It has not been an easy week, saying goodbye to two old friends, Hollywood producer Jim Jacks and studio executive Tom Sherak, who shared something in common; they were both good guys. They were generous and giving to their friends; they were adored by the people who worked for them. At the Academy Board of Governors meeting on Monday night, the governors gave former AMPAS president Sherak a moment of silence, and talked about how much he had done to help shepherd the organization through a challenging time.
Wednesday brought a Catholic Mass in North Hollywood, followed by a heartfelt celebration of the life of Jim Jacks at West Hollywood restaurant Craig’s, where he used to have dinner once a week. Along with his family, the friends who shared Jacks stories included Circle Releasing’s Ted Pedas (who backed three Coen brothers movies, “Raising Arizona, ” “Miller’s Crossing” and “Barton Fink,” produced by Jacks), his one-time Universal boss Tom Pollock, and Sean Daniel, Jacks’ partner of 12 years at Alphaville Productions (“The Mummy” series, “Tombstone,” “The Gift”). Ex-Paramount chief Sherry Lansing and Richard Linklater (“Dazed and Confused”) sent moving tributes; other attendees were producers Gale Anne Hurd, Frank Marshall, Neil Canton, Cotty Chubb, Michelle Manning, Sam Kitt, Bobby Rock, Stuart Pollok and Marisa Kagan, as well as Anne Busby, Allison Jackson, Miramax’s Zanne Devine, screenwriters Larry Karazewski & Scott Alexander, the director and star of “A Simple Plan,” Sam Raimi and Bill Paxton, and Kevin Smith (“Mallrats”), who not surprisingly brought down the house with a brilliant eulogy.
The next day was an hour-long Woodland Hills service at Temple Aliyah packed with 1000 mourners (including Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, governor Gale Anne Hurd, former AMPAS exec Ric Robertson, Jim Berkus of UTA, studio heads Alan Horn, Jim Gianopulos, Brad Grey, and Amy Pascal, ex-studio chiefs Joe Roth–who partnered with Sherak at Revolution–Dick Cook, Terry Semel, Tom Rothman and Barry Meyer) who overflowed the parking lot, followed by a burial at Mount Sinai Memorial Park (attended by Paul Mazursky, James Cameron, Brett Ratner and Henry Winkler) and a reception at the Sherak family home in Calabasas.
Sherak’s widow Madeleine delivered a moving 46-year romantic timeline starting with a love-at-first sight blind date in 1967 and a whirlwind pre-military-deployment marriage–she was 18, he was 22–through her attempts to understand what her husband, who had fought prostate cancer for 12 years, was feeling as his body failed in the last five days of his life. She couldn’t bear to say good-bye, she told him. “I’m happy,” he insisted, as she prepared to let him go. In his last moments he received a kiss from one of his grandchildren. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Both men will be sorely missed.