Steve Golin, Oscar-Winning 'Spotlight' Producer and Founder of Anonymous Content, Dies at 64
He launched Propaganda Films in the 1980s on the way to guiding such features as 'The Game,' 'Wild at Heart' and 'The Revenant.'
Steve Golin, the Oscar-winning producer behind Spotlight and the founder of management powerhouse Anonymous Content, died Sunday night in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer, his publicists announced. He was 64.
As one of the industry's most decorated producers, the genial Golin took home two top trophies at the Golden Globes in 2016: for best dramatic film (Alejandro G. Inarritu's The Revenant) and best TV drama (Mr. Robot). In a sign of how prolific he was, The Revenant beat out his eventual Oscar winner Spotlight that year.
The avid pop art collector (his office contained vintage copies of Interview magazine with covers photographed by Andy Warhol) also was Oscar-nominated for best picture for Inarritu's Babel (2006) and The Revenant. Golin won the Palme d'Or for David Lynch's Wild at Heart (1990) and produced other quirkily iconic films like Being John Malkovich (1999), directed by Spike Jonze, and Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).
He also produced such crowd-pleasers as the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore comedy 50 First Dates (2004).
Golin was born on March 6, 1955. The son of a biochemist, he met President John F. Kennedy during a second-grade trip to Washington.
After graduating from Ramapo High School in suburban Rockland County, New York, Golin honed his aesthetic while studying photography at NYU in the 1970s, then headed west to attend AFI (class of 1981). He and fellow AFI alum Joni Sighvatsson then produced the straight-to-video flicks Hard Rock Zombies and American Drive-In, both released in 1985.
A year later, Golin and Sighvatsson launched Propaganda Films, which became the world's largest production company for music videos and commercials at the height of MTV's golden era. With a keen eye for talent, Golin was credited with launching the careers of Jonze, David Fincher, Michael Bay, Antoine Fuqua and Simon West.
Golin and Sighvatsson sold 49 percent of the company to backer PolyGram in 1989 and their remaining 51 percent three years later. After producing such films as Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady (1996) and Fincher's The Game (1997), Golin left the company in 1999 after PolyGram was acquired by Seagram, freeing him up to create Anonymous Content that year.
With the music industry retracting but the home video market booming, Anonymous became the place for edgy auteurs like Steven Soderbergh and later Cary Fukunaga to make forays into major studio films. The management firm also built an enviable roster of in-demand actors and actresses; today, the Culver City-based company boasts a staff of some 70 employees and a client list that includes Emma Stone, Samuel L. Jackson and Alfonso Cuaron.
Anonymous also became a pioneer in packaging such TV hits as HBO's Emmy-winning drama series True Detective, USA Network's Mr. Robot and George Clooney's Catch-22 for Hulu. Other Anonymous shows that Golin executive produced included Netflix's 13 Reasons Why and TNT's The Alienist.
TV became an extremely lucrative side of Anonymous' business, and its philosophy was copied by other Hollywood management companies. "We're just trying to capitalize and playing to what our strengths are," Golin told The Hollywood Reporter in 2013. "And right now it's fortunate, because with the list of people that we represent and the taste and the experience that we have, it makes sense to go into this."
In a statement, Golin's partners at Anonymous Content said they were "devastated" by his death.
"He was a trailblazer in the industry, a devoted colleague, a remarkable leader and a truly kind man," they said. "He was a rare individual who encompassed intense creativity with a keen business mind. Above all, Steve showed us the power of kindness and generosity. His compassion was unparalleled. He led by example and inspired each and every one of us to be better. In his life and in his work, Steve created a family — he meant the world to many of us and will leave a lasting impression on our lives. Together, we will continue to build upon the immense legacy Steve has left us."
Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and president of Emerson Collective and a board member at Anonymous Content, added: "I was proud to call Steve a friend and a partner. I admired him greatly. His talent and kindness inspired me, and everyone around him."
Golin survived a bout with a rare form of bone cancer (he lost his left shoulder blade as a result) more than a decade ago. Although he had two high-profile films screening at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival — Boy Erased and Outlaw King — as well as client Cuaron kicking off the awards season with a spectacular reception for Roma, Golin made only a brief appearance at the event, fueling talk that he was not doing well.
Survivors include his son, Ari, and daughter, Anna.
In 2016, Golin told THR that he was happiest when he was at sea, even if the pursuit filled him with some regret.
"A little more than a year ago, I bought a small sailboat, a sleek little French boat," he said. "Every single thing they say about boats is true. It's a nightmare. It's literally just ripping money up. I don't have a lot of extravagances, but that's one. I wanted a sailboat my whole life. I really enjoy it while I'm on it, but the thing that's the most upsetting is when I add up how much it costs every time I use it. It's just the dumbest thing you can do."