Craig Zadan, prolific stage, TV & film producer, has died

Craig Zadan

Craig Zadan

Producer of movie musicals
“Chicago” and “Hairspray”
and co-producer
of NBC’s 
“The Sound of Music Live!”
dies of complications
following surgery

Craig Zadan, one of film and TV’s most prolific producers of musicals, has died at the age of 69. Zadan’s death was announced Tuesday by NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt, who called Zadan “my dear friend”:

“It is with profound sadness that I am announcing the passing of my dear friend and colleague Craig Zadan, who died of complications following shoulder replacement surgery,” said Greenblatt. “On behalf of his life partner, Elwood Hopkins, and his producing partner, Neil Meron, we are stunned that the man behind so many incredible film, theatre, and television productions — several of them joyous musicals — was taken away so suddenly.”

Zadan and Meron produced NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live!” in 2013, starting a run of live musical productions for the network that ran up to this year’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.”

Zadan also served as an executive producer on NBC’s scripted Broadway drama “Smash” and “Gypsy” starring Bette Midler for CBS, as well as several editions of the Academy Awards on ABC. 

“Craig’s distinguished career as a passionate and consummate producer is eclipsed only by his genuine love for the thousands of actors, directors, writers, musicians, designers, and technicians he worked with over the years,” added Greenblatt. “His absence will be felt in our hearts and throughout our business.”

On the big screen, Zadan’s productions included the Oscar-winning 2002 musical “Chicago” the 2007 musical version of “Hairspray” and 2011’s “Footloose” remake as well as the 1984 original.

Zadan and Meron earned six Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, 17 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, a Grammy Award, six GLAAD Awards, four NAACP Image Awards, and two Tony Awards.

Hollywood figures and celebrities took to Twitter to honor the much loved, prolific producer.

Send your film news to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton,