You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gary Nardino dead at 62

Former Par TV chief

Gary Nardino, former head of television production at Paramount and Orion, died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke on Jan. 22. He was 62.

During his tenure at Paramount from 1977 to 1983, Nardino’s division dominated the industry with hits such as “Happy Days,” “:Laverne & Shirley,” “Mork & Mindy,” “Family Ties,” “Cheers” and “Taxi.”

“He ran Paramount when Paramount was by a large measure the No. 1 TV studio in town,” said CBS Television president Leslie Moonves, who for years attended Nardino’s lavishly catered Thursday night poker games. “He was larger than life in more ways than one. He was a showman, and he enjoyed all the trappings of being a top TV executive. He was a major figure in our industry and he affected the lives of a lot of people.”

Fond of characters

Nardino clearly was fond of the characters he helped bring to the small screen. ” ‘Happy Days’ took us to an innocent time and brought us in touch with our adolescence,” he wrote in a Daily Variety column in June 1987.

” ‘Taxi,’ on the other hand, did the opposite,” he wrote. “It took an ensemble of different characters with conflicting points of view and divergent experiences and placed them in a microcosm of stark reality. ‘Taxi’ was a human drama every week, dealing with good and evil, love and hate.”

Nardino also hit paydirt with miniseries and TV movies. Under his supervision, Par made “Shogun,” “Golda” and the landmark production “The Winds of War,” all of which won Emmys.

Nardino’s division consistently produced more programs than its competitors. In the 1982-83 season alone, the Paramount TV trademark appeared on 11 weekly primetime shows.

Film successes

Nardino’s success in TV spilled into motion pictures: He supervised production of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” one of Par’s top box office hits of 1982, and was exec producer of “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.”

Nardino was born on Aug. 26, 1935, in Garfield, N.J., and graduated from Seton Hall U. with a busi-ness degree. He entered the industry in 1959 as an agent and, over the years, represented clients such as Lorimar Prods. – which would later bring him aboard as an independent producer – Granada Televi-sion, Filmways, David Frost, Allan Funt, Dick Clark and Arthur Godfrey.

He was senior VP of ICM’s New York TV department, a post he also held subsequently at the Wil-liam Morris Agency. Nardino was the TV packaging agent for variety specials starring Bing Crosby, Shirley MacLaine, Andy Williams and Perry Como.

As agent for David Susskind, Nardino negotiated network deals for “Eleanor and Franklin,” “The Glass Menagerie” and “The Price.”

Groundbreaking agreement

Representing Granada TV, he came up with a groundbreaking co-production agreement that made possible a series of American plays produced in London for U.S. television, among them Tennessee Williams’ “Sweet Bird of Youth,” with Laurence Olivier.

In July 1983, Nardino vacated the TV helm at Par to produce theatrical films and TV programs under his own banner. Linked to Par, Gary Nardino Prods. made “Brothers” for Showtime and “Marblehead Manor” and “Hard Knocks,” both for NBC.

In 1988, he was named chairman and CEO of Orion Television Entertainment, where he supervised series like “Equal Justice,” “Hearts Are Wild,” “Lifestories,” “American Detective” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures.”

In June 1991, when Orion’s TV production wing closed down, Nardino moved to Lorimar as part of an indie deal to create TV programming. When Lorimar was taken over by Warner Bros., Nardino came with the package. Among other projects at WB, he was exec producer of “Time Trax.”

More recently, Nardino became co-president of North Hall Prods., which produces “Pacific Blue,” in its fourth season on the USA Network.

“I just feel honored that I could spend the last three years working with such a kind, generous and intelligent legend in the television business,” said Bill Nuss, Nardino’s partner at North Hall.

Nardino’s marriage to the former Florence Peluso ended in divorce. They had three children, Caroline, Teresa and Gary. Nardino is survived also by his sisters, Angela Stafford and Theresa Sodaro, and his father, Louis Sodaro. A memorial service will be held on Feb. 11 at a place to be announced. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the scholarship fund at Seton Hall U.

More Biz

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Some Weinstein Accusers Balk at $30 Million Settlement

    Updated: Some of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers are balking at a proposed $30 million settlement of their harassment claims, which could scuttle the deal, Variety has learned. Attorneys in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case told Judge Mary Walrath on Thursday that they are close to a global resolution of the civil litigation. The accusers, their lawyers [...]

  • Director Dean DeBlois and online game

    'Dragon' Director Dean DeBlois and PUBG's CH Kim to Keynote 2019 VIEW Conference

    Dean DeBlois, director and executive producer of DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” and PUBG Corporation CEO CH Kim are the first keynote speakers announced for the 2019 VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy, in October. Since it began 12 years ago, VIEW, which stands for Virtual Interactive Emerging World, has continually [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Accusers Near Settlement in Bankruptcy Case

    Attorneys in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case say they are getting close to reaching a settlement that would compensate Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct accusers. The company went bankrupt last year, as it faced hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and numerous civil suits on behalf of Weinstein’s alleged victims. The company sold to Lantern [...]

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Pamela Anderson

    Pamela Anderson Fears Julian Assange 'Won't Survive' Extradition to U.S.

    After previously speaking out in support of her friend and WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, Pamela Anderson doesn’t think he would survive an extradition from the U.K. to the U.S. “I hope he gets out of there, but I don’t think he’ll survive extradition. It can’t happen. It’s not even an option. We can’t have him [...]

  • Jane Austin SAG AFTRA

    SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin Running for President

    Jane Austin, the National Secretary-Treasurer of SAG-AFTRA, has become the third candidate for the presidency of the performers union, joining incumbent Gabrielle Carteris and Matthew Modine. Austin is running as an independent for the top post at SAG-AFTRA, which has 160,000 members. Carteris will seek re-election as the head of the ticket for the Unite [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content