Oscars Producer Craig Zadan Dies at 69

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Craig Zadan

The producer, who was behind the best picture winner 'Chicago' and NBC's 'Smash,' died of complications following shoulder replacement surgery.

Craig Zadan, producer of the Oscars and the Oscar-winning film Chicago, has died. He was 69. 

“It is with profound sadness that I am announcing the passing of my dear friend and colleague Craig Zadan, who died of complications following shoulder replacement surgery," NBC's Bob Greenblatt said Tuesday in a statement. "On behalf of his life partner, Elwood Hopkins, and his producing partner, Neil Meron, we are stunned that the man behind so many incredible film, theatre, and television productions — several of them joyous musicals — was taken away so suddenly. Craig’s distinguished career as a passionate and consummate producer is eclipsed only by his genuine love for the thousands of actors, directors, writers, musicians, designers, and technicians he worked with over the years. His absence will be felt in our hearts and throughout our business.”

Zadan produced movies, television projects and Broadway musicals, including Chicago, NBC's musical drama Smash and this year's Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.

Alongside partner Meron, Zadan oversaw the Oscar broadcast from 2013-15. He also produced a series of live musicals for NBC, including The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz and Hairspray. The duo were working on productions of Hair and Bye Bye Birdie, starring Jennifer Lopez, for NBC slated for next year. 

In theater, Zadan and Meron produced several revivals, including Broadway's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Promises, Promises. 

Zadan also wrote the definitive Stephen Sondheim biography, Sondheim & Co., in 1974.

Zadan and Meron’s productions have earned six Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, 17 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, a Grammy, six GLAAD Awards, four NAACP Image Awards and two Tonys.

On Wednesday, Sony Pictures Television said in a statement, “We are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our friend Craig Zadan. His talents were unparalleled and not only was he a wonderful producing partner but part of the Sony Pictures Television family for over 25 years. Craig and Neil have produced television films for SPT, from the acclaimed Serving in Silence, this year’s Emmy nominated Flint, among others such as A Raisin in the Sun, The Beach Boys, Brian’s Song, and the television series Drop Dead Diva. Craig was a fiercely passionate producer who brought wonderful talent to his projects such as Glenn Close, Judy Davis, Sean Combs, Queen Latifah, Sean Hayes just to name a few. He will be greatly missed.”

Meron later posted a tribute to his former partner on Twitter. "Thanks 2 everyone for the overwhelming show of #love and #respect for my #brilliant partner & friend @craigzadan Feeling sadness but he will guide my new path Sharing pic from early days when Craig directed theater legend #JoePapp A sponge between 2 giants & Craig let me in #RIP," he wrote, along with the photo.