Emmy-winning producer/director Gil Cates died Monday evening at the age of 77.
In addition to his numerous directing credits, Cates was founding Dean of the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television, and founder and producing director at the Geffen Playhouse. Cates is perhaps best known for producing the Academy Awards 14 times between 1990 and 2008, more than any other individual. He was responsible for first bringing hosts Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart to Oscar’s stage.
He served three consecutive terms as a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science‘s directors branch, from 1984 to 1993. He returned to the board for another term beginning in 2002, and held the post of vice president from 2003 to 2005.
“Gil was our colleague, our friend and a former governor of the Academy,” said Academy president Tom Sherak. “He was a consummate professional who gave the Academy and the world some of the most memorable moments in Oscar history. His passing is a tremendous loss to the entertainment industry, and our thoughts go out to his family.”
Cates was also very active in the Directors Guild of America where he was elected to the national board in 1975 and served as president from 1983-1987 and as secretary-treasurer from 1997 until now. He chaired the negotiations committee for the Guild’s 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2011 contract negotiations and served on the Western Directors Council for more than 20 years. For his decades of extraordinary service to the Guild, he was recognized with the Robert B. Aldrich Award in 1989, the DGA Honorary Life Member Award in 1991 and the President’s Award in 2005.
“There are few people in the history of the Guild who have matched Gil’s vision and influence on the organization and our industry,” said DGA president Taylor Hackford. “There was no greater champion of the creative and economic rights of directors and their teams and no truer friend to the membership, board and staff of the DGA. For more than 50 years, Gil has served the Guild – as president, as secretary-treasurer, as negotiations chair. It’s impossible to think of a single issue debated, program launched or battle fought on behalf of us all that didn’t have his special touch in its crafting.”