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David Weisman, ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ Producer, Dies at 77

David Weisman, who was Oscar-nominated as producer of “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” died Oct. 9 in Los Angeles due to complications from West Nile virus. He was 77.

Weisman had a long career as a graphic designer and photographer and co-wrote and co-directed cult classic “Ciao! Manhattan” about 1960s icon Edie Sedgwick.

Born in Binghamton, N.Y., Weisman dropped out of Syracuse University in the early 1960s to design film posters in Rome. He met Federico Fellini and created a poster for “8 1/2” before returning to New York to work with Otto Preminger on “Hurry Sundown.” He also designed the key art for “The Boys in the Band” and many other films.

On “Ciao! Manhattan” he partnered with John Palmer, an alumnus of Andy Warhol’s Factory. He worked as associate director on avant-garde film “The Telephone Book” and created “Shogun Assassin,” edited from a series of Japanese samurai movies.

Weisman begin working with Leonard Schrader on documentary “The Killing of America.” Weisman acquired rights to Manuel Puig’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman” in 1982 and began developing the screenplay with Schrader. The film was originally set to star Burt Lancaster, but as his health failed, he was replaced with William Hurt and Hector Babenco began filming in 1983 with Hurt, Raul Julia and Sonia Braga starring.

Weisman finished the edit with Schrader after Babenco also faced health issues, and after an arduous post-production period, the film was accepted in competition at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival, where Hurt won best actor. The film grossed nearly $18 million through Island Alive, an unprecedented amount for an independent drama, and was Oscar-nommed for best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay, with Hurt winning best actor.

Weisman went on to produce Paul Morrissey’s “Spike of Bensonhurst” and Leonard Schrader’s “Naked Tango.” He co-authored the book “Edie: Girl on Fire” with Melissa Painter and worked on a documentary on Sedgwick. He recently won a lawsuit giving him publicity rights to her name and likeness.

More recently, Weisman has been developing projects with Paul Schrader.

He is survived by his brother, film and television director Sam Weisman; sister-in-law Constance McCashin; nephew Daniel Weisman; and niece Margaux Weisman.

A memorial will be announced at a later date. Donations may be made to Save Tigers Now, a joint effort of the World Wildlife Fund and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

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