R.I.P. Steve Brennan: A great reporter, a great storyteller, a great friend

Sad, sad news arrived this evening. Steve Brennan, longtime reporter and editor for The Hollywood Reporter, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center today at 57 after a yearlong struggle with cancer. He was my friend, and I will miss him so much. (Click here for THR’s obituary.)

Steve was an incredibly colorful character, a sharp wit, a fantastic and accomplished writer. He realized a longtime dream in 2007 with the release of his book, “Emeralds in Tinseltown: The Irish in Hollywood.”

Steve worked for THR, in his last years as international editor, for two decades. He started out as freelancer (he liked to tell of how he managed to sell stories on every permutation of the Irish entertainment biz) and then after he moved to L.A., he charmed his way into a full-time gig covering syndication and international TV.

He was a great reporter and an even better raconteur. He added to the joviality of many a NATPE convention, that’s for sure. (Let’s just say there are some waiters at famed New Orleans establishments who will never forget him.)

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  1. This comment is well overdue but I only fell across this blog notice.
    As a fellow Dubliner and THR buddy I knew Steve from both the Irish and American POV. I am not going to replicate what all his colleagues and friends have said above as they have said it better than I could have ever done.
    He was, of course, all that and much more. He loved telling a good story so that’s what I am going to do. This is a story that he told me about his life one evening over a cool beer and whiskey.
    While covering the conflicts in Northern Ireland, he saved a 15 year boy from getting knee capped (shot in the knee cap) from a member of the IRA. As he grabbed the boy and pushed him into a waiting car he took the bullet in his arm as they drove away to safety.
    His stories no matter how short or long captivated the listener always. He was heralded at all the Hollywood studios where he earned their big respect. He will always have mine.
    He will go down in history as one of the most memorable journalist icons of The Hollywood Reporter. RIP Steve we love you!

  2. Susan hornik says:

    Thank you Cynthia. This was a lovely read…my heart remains very heavy today…

  3. Kimberly Nordyke says:

    Cynthia, this is a beautiful tribute to a great reporter and just all-around decent human being. My heart goes out to Bernadette.

  4. Anita Busch says:

    I worked alongside for Steve for many years at The Hollywood Reporter and he was a truly good soul. Before coming to Hollywood, he covered the conflict in Northern Ireland and saw the kind of death that no man should ever have to see.
    When I first started reporting on Hollywood in the old Reporter building on Sunset, he turned to me one day and said in a hushed tone, “Hey, Anita … we don’t have a banner (story) … you wanna help me come up with one?” I shrugged, said sure and we sat down and figured out a TV syndication/marketing story about ad sales and within an hour, we had the banner story. We did that a handful of times … just pulled a story out of our … anyway, he also taught me a true Irish saying: He would say, “it’s so hot, it’s not even true.” Or “I’m so hungry, it’s not even true.” It’s not even true … and now this and it doesn’t seem true, but it is.
    Steve Brennan was a fantastic person, a gentleman and full of mischief in a very good way.
    As the Irish do, this is not a time of mourning but a time to celebrate Steve’s life … Bernadette, we loved him so.

  5. Karl Gibson says:

    A very nice remembrance Cynthia. Steve Brennan, one of the last old-school,booming,baritone-voiced reporters who knew the business and the town in his sleep. He could be a rascal and his umbrage could be a show in itself when he was in the mood. I remember the times he had me in his office at 8 p.m. on a Friday might to taste a new scotch he was planning to take home for the weekend or the many off the record laughs we had doing our various impersonations of various rascals, all in fun. When the Robert Blake case broke, it was after-hours and he was with Howard in the bureau. He was on it like an ace already with a list to call.
    He told the truth and could take it as well he gave it. He encouraged and championed my trajectory from gatekeeper to a diverse pro over the course of seven years and any disagreements were usually squashed in a day. He was a part of the THR family that survives new jobs and new directions. He knew everyone and he will be missed. I’ll miss drinks at AFM after a 12-hour day with him and his stories of an era we can now only imagine. My best to Bernadette Brennan, his family, friends and peers.

  6. Howard Burns says:

    While the news is not surprising it is nonetheless stunning. He was my friend, one of the best I had — at THR and in life. He was the go-to guy when there was a breaking story. He was the best storyteller I ever knew, whether in a column inch or over a pint at Bergin’s. When I last saw him in February we laughed and laughed about old times. I had hoped it would not be the last time I would see him. It was. My heart goes out to his wife Bernadette, a wonderful lady and the best wife.
    One last thing: When I was let go at THR Steve was the first to call me to see how I was doing. He would call often, even as late as 1 a.m. knowing he’s one of the very few people in the world (family included) I’d allow to call that late. If Steve wanted to talk it was because he had something heartfelt to say. He was that kind of fellow. It was truly an pleasure to have worked with him. It was an honor to have been his friend.

  7. Dan Evans says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about this. I only worked with him briefly at THR,but he made an indelible impression.

  8. Erik Pedersen says:

    Ack — and he would have flogged me for mistyping his name im that last post…

  9. Erik Pedersen says:

    Awful news, Cynthia, but thanks for helping to capture the essence of the man — and the newsman. I’ll always cherish the times I sat at my desk as he regaled me in one tale that inevitably would lead to another and then to, “Ah, I know you’re on deadline, mate … but just one other thing.” Like you said, I could listen to Brennan for hours. And he never needed much prodding. Our little world — and the larger one — has lost a kind and gentle soul I’m proud to have known, worked with and called friend for 13 years. We won’t see his like again. Thanks again for your eloquent piece; it was comforting at a terribly sad time. As Brennen would say, “Cheers.”

  10. Shali Dore says:

    Cynthia, thanks for sharing. I didn’t know him except by reputation. He seems like a great guy.

  11. Felicia Winningham says:

    This is the most sadest news I’ have heard this morning. My heart goes deeply out for his beautiful wife Bernadette. He will be so greatly missed by all and it was an absolute pleasure to work with him.
    My fondest memories of Steve was having conversations about Ireland and how good the beer was over there. Cheers to you Steve and RIP.

  12. Brian Lowry says:

    This is very sad news indeed. I, too, remember a few boozy moments with Steve back when NATPE was still NATPE, and everything flowed a little easier. I also committed myself to perfecting an impersonation of him — which was a helluva lot of fun, given his accent — and occasionally used to call publicists and start chewing them out in Steve’s voice: “My editors are up my arse over Variety having that story….” I could usually fool them for a minute or two before saying who it really was.
    The idea of friendly competitors is sometimes lost today, but Steve was exactly that.

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