Fox’s Peter Rice Recalls How He Learned the Biz From Tom Sherak

Fox's Peter Rice Recalls How He Learned the Biz From Tom Sherak

I know that I am just one of many, many people who can say with gratitude that Tom Sherak changed my life. I can remember sitting in his office at Fox in 1987 on my first day in Hollywood as a 20-year-old intern as if it were yesterday. I recall that first summer, and how he shaped my view of Hollywood as a place that was fun and collegial, passionate and creative, smart and hard-working. I was struck by how much Tom loved the team of people who worked for him and how much they loved him. When I left to return to college at the end of the summer, I never wanted to work anywhere else but at Fox for Tom; and thanks to him, my wish came true.

Tom gave me my first job after graduating, and I am lucky enough to still work at Fox 24 years later. I always think of him as I walk around the lot. The times I would run up the little flights of stairs by his office in building 88, knowing that his door was always open and he was always available to give direct, unwaveringly honest advice.

The Friday nights we would gather by the dozens in Tom’s office for the vigil as the branch managers called in the grosses from theaters around the country (“$1,200 with a show to go!”). The producers, directors and actors would be there anxiously awaiting his verdict, and over the years, late in the evening, Rupert or Barry or Joe or Roger or Tom or Peter or Bill or Jim would drop by to see if the picture was a hit or a miss. Tom would always deliver his ruling with such warmth, empathy and integrity. He didn’t bullshit anyone. He told the truth and shared the pain over a failure, and led the celebration over a success.

Tom embodied everything that is true and good in our community. He enriched our lives, and we are poorer without him.

Peter Rice, Fox Networks Group Chairman and CEO, began his career at Fox Filmed Entertainment in 1985, then went on to serve as exec VP of production and later president of Fox Searchlight before transitioning to television.