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Alison Greenspan, the executive producer behind The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and its sequel and the ABC show For Life, died Sunday after a long battle with cancer. She was 48.
Her husband, Jason Michaels, confirmed the news of Greenspan’s death, adding that she was surrounded by the love of her family.
Greenspan’s producing career focused on adapting best-selling books, bringing to the screen works by Nicholas Sparks, Michelle Wildgen, Gayle Forman, Beverly Cleary and Ann Brashares.
Born Alison Sheryl Greenspan in Washington, D.C., Greenspan attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude in 1994 with a degree in American history and political science.
While at Penn, her time on the acclaimed Bloomers all-female sketch and musical-comedy group sparked her interest in entertainment. She began her career in Hollywood at CAA as an assistant to Jack Rapke, going with him to the production company Imagemovers, which Rapke founded with Robert Zemeckis, where she became an executive.
Her first industry credit was as a production manager on the Sparks novel adaptation of A Walk to Remember for DiNovi Pictures, the beginning of a long professional relationship with producer Denise Di Novi.
“Alison was simply the best, at everything,” Di Novi said. “A brilliant, tenacious producer. A fiercely loyal and generous friend. The most tender, loving wife and mother. I was blessed to work with her by my side for so many years; she is loved by so many and will be remembered as a shining light in this business.”
Greenspan executive produced the movie adaptation of Brashares’ beloved 2001 best-seller The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which starred America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, Blake Lively and Alexis Bledel as the four best friends. The Warner Bros. film was released in 2005 to a warm critical reception. Greenspan also exec produced the 2008 sequel, which saw the cast return.
She had a particularly prolific 2014 when three of the films she produced were released, including The Best of Me, an adaptation of the Sparks book starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan; the drama You’re Not You, starring Hilary Swank, Emmy Rossum and Josh Duhamel based on the novel by Wildgen; and the teen drama If I Stay, starring Chloë Grace Moretz and based on the novel by Forman.
Her other producing credits include Unforgettable (2017), Monte Carlo (2011), Sparks’ The Lucky One (2012) and Nights in Rodanthe (2008), Catwoman (2004) and New York Minute (2004).
Greenspan branched out into television production late in her career, exec producing the ABC legal drama For Life, loosely based on the true story of Isaac Wright Jr. The show ran for two seasons from 2020 to 2021.
Her producing partner on For Life, Doug Robinson, said, “Alison was a tenacious producer, who loved nurturing and protecting the artists she worked with. The only thing she loved more than her work was her family, her husband Jason and her beautiful son Stevie. I consider myself lucky to have had her as my friend and partner … she will be missed by all of us who were fortunate enough to have known her.”
Sony Pictures Television, which co-produced For Life, added, “Our hearts go out to Jason, Stevie and her entire family and friends. Alison was an amazing human with a magnetic personality and she will be truly missed by her entire Sony family.”
In addition to Michaels and son, Stevie, Greenspan is survived by her mother, Ann; and her sister, Melissa. In lieu of flowers, Greenspan’s family has asked that people consider a memorial gift to support the UCLA Sarcoma Program at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.
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