Promoter behind 'Star Wars' tie-ins
Steve Werner, an entrepreneur, promoter, producer and director best known for his promotions for “Star Wars,” died May 1 in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 65.Werner, who attended Princeton and graduated from Miami U., started his career in the poster business in the 1960s and created one of the most prolific poster sales companies in North America. He parlayed that business into marketing, promotions and licensing deals for the major studios. Werner created one of the first premium licensing deals in Hollywood when he packaged “Star Wars” material with Wonder Bread. Werner turned that deal into a licensing partnership with Fox and Lucasfilm to redevelop movie licensing. He later designed the Campus Movie Network, which brought comedy shows to college campuses under the banner Komedy U while promoting movies. During the mid-’90s, comics including Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Mohr, Adam Ferrara, David Steinberg, Mark Schiff and Bill Engvall appeared on Werner’s syndicated “Comedy: Coast to Coast” show, a series of more than 50 specials of standup, sketch and interviews dedicated to American holidays and current events. Werner also produced the 1983 television series “Rubik, the Amazing Cube.” He later added college publication Hyena magazine to his movie promotional program.