Award winning motion picture and television producer Paul Pompian, best known for films including “The Watcher,” “Swimming Upstream,” “Waste Land,” Truman Capote’s “Children on Their Birthdays,” “Resurrection,” “The Stepford Children,” “Time Served,” “Guests of the Emperor,” “The Preppie Murder,” “Fatal Deception: The Marina Oswald Story,” “Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story” and “Joshua,” died of leukemia on January 1 at the City of Hope in Duarte, Calif. He was 72.
Pompian produced more than 50 film and TV productions, working first with Roger Corman’s New World Pictures beginning in 1971, and then with MGM, Universal Pictures, Lionsgate, AEG, and his own production company.
At the time of his death, Pompian had several projects in various stages of development, including “Operation Family Secrets” based on his Random House book co-authored by Keith and Kent Zimmerman. He was also in pre-production on “Short Cut Man” written by Preston Sturges Jr. and to be directed by Neil Tardio, and “Odd Man Out,” based on the New York Times bestselling book by Matt McCarthy. He was also developing projects with comedian Tom Dreesen and actor William Shatner.
His most recent film, “Waste Land,” written and directed by Rebekah Chaney and starring Chaney and Ryan O’Neal, was the winner of the 2007 Boston Film Festival for best actress and director. In 2005 Pompian produced “Swimming Upstream,” starring Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis, which was nominated for five Australian Academy Awards and released to critical acclaim by MGM/UA.
From September 2000 until July 2004 Pompian was executive vice president of Philip Anschutz’s AEG/Crusader Bristol Bay Entertainment.
In 2001 Mr. Pompian produced “Joshua,” based on the bestselling novel and starring Tony Goldwyn, F. Murray Abraham and Giancarlo Gianinni and served as executive producer on “Children on Their Birthdays,” based on the Truman Capote short story. Artisan/Lionsgate released both films. In 1999, Pompian produced the Universal Pictures release “The Watcher,” starring Keanu Reeves, James Spader and Marisa Tomei.
Pompian had extensive experience with co-productions throughout the world, including Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, the U.K.. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Africa and the Middle East. He was an early proponent for filming in tax incentive locales and produced throughout North America, Latin and Central America and Asia.
Born in Chicago, Pompian graduated from Loyola U. in Chicago and the New College School of Law in San Francisco. After serving in the U.S. Army (378th Chemical Combat Support) in Berlin, Germany and 5th U.S. Army Headquarters, Pompian returned to Chicago to work for the late Mayor Richard J. Daley at the Chicago Committee on Criminal Justice. Later, he wrote, produced and directed documentaries, commercials and industrial films in Chicago. In 1971 Pompian moved to Los Angeles and worked with Roger Corman at New World Pictures.
He was a member of the Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Television Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Screen Actors Guild. He had been a guest lecturer and visiting instructor at Loyola U., U. of Alberta Film and Television Institute, USC School of Cinema, Yale U. School of Drama and numerous filmmaker conferences and festivals.
Pompian received awards including the Christopher (for achieved artistic excellence in films affirming the highest values of the human spirit), the Venice Palm and an Emmy.
He is survived by his wife of 15 years, Polly. A public memorial honoring Pompian’s life and career will be held in the near future in Los Angeles. Donations may be made to the City of Hope.