Assistant director Elena Santaballa dies

She served on DGA National Board

Assistant director Elena Santaballa died Oct. 7 in Santa Monica of cancer. She was 44.

Santaballa, a DGA board member, worked on TV series including “Murder, She Wrote,” “Picket Fences” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.” She most recently worked on CBS’ “The New Adventures of Old Christine” as second a.d.

In an interview with the DGA Quarterly, Santaballa said her job was mostly about “telling adults to be quiet.” She was equally at home shushing rookie extras and CBS prexy-CEO Leslie Moonves.

“Nudging actors to and from the set is another one of my specialties,” Santaballa said in the Winter 2007 issue of DGA Quarterly. “In fact, if (first a.d.) Randy Suhr and I hadn’t figured out how to disconnect the cable that ran to Ray Romano’s Internet connection in his room, I wonder if we could have kept ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ on the air.”

Santaballa won an Emmy for her work on the pilot of Aaron Sorkin’s Alphabet sitcom “Sports Night.”

As a DGA trainee, Santaballa worked on features “The Coneheads,” “North” and “Hot Shots! Part Deux!” She joined the guild in 1993 and was in the middle of her third term as a second alternate board member.

Santaballa served four terms on the National Board, five on the AD/UPM Council, and she participated in guild negotiations in 2004 and 2007-08. DGA prexy Taylor Hackford called her a “vital member and leader” of the guild since joining 17 years ago. “We will always remember Elena for her lively spirit, her thoughtful wise ways, and her tremendous contributions to the guild,” he said.

Survivors include her husband, Mark L. Marcum, head of Chaos Digital; a son and a daughter; her parents; and two sisters.

Donations may be made to Play Mountain Place, 6063 Hargis St. Los Angeles, CA 90034-2613.

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