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Producer Daniel Blatt Dies at 76

Daniel Blatt - H 2013
Courtesy Marti Blumenthal
Producer Daniel Blatt in the 1970s.

The attorney and former film exec put his stamp on such projects as the cult horror film "The Howling" and TV’s “Raid on Entebbe” and “V: The Final Battle” during his prolific four-decade career.

Daniel Blatt, who produced the 1981 cult horror film The Howling, the 1976 telefilm Raid on Entebbe and the epic 1984 sci-fi miniseries V: The Final Battle, died Oct. 9 of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 76.

Blatt, who started his career as an attorney, served as a vice president for Palomar Pictures from 1970 to 1975, overseeing such films as Sleuth (1972), The Heartbreak Kid (1972), The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) and The Stepford Wives (1975) before transitioning into producing.

Blatt was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding special drama or comedy with Edgar J. Scherick for producing NBC’s Raid on Entebbe (1976), an account of the daring Israeli raid to rescue Jewish hostages held at the Entebbe airport after a hijacking.

The film, which aired just six months after the real-life drama, was directed by Irwin Kershner, starred Peter Finch, Charles Bronson and Martin Balsam and won a Golden Globe for best telefilm. In fact, many of the TV movies that Blatt produced were fact-based.

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Those included Common Ground (1990), about desegregation in Boston in the ‘70s; Kissinger and Nixon (1995), starring Ron Silver and Beau Bridges, respectively; A Brother’s Promise: The Dan Jansen Story (1996), about the star-crossed Olympic speedskater; and Never Give Up: The Jimmy V Story (1996), starring Anthony LaPaglia as the legendary college basketball coach.

Earlier, Blatt produced the werewolf-themed The Howling, which was directed by Joe Dante from a rewritten script by John Sayles and noteworthy for its stunning transformation sequences and other state-of-the-art special effects.

His other feature-film credits included I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), The American Success Company (1980), Independence Day (1983), Cujo (1983), Let’s Get Harry (1986) and The Boost (1988).

In addition to his work on the three-part V: The Final Battle -- a ratings smash that averaged a 19.6 rating/31 share -- Blatt also produced a 1984 to 1985 NBC series based on the alien-invasion miniseries as well as a handful of episodes of the CBS crime drama The New Mike Hammer, starring Stacy Keach.

His last credit was the Lifetime telefilm Twist of Faith (2013), starring Toni Braxton.

Blatt was born in Rockland County in New York and attended Duke and Northwestern's School of Law. He represented freedom riders and civil rights protesters in Jackson, Miss., in 1964 before eventually making his way into entertainment law.

Survivors include his wife, literary agent Marti Blumenthal, daughters Jessica and Chelsea, grandson Benjamin, sister Ruth and brother Philip.