement of the reward came as the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department stressed that there is no new information in the case.

"It is still an open and ongoing case," sheriff's department spokesman Steve Whitmore told The Hollywood Reporter. "It has not taken any particular direction."

Smith, 57, an 18-year veteran of Fox's distribution department and former UCLA basketball player, was last seen on the night of May 1 at a friend's residence in Oak Park, an affluent Ventura County community. He left the property in his black Mercedes-Benz E420 sedan between 9 and 10 p.m.

Whitmore said a tip that the 6-foot-6 Smith had been spotted in a Morro Bay, Calif., restaurant turned out to be erroneous. The potential lead received widespread media coverage. "It was not an accurate sighting," he said. "With each lead, when [detectives] confirm it is not credible, they clear it. That’s what they did with Morro Bay."

Smith is Fox's branch manager for theaters in Dallas and Oklahoma City. In his post, he serves as a liaison between the studio and theaters, making sure films get to their destination. He works out of the company's Calabasas office in the southwestern San Fernando Valley, not far from his residence in West Hills. Smith was a sophomore forward on the 1974-75 UCLA men's basketball team that won a national championship in legendary coach John Wooden's final year at the helm. Smith did not play in the 1975 championship game, but he logged minutes in two Final Four games the following season. 

Whitmore said detectives have received "dozens and dozens" of leads. The department also has conducted searches of undisclosed areas on horseback, on foot and with fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. "We've searched canyons and roads; we've searched towns," Whitmore said.

Smith's family has created a website seeking information about the executive and have taken to Twitter and appeared on television news programs to appeal for information about his whereabouts. In mid-May, the family planned a search for Smith and sought the public's involvement but called off the effort after consulting with the sheriff's department. (Howard Bragman, the crisis public relations counselor who helped the Smiths publicize the search, is no longer working with the family.)

Family members have said that Smith was staying with a family friend in Oak Park, which is also near Calabasas, on May 1 after returning from the CinemaCon theater-owners convention in Las Vegas. He was supposed to stay overnight with the friend, the Smiths have said. 

In an April 14 tweet that has since been deleted but has been widely circulated by media outlets, one of Smith's three sons, USC basketball player Evan Smith, suggested that his father had left the family. "Thoughts and prayers out to my amazing Mom and bros plz," he wrote. "My dad decided to leave the family last nite. Real family sticks together."

But in comments made to media outlets following the Fox executive's disappearance, the family has minimized any strife, saying that Smith and wife Lisa Smith have only experienced the normal ups and downs of a typical marriage. Evan Smith has told E! News: "They were not separated. They were just going through normal stuff couples go through."

Whitmore said investigators hope that the reward offer will spur someone with credible information to come forward. "Our hope is that it does help somebody's memory," he said.

The sheriff's department is urging anyone with information about Smith to contact investigators at 323-890-5500.

Email: Daniel.Miller@THR.com

Twitter: @DanielNMiller

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