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Mark Tarlov, a producer on the John Waters-directed films Pecker, Serial Mom and Cecil B. Demented, died July 31 at his home in Manhattan after a battle with cancer, his family announced. He was 69.
Tarlov also worked with British novelist William Boyd to transform the 1977 Mario Vargas Llosa book Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter into the offbeat Tune in Tomorrow (1990), directed by Jon Amiel and starring Keanu Reeves, Peter Falk, Barbara Hershey, Patricia Clarkson and John Larroquette.
Tune in Tomorrow was the closing-night selection at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the audience and critics awards at the Deauville Film Festival.
The collaboration with Boyd grew into a lifelong friendship and yielded a movie based on Boyd’s 1981 novel, A Good Man in Africa (1994), starring Colin Friels, Sean Connery, John Lithgow, Diana Rigg and Louis Gossett Jr.
“We worked on many film projects over the years, but it was our friendship that became the most abiding factor of our collaboration,” Boyd said in a statement. “His many enthusiasms were tackled with the same all-consuming verve as he approached whatever job he was doing at the time. He was an intellectual — very clever and great, amusing, highly stimulating company — with a roving, deeply curious mind.”
Tarlov also directed two features: the romantic comedy Simply Irresistible (1999), starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean Patrick Flanery and Patricia Clarkson — that was written by his wife and frequent collaborator, Judith Roberts — and the rock musical Temptation (2004), starring Zoe Saldana.
Born in 1952 in Norwalk, Connecticut, Tarlov served as Chief Justice Warren Burger’s speechwriter while still in college. He became a prosecutor in Washington and then a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice following his graduation from Columbia Law School.
He started out in Hollywood in business affairs at Warner Bros. in 1979, then produced his first feature, John Carpenter’s Christine (1983), based on the Stephen King novel published that year. He then produced Sidney Lumet’s Power (1986), starring Richard Gere, Gene Hackman and Julie Christie.
He reteamed with Amiel to produce Copycat (1995), starring Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver.
With longtime producing partner John Fiedler, Tarlov guided the Waters films Pecker (1998), starring Christina Ricci; Serial Mom (1994), featuring Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston; and Cecil B. Demented (2000), starring Melanie Griffith and Stephen Dorff.
In 2006, he started Evening Land Vineyards, making wines mainly in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Eight years later, he launched another wine label, Chapter 24, assembling an international team from Burgundy to Chile.
In addition to his wife — they were together for nearly 40 years — survivors include his daughters, Jessica Tarlov, a vice president at Bustle Digital Group and a liberal political contributor at Fox News, and Molly Tarlov, an actress (Awkward.); and grandson Harry.
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