Jim Paratore: 1953-2012
The May 29 death of TV executive Jim Paratore at age 58 while on a cycling vacation in France marks the passing of an unusual Hollywood player. Paratore was a rare success both on the creative and business sides of Hollywood, excelling as a skilled hands-on producer and a savvy executive at Warner Bros. Television. After starting in local TV, Paratore served as president of Telepictures from 1992 to 2006, adding the title of vp distribution at WBTV from 2002 until 2006. When he jumped to Warner Bros.' Telepictures division, he turned the failing syndicated series Celebrity Justice into a new kind of web/TV hybrid called TMZ. "He was a game-changer his whole career," says Harvey Levin, who launched TMZ with Paratore online in 2005 and in TV form in 2007. "To come up with the idea to get into the digital business when we did, and to sell it to Warner Bros., was no small feat." Paratore is credited with launching numerous mega-profitable programs, including the syndicated Rosie O'Donnell Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, both of which were questioned as having limited appeal before they became huge hits. "He gave me a chance when no one else would," tweeted DeGeneres when word of Paratore's heart attack spread. "I love you, Jim."