Gary Gygax Estate Partners With ‘Transformers’ Producer Tom DeSanto (EXCLUSIVE)

Tom DeSanto
Madison McGaw/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

“Transformers” producer Tom DeSanto has struck a deal with the estate of Gary Gygax — co-creator of “Dungeons & Dragons” — to oversee the Gygax catalog of published and unpublished works.

The announcement was made on Wednesday, which would have been Gygax’s 78th birthday. His widow Gail Gygax reached a deal for DeSanto to become the “guardian of the library.”

DeSanto told Variety that he’s already discovered several potential “universe” projects among the unpublished works and expects to find a home for at least one by year’s end.

“Gary Gygax is one of those names that belongs alongside George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry as storytellers whose influence reached around the globe and through generations,” he said. “I’m excited to work with Gail and honored to bring these new universes to the global audience in the way that Gary captured hearts and minds of the planet with ‘Dungeons & Dragons.'”

Gygax was best known for co-creating with Dave Arneson the pioneering role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons,” which was first released in 1974.

DeSanto has producing credits on the four “Transformers” movies and the first two “X-Men” films. Gail Gygax noted that DeSanto is a longtime participant in role-playing games, having played “Dungeons & Dragons” since he was 11.

“Gary always envisioned his works becoming reality in film/television and beyond,” she said. “Tom’s track record speaks for itself, but I was impressed with Tom’s enthusiasm for Gary and as a longtime RPG gamer. Tom DeSanto is the perfect storyteller to bring Gary’s works to life. He is a true fan.”

Gail Gygax started working with Gary in 1983. Gail and Gary married in 1987, and collaborated until Gary’s passing in 2008.

DeSanto said, “I really can’t wait to share with fans what has been discovered in the unpublished works, it is mind blowing. The same way I loved ‘X-Men’ and ‘Transformers,’ and was able to introduce those universes from a fanboy to a global audience, the Gygax universe has that same sleeping dragon potential. I can’t wait to get to work and find studio or network partners who understand the global power of Gary Gygax.”

DeSanto is featured in the book “30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons” with fellow “D&D” fans Vin Diesel and Stephen Colbert. He owns more than 40,000 comic books.

DeSanto brought “X-Men” to director Bryan Singer and co-wrote the story with Singer for the first film in the franchise, which opened in 2000, and was part of the creative team for “X2: X-Men United.”

DeSanto and fellow producer Don Murphy also developed “Transformers” and set the project up with Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks and Paramount. The first film grossed more than $700 million worldwide in 2007 and has led to four more pics with “Transformers: The Last Knight” currently in production. Paramount is planning a June 23 release.

DeSanto is represented by Lawrence Kopeikin and Kevin Yorn at Morris Yorn.

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  1. Ts says:

    TSR without Gygax wasn’t the same. I had the fortune to have been around the gygaxian era including his Mythus game. I hope quality renditions of his universe will be made esp. with classic characters like Bigby, Mordenkainen et al. A tv series might seem less risky though. Ala game of thrones. Previous attempts at DnD movies weren’t as successful. Netflix series perhaps?

  2. gamelover22 says:

    I believe you reap what you sow. Gail was Gary’s partner, collaborator and family for the last 24 years of his life. After he left TSR, Gail and Gary worked together to build a new legacy. After his passing she has continued to make sure this legacy continues. Kudos to Gail for making this new project happen. I love Gary and I miss him.

  3. Friend of the Gygax Family. says:

    and how much money is Gail getting out of this? Is this just another ploy to screw Gary’s kids, who are the rightful heirs to the name, as Gail didn’t take Gary’s will to court for Probate, claiming there was no will? Be careful, Mr. DeSanto, you tread on shaky ground. Hopefully you can make sure that Ernie and Luke and the others will see some of what they were promised that Gail took away out of greed.

    • JRT says:

      It’s a lot more complex than that.

      First of all, if you read the law, you don’t always have to probate a will. I find it very curious too that people are spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) about the Will around the time this deal was made. If there were serious objections, they would have been brought up sooner.

      To clarify a little more of this deal, first of all, we are talking solely about work Gary Gygax developed post-TSR. (Hasbro has all the D&D stuff). When Gary left TSR, he incorporated Trigee Enterprises Corporation, which was solely in the name of Gail Gygax, this was back I believe in 1985 or 1986. He never even put his own name on it. As a corporation, it’s not subject to inheritance law until Gail dies, so it’s really up to her to decide who gets benefits from it. So, at the minimum, it’s only after Gail passes on do the kids get any money from this deal. And I am really sure somebody like Mr. DeSanto had some high powered attorneys to look over all the legal ramifications of this deal.

      And then, there’s the case of merit. If you analyze the credits of most of Gary’s post-Mythus work, Gary’s children were not involved in the writing, editing, creative process, etc. The sole major contributions they made were Luke and Alex Gygax playing characters in Gary’s ongoing campaigns. Just review the credits on the works.

      Meantime, while Gail was not the creative force—she pretty much did everything else—assisting with accounting, legal, other affairs—even working a job so Gary wouldn’t have to compromise his writing. Gary depended on other co-writers and people for his work.

      In short, Gail gets the money from this deal because she deserves it. I don’t know why in recent years some folks are trying to create a narrative of Gail “stealing the inheritance”. She was married to Gary for over 20 years! They have a full-grown son! It’s bizarre and just sad.

  4. Rachael Strange says:

    THANK YOU!! its about time someone leveraged Gary’s works. I also want books too…here take my money.

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