Mario Cecchi Gori, 73, Italy’s most prolific and powerful film producer, died of a heart attack in Rome Friday.
Cecchi Gori and his son, Vittorio, built an impressive production and distribution empire, culminating in 1989 in Penta Film, a joint venture with Silvio Berlusconi, which now dominates the Italian film industry.
The father-son team handled some 300 Italo comedies stretching back to 1949, and they produced such critically acclaimed features as Gabriele Salvatores’ Oscar-winning “Mediterraneo,” Federico Fellini’s “Voices of the Moon” and the 1962 Dino Risi classic “The Easy Life,” starring Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Tritignant.
More recently, the father-son team embarked on a new program of international film finance that has resulted in “Snake Eyes” and “A Bronx Tale,” as well as PentAmerica titles “Folks,””Man Trouble” and “House of Cards.”
Before the advent of Penta, the Cecchi Gori pair was one of Italy’s leading production companies, teaming often with RAI, as well as Berlusconi.
In addition to its production output of more than 20 titles a year, Penta has distributed a slate of about 70 Italian and U.S. independent films annually since its inception.
The contract binding the Cecchi Gori family with Penta is set to expire in April 1994.
Cecchi Gori is survived by his wife, son and two grandchildren.
Marc Berman, former Daily Variety reporter and a founding member of the Video Industry AIDS Action Committee, died Friday at Sherman Oaks Community Hospital of complications resulting from AIDS. He was 39.
Berman joined Daily Variety as a reporter covering the homevideo industry in 1990, also reviewing theater, covering gay and lesbian issues related to the entertainment industry and writing a weekly column on video for Daily Variety.
Before that he spent a brief period at Video Business, having moved to Los Angeles as West Coast bureau chief of TWICE magazine in 1986.
Raised in Cincinnati and Akron, Berman graduated from Boston U. in 1975 and, after working as an actor, focused on playwriting. His award-winning play “Kilo” was produced twice in New York; other works included “The Day Andy Warhol Got Shot,””River Downs” and “The Wolf Patrol.”
Berman wrote two books, “The Encyclopedia of Home Audio and Video” and “Ken Huston’s Illustrated Guide to the Apple IIe.” As a freelancer, he wrote for more than a dozen publications, including Entertainment Weekly and US magazine.
In early 1988, Berman became a volunteer at L.A.’s first AIDS hospice, Hughes House (now Wayland Flowers House) in Hollywood. He also served on the hospice’s board, was elected to the board of AIDS Project L.A. last year and served on the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) media strategy committee.
Berman and six executives in the homevideo business also founded the Video Industry AIDS Action Committee. In four years, the organization has raised and distributed close to $ 500,000 to 30 agencies, including APLA, Whitman Walker Clinic in D.C., Project Inform in San Francisco and the St. Louis AIDS Foundation.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Berman’s home in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to AIDS Project Los Angeles. Survived by his companion, Brock Klein; parents, Jerome and Shirley Berman of Medford, Ore.; brother, Steve; and sister, Carol.
Charles Aidman, well-known television and film actor, died in Beverly Hills Sunday of cancer. He was 68.
Aidman was one of the founders of Theater West in Los Angeles.
He took his production of “Spoon River Anthology” to UCLA and teamed with producer Joseph Cates to bring it to Broadway. Later, Aidman starred on CBS in a special of “Spoon River,” for which he received an Emmy nomination.
He played more than 400 TV rolls and also was the narrator of “The New Twilight Zone” series.
Telepix included “The Picture of Dorian Gray,””The Red Badge of Courage” and “Prime Suspect.” He appeared in such feature films as “Hour of the Gun,””Kotch, “”Twilight’s Last Gleaming””Uncommon Valor,” and “Zoot Suit.”
Aidman was also the voice in numerous commercials.
He is survived by his wife and stepson.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday evening at Pierce Brothers in Westwood Memorial Village.
A memorial service for Michael Schoenbrun, who was senior VP in charge of production for Gracie Films at the time of his death earlier this year, will be held from 3-6 p.m. Sunday at the 20th Century Fox Commissary, 10201 W. Pico Blvd. Schoenbrun served as a mentor to young industry hopefuls during his career as an assistant director, unit production manager and senior production exec.