When “Pretty Woman” executive producer Laura Ziskin died in June 2011 from breast cancer, Alison Bossert helped her stand up to cancer one last time.
During Ziskin’s memorial service, mourners could donate to the organization that Ziskin co-founded with Katie Couric and others in 2008 to raise funding for cancer research. Standing out of the spotlight, making sure Ziskin’s celebration of life ran smoothly, stood Bossert.
At the time, Bossert was head of special events at Sony Pictures Entertainment. A crucial part of her 17-year career there was planning memorial services for entertainment industry figures — Heath Ledger, for example. She’s now transferring those skills to a new venture: Final Bow Prods., which specializes in helping people, particularly those well known in Hollywood,to prepare their own service prior to death as well as assisting families in planning services for loved ones and putting together the actual celebration.
Final Bow ceremonies span the intimate to the extravagant. Bossert said she ensures that the services are memorable and respectful. At Ledger’s memorial, one of her primary concerns was security — particularly, keeping paparazzi out.
Bossert is surprised that often, people want a memento by which to remember the service. For one man who loved wearing baseball hats, it was a cap embroidered with his signature. For Ziskin, it was a wish to continue the fight against cancer. “That was really near and dear to her heart,” Bossert said.
Bossert said her primary function is pre-planning. She sits down with clients and outlines everything from the kind of food that will be served to how an individual wants to be enshrined. The company creates a document separate from a will that can direct the family concerning what arrangements need to be made.
“It can be a little heavy, but then you feel a sense of relief afterward,” she said.