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Don Ohlmeyer, the television producer and a longtime NBC executive who guided the network’s West Coast division during its 1990s primetime heyday, died Sunday. He was 72.
Ohlmeyer’s death was announced by Al Michaels, his friend and former colleague, on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. His family said he died of cancer in Indian Wells, Calif.
Michaels said: “With great sadness, I have to report on the death of a great pal, a man who was one of a kind, Don Ohlmeyer. Don [was] the original producer of Monday Night Football when he was in his 20s. He made NBC an entertainment powerhouse in the ‘80s and ‘90s, a must-see during that particular time. He came back and produced Monday Night Football in 2000. … Our thoughts and prayers to [his wife] L.J. and Don’s four boys. He was truly special and one of a kind.”
A protege of broadcasting legend Roone Arledge, Ohlmeyer began his television career at ABC and was among the first producers on Monday Night Football, and he also worked on the network’s Olympic coverage. In 1977, he moved to NBC Sports and executive produced NFL and MLB games.
He left NBC in 1982 to start his own production company, Ohlmeyer Communications, which focused on made-for-television movies and sports specials like golf’s Skins Game.
Ohlmeyer was rehired by NBC in 1993, and his second run at the network cemented his legacy as he helped it to first place in primetime with a run of iconic shows including Will & Grace, Friends, Frasier, ER and Seinfeld.
Ohlmeyer’s second tenure at NBC was also caught up in a mild controversy over the firing of Norm Macdonald from Saturday Night Live in 1998, reportedly for the comedian’s off-color jokes about O.J. Simpson. Ohlmeyer and Simpson were close friends.
Outside of television, Ohlmeyer served as a professor of television communications at Pepperdine University in Malibu. He also acted as the ombudsman for ESPN from 2009-11.
Ohlmeyer is survived by his wife, Linda Jonsson, also known as L.J.; his sons Drew, Chris, Todd and Kemper; and nine grandchildren.
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