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Fred Schneier, who oversaw programming at Showtime, headed Viacom Pictures and produced films for his own banner, has died. He was 95.
Schneier died Sept. 15 at his home in Los Angeles, his daughter, Diane Schneier Perrin, announced.
In 1983, Schneier moved from New York to Los Angeles to support the launch of Showtime Networks Inc. as vp acquisitions. He would rise to executive vp programming, responsible for the cable network’s programming and production.
Under his stewardship, Showtime acquired major film packages, concluded more than $1 billion in licenses for films and introduced boxing and other high-profile events to its schedule.
In 1989, Viacom International launched Viacom Pictures with Schneier as president and CEO, and among the films the division produced under his watch were Paris Trout (1991), starring Dennis Hopper; Taking the Heat (1993), with Tony Goldwyn and Lynn Whitfield; and The Wrong Man (1993), starring Rosanna Arquette.
He launched his own banner, FSA Film Enterprises, in 1993 to develop films and provide production and marketing services. Among the titles made were Convict Cowboy (1995), starring Jon Voight and Kyle Chandler, and Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story (1996), starring Louis Gossett Jr. and Charlayne Woodard. He produced both telefilms with his daughter for Showtime.
Born in Brooklyn on May 31, 1927, Frederick Schneier served with the U.S. Merchant Marine shortly after World War II, then spent a year as a U.S. Army broadcast radio specialist headquartered at Fort Dix in New Jersey.
After earnings bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NYU, Schneier began his career in 1953 at RKO Teleradio. He and mentor C.R. Manby founded Show Corporation of America, an international distributor of films and TV shows, in 1958.
He returned to RKO briefly in 1972 before joining the U.S. subsidiary of London-based Hemdale Leisure Corp. the next year as vice president and COO. During his tenure, Hemdale produced the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman title fight in Zaire and Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump, both in 1974.
He began his 14-year relationship with Viacom as senior vp film acquisitions at Viacom Enterprises in 1979.
In the mid-’90s, Schneier served as a board member and chairman and CEO of AFMA, previously known as the American Film Marketing Association.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 67 years, Joyce; son-in-law Bryce; and grandson Alec.
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