Joan Liepman, Story Editor and Independent Producer, Dies at 65

Joan Liepman -S 2015
Courtesy of Melissa Bemel

She was Ed Limato’s "secret weapon" at William Morris and ICM and a producer at Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions.

Joan Liepman, a behind-the-scenes story editor and analyst who was known as agent Ed Limato’s "secret weapon" at William Morris and ICM, has died. She was 65.

Liepman, who later became an independent producer for Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions, died Oct. 16 at her home in Los Angeles after a three-year battle with lung cancer, her friend, Melissa Bemel, said.

Liepman started in the story department at William Morris in 1979, where she attracted the attention of Limato. For years, she was the go-to-person for clients that included Gibson, Denzel Washington, Richard Gere, Kevin Costner, Anthony Hopkins, Jodi Foster and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Her assessment of scripts and story ideas helped shape the success of such movies as the Gibson films Lethal Weapon (1987) and Oscar best picture Braveheart (1995).

She stuck with Limato, moving from WMA to ICM and back again, eventually landing an exclusive deal with Icon, the production company founded by Gibson and Bruce Davey.

Liepman graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UC Berkeley, earned a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Italy and then returned to Berkeley to work as a lighting designer at the Berkeley Repertory Theater.

She lived briefly in New York, where she designed the lights for Richard Maltby and David Shire’s musical revue Starting Here, Starting Now, among other productions.

Survivors include her siblings Peter, Bob and Lise and nephews Robin and Nick. The family requests that donations be made to House Clinic Foundation, 2100 W. 3rd St., Suite 111, Los Angeles CA 90057. Tax ID #462883905

A memorial celebration of her life is planned for this year.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4