L.A. Film Czar, Anti-Piracy Spokesman Tom Sherak Dies

February 2, 2014 · Posted in Latest News 

By Chris Tribbey

Less than two months before passing away at the age of 68, film producer Tom Sherak told a gathering at the Content Delivery & Security Association’s (CDSA) Content Protection Summit that as “film czar” for the city of Los Angeles, he would take on runaway production costs for films and TV shows made there.

But he also had his eye on another problem facing the industry.

“I actually see piracy as a much bigger issue,” said Sherak at the Dec. 12 event. “The things we are doing trying to protect [content] are expensive and have to be done, but piracy has become ingrained in the younger generation. [They believe] that content is not owned. It’s theirs.”

Sherak died Jan. 28 in Calabasas, Calif., after a prolonged battle with cancer. A two-term president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, movie executives far and wide offered their condolences to Sherak’s family, and noted his commitment to the industry, even during his final months. In September, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti had appointed Tom Sherak as the director of the Mayor’s Entertainment Industry and Production Office.

“The film industry has lost one of its greatest advocates this evening with the passing of Tom Sherak,” said Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. “Tom was a true Hollywood veteran, having started his career at Paramount Pictures in 1970 and heading the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He dedicated his life to the movies, helping to share some of our greatest stories with the world.

“Tom’s loss will be felt by the entire entertainment industry, and I send my thoughts and prayers to his family at this difficult time.”

Sherak, who also spent 17 years at 20th Century Fox, said during his CDSA keynote that studios and vendors should be working more closely with their technology departments, because even with watermarking and other security measures, it only takes one mistake to result in the loss of control of content.

“Once it’s out there, it’s gone,” he said. “The Internet is so wonderful, and so big. And it’s creating whole new ways to [facilitate] stealing.”

“It hurts people, it hurts jobs,” Sherak said. “You can’t give stuff away. You have to have stronger laws here. … You have to be tough about it. It’s hard to be tough about it. And here’s the problem: It’s not going to stop. I don’t know if we can educate them enough that it’s stealing.”

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