Joe Wizan, producer of films ranging from “…And Justice for All,” with Al Pacino, to Morgan Freeman starrer “Along Came a Spider,” died Monday, March 21, in Westlake Village, Calif., of natural causes after a long illness. He was 76.
Wizan started in the mailroom at William Morris and went to become a successful agent there and at London International Agency and Creative Management, the predecessor to ICM). Clients included Robert Altman, Sydney Pollack, Mark Rydell and John Boorman; agency proteges included Barry Diller, Jeff Berg, MGM prexy Mike Marcus and Mike Medavoy.
He segued into a career as a prolific producer, producing 24 films. In 1972 he produced three, including “Junior Bonner,” with Steve McQueen, and “Jeremiah Johnson,” with Robert Redford. He produced Robert Wise’s 1977 thriller “Audrey Rose,” and “…And Justice for All” in 1979.In the early to mid-’80s, as prexy of production at 20th Century Fox, he oversaw films including “Romancing the Stone,” “Bachelor Party,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Ladyhawke,” “Enemy Mine” and “Cocoon.”
He produced the Burt Lancaster-Kirk Douglas reunion “Tough Guys” in 1986 and William Friedkin’s “The Guardian” in 1990, and he was exec producer on “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!” In 1997 he made the first of two films based on James Patterson’s Alex Cross novel: “Kiss the Girls,” starring Freeman and Ashley Judd. The sequel, 2001’s “Along Came a Spider,” was Wizan’s last movie.
Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Wizan grew up in the Boyle Heights section of East Los Angeles, went to UCLA and served in the National Guard.
During the 1990s he created and hosted talkradio show “Inside the Movies” (later “The A List”) on Los Angeles radio station KRLA; his guests on the shows included actors, screenwriters, directors, producers and studio execs. More recently he served as an adjunct professor at UC Santa Barbara’s film studies department.
He is survived by his wife, Melanie; a son and a daughter; two stepsons; two grandchildren; two stepgrandchildren; and his sister.