Emmet G. Lavery Jr., television executive and producer and the son of an eminent playwright and screenwriter, died of natural causes in Encino, Calif., on February 16. He was 86.
Tapped by former NBC president Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, Lavery joined the maverick Subscription Television (STV) as vice president and resident counsel; the odds of success for pay TV were considered high, and there were proposals for a constitutional amendment barring subscription TV. STV’s premiere broadcast on July 17, 1963, marked the first time any baseball had been sent by closed circuit into a residence of any kind.
In 1965, Lavery was named director of business affairs at 20th Century Fox Television, moving to Paramount Television as VP of business affairs in February 1967.
Forming Emmet G. Lavery Jr. Productions in 1975, Lavery produced several successful made-for-television movies including “Delancey Street,” “The Ghost of Flight 401,” “Act of Violence” and 1979’s “Nero Wolfe,” as well as the “Serpico” television series.
Lavery joined DLT Entertainment as VP of business affairs in 1981 and remained there until his retirement in 2010.
Lavery was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. His father was a New York lawyer and newspaperman who became one of the most illustrious playwrights and screenwriters of his day. The elder Lavery wrote such Broadway hits as “The Magnificent Yankee,” which he adapted for the 1950 film version, and “The First Legion” as well as a number of feature films. He was president of the Screen Writers Guild from 1945-47.
Lavery attended Williston Academy in Easthampton, Mass., served in the Army in 1945-46, and graduated from UCLA in 1950. He earned his law degree from UCLA Law School in 1953 and was admitted to the California bar in 1954. He specialized in entertainment law as a partner in the firm of Fink, Levinthal and Lavery from 1954 to 1960, then operated his own law office until 1963.
Lavery is survived by a daughter, a son and his sister.