THR veteran Steve Brennan dies
Ireland native specialized in international TV market
Steve Brennan talks with U.S.-Ireland Alliance president Trina Vargos about the history of the Irish in Hollywood. Listen
Steve Brennan, a 20-year veteran reporter and editor at The Hollywood Reporter, died Thursday at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 57.
Brennan was well-known in the entertainment industry as a tenacious and fair-minded reporter who tirelessly covered the entertainment industry, with a particular focus on the paper's domestic TV syndication and international beats.
"Steve often dazzled with his colorful style, but his insights into the biz were even brighter," THR editor Elizabeth Guider said. "He was one of a disappearing breed of old-school newsmen who had an unshakable work ethic, a global Rolodex and a wonderfully wry but affectionate view of the business of entertainment and the people engaged in it."
An Ireland native, Brennan began his career at Independent Newspapers in Dublin, where he received a National Press Award for his investigative reporting. He covered various beats, including the unrest in Northern Ireland.
Later he specialized in the entertainment business and, while still writing for Independent Newspapers, consulted with the Irish government and Irish film studios about the global film and television industries. Brennan also was The Reporter's Ireland correspondent before moving to Los Angeles in 1989 and joining the THR staff.
He eventually was named lead writer on domestic syndication until shifting his focus eight years ago to the burgeoning international entertainment marketplace and overseeing the paper's foreign correspondents.
"Steve immediately grabbed you with his spirit," said Chris Grant, president of ShineReveille International. "He was a true reporter whose years in the trenches never quenched his desire to learn the latest that the business had to offer. I enjoyed the time we spent together and would often forget that I was being interviewed -- the ultimate compliment for a reporter."
As part of his responsibilities as THR's international expert, Brennan regularly covered a number of the global trade shows and festivals, including MIP and MIPCOM, NATPE, the Los Angeles Screenings and the Festival de Cannes.
"Steve was always the most curious and engaged 'international journalist' of the many I speak with in the course of my work," Fox international TV distribution president Marion Edwards said. "It was always more than the obvious story that interested him. He was also a real gentleman and kept his battle against cancer very private until it became an issue for his work. He loved this business and working at The Reporter. I always looked forward to our calls, and I will miss him."
Then there was the fun side.
"I spent many hours on the Croisette in Cannes listening to Steve's great showbiz and Irish stories," said Jacques De Suze, director of international development at Woods Communications. "He was a great character and wonderful raconteur."
Stateside, too, Brennan made an impression on the many executives and publicists he dealt with in wrangling stories and putting together his signature trend pieces.
"Steve was a true original," CBS senior vp communications Chris Ender said. "He was very kind to me when I was a cub publicist learning the ropes. I'll remember him for his love of the business, his zeal for a party and a good time and for the way he treated everyone with kindness and respect."
Fox Reality Channel president David Lyle, who had known Brennan for 15 years, recalled how much he relished his role as a journalist: "He wore his passions proudly, and he had well-formed opinions, which he expressed in that mellifluous, beautiful Irish brogue. And while Steve could cover all the nuances of the Los Angeles scene, he never lost sight of the world. Yes, people will remember how many bars he closed, but they also will remember that he was a very good journalist."
Two years ago, Brennan published "Emeralds in Tinseltown: The Irish in Hollywood" together with his wife, stage actress Bernadette O'Neill. The book chronicled the parade of Irish screen legends who charmed and battled their way through a century of Hollywood history, from James Cagney and Greer Garson to Liam Neeson and Colin Farrell.
Ever the stylist, Brennan was ferociously painstaking and particular about his prose.
"In one instance years ago, Steve had a bone to pick with the copy desk about how his story was handled," THR managing editor Mike Barnes said. "He walked over all full of bluster, waving his arms and chiding us with that accent of his. I said, 'Steve, stop acting so, so ... Shakespearean.' He liked that a lot."
Said THR news editor Erik Pedersen: "Steve loved to amble about the newsroom to chat with everyone -- from a new hire to a visiting corporate exec. He put many a deadline in jeopardy, but I never saw anyone interrupt his stream of knowledge or blarney. We couldn't resist those stories, that brogue, that laugh."
As those in the THR newsroom often noticed too, Brennan had a rocky relationship with new technology, often unleashing his Irish temper on his computer and resignedly accepting the latest gizmo supposedly designed to make his job easier. Brennan was most in his element behind his cluttered desk with a phone in one hand and a pen in the other.
Brennan leaves behind his wife, Bernadette; a brother in Dublin; his brother-in-law, David; several nephews and other relatives in Ireland and England. Funeral and memorial services are pending.
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