Producer Paul Pompian Dies at 72

Paul Pompian Headshot - P 2014
Courtesy John Blanchette

Paul Pompian Headshot - P 2014

He did “Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story, “Swimming Upstream” and “The Watcher” and worked for Philip Anschutz as a production executive.

Producer Paul Pompian, whose credits include Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story and Swimming Upstream, died Jan. 1 after a long battle with leukemia at City of Hope hospital in Duarte, Calif. He was 72.

Pompian produced more than 50 films and television productions during his career, working first with Roger Corman’s New World Pictures beginning in 1971 and then with MGM, Universal, Lionsgate, AEG and his own production company.

The producer’s other credits include The Watcher (1999), starring Keanu Reeves, James Spader and Marisa Tomei; Joshua (2002), based on the best-selling novel by Joseph Girzone and starring Tony Goldwyn, F. Murray Abraham and Giancarlo Giannini; and Children on Their Birthdays (2002), based on a Truman Capote short story.

His most recent film, the 21-minute Waste Land (2007), written and directed by Rebekah Chaney and starring Chaney and Ryan O’Neal, won prizes at film festivals in Boston, Long Beach, N.Y., and Salento, Italy.

According to John Blanchette of the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors, Pompian, at the time of his death, had several projects in various stages of development, including Operation Family Secrets, based on the 2011 book he wrote with Keith and Kent Zimmerman. He was in preproduction on Short Cut Man, written by Preston Sturges Jr. and to be directed by Neil Tardio, and Odd Man Out, from the baseball book by Matt McCarthy. And he was developing projects with stand-up comedian Tom Dreesen and actor William Shatner.

From 2000 to 2004, the Chicago native served as executive vp of Philip Anschutz’s Crusader Entertainment/Bristol Bay Entertainment at AEG.

Swimming Upstream (2003), starring Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis, was nominated for five Australian Academy Awards. Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story, a 1981 NBC telefilm, starred Jamie Lee Curtis as the model-actress who was murdered by her husband-manager in 1980.

A graduate of Loyola University in Chicago and the New College School of Law in San Francisco, Pompian served in the U.S. Army, then worked for Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley. He wrote, produced and directed documentaries, commercials and industrial films in Chicago before heading to Los Angeles.

Pompian, who played semi-pro baseball, was a member of the DGA, PGA, SAG, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Survivors include his wife of 15 years, Polly. A public memorial honoring his life and career will be held in Los Angeles at a date to be determined. Donations in his memory can be made to City of Hope.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4