Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Tuesday that Tom Sherak was an “incredible advocate and a great friend to Hollywood,” who didn’t really let on how fully serious his illness was “because he always fought and won.”
Garcetti told Variety that he last talked to Sherak on Friday, in a phone conversation where they talked about his plan for addressing runaway production. Garcetti appointed Sherak as the city’s first film czar last fall.
Even though he must have been in “immense pain and suffering,” Garcetti said, Sherak was determined to keep the appointment.
“He was able to continue to move an agenda forward, and put the people and policies in place that I know that we will all benefit from it,” Garcetti said. “Right now, my heart goes out to his many, many friends and family.”
“I can’t think of anyone who was as universally respected and well liked as Tom,” Garcetti added. “He breathed new life to the city’s relationship” to Hollywood.
Sherak last month said that he had completed a plan to address runaway production, which included a strategy for lobbying Sacramento for expanding the state’s tax incentive program. He had an informal committee of industry figures to devise the plan, along with Bob Pisano as an informal adviser and Rajiv Dalal as his deputy. Both are expected to take greater roles in the film office following Sherak’s passing.
“Tom was an incredible fighter and an incredible advocate and a great friend to me and to Hollywood,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti selected Sherak as his first film czar — his official title was senior adviser and director of the Mayor’s Entertainment Industry and Production Office — after a search of several weeks. Sherak later said that when he was approached about the job, Garcetti already had signed off on the choice and he already had been vetted by staff.
When Sherak took the job, he told Variety that the public position was “like a line out of ‘Star Trek’ for me: The last frontier. I know it is not going to be easy. But most things in life are not easy.” Sherak was a supporter of Garcetti’s mayoral bid. He had known Garcetti for several years when he was president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Garcetti was a city councilman from the Hollywood area, and they worked on plans for a new Academy Museum.
At the time of his appointment, Garcetti said that even though Sherak was undergoing cancer treatment, he was “one of the toughest fighters I know and someone who does more in a few hours than most people do in a few weeks.”