New Line’s Al Shapiro dead at 57

Exec helped transform studio

Al Shapiro, New Line’s prexy of domestic theatrical distribution, died of cancer on Sunday. He was 57.

Having joined New Line in 1986, Shapiro was largely responsible for transforming New Line from a niche-oriented film company to a Hollywood studio.

As head of domestic distribution, Shapiro was responsible for devising and implementing specially tailored release plans for each NL film.

“He created our distribution organization out of whole cloth,” said Michael Lynne, prexy and COO at New Line, adding “It’s a big loss. He never got rattled, he rattled other people.”

He was described by colleagues as a tough but funny man with no loves other than his wife and with few interests other than film and good restaurants in which to eat and discuss film, Shapiro was a an old school film executive.

Long road

A native of Brooklyn, Shapiro began his motion picture career as an usher at Walter Reade Theaters in Long Branch, New Jersey.

Prior to joining New Line in 1986, Shapiro had served as an executive and later as prexy of American Theater Management.

Shapiro was also known as a scout for young talent to groom as future New Line execs.

“He was always hiring people and letting them get ahead,” said David Tuckerman, exec veepee of distribution and a friend of 30 years. “In this business, that’s a rarity.”

Shapiro is survived by his wife of 26 years, Honnie, his mother, Frieda, and brother, Richard.

Services will be private, and a public memorial will be announced shortly. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Monmouth University’s Dept. of Communications.