Russell Jay Kagan, a prominent distribution executive known to his associates at MIP and MIPCOM as the “Mayor of Cannes,” died on March 27 after a battle with cancer. He was 65.
Kagan, whose career spanned four decades and earned him widespread recognition, is best known for producing major television series and co-productions, including TNT’s “Joseph,” which earned him an Emmy Award for Best Mini-Series and Discovery Channel’s “Great Wall of Iron,” for which he received a Peabody Award.
Through his international work – with offices in New York, Hollywood and Europe – the respected executive forged strong relationships with many in the industry and was a board member for NATPE and the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Kagan began his career with Alfred Haber distribution before forming his own company International Program Consultants. It was at IPC that Kagan produced Discovery Channel’s first co-production “Beyond 2000” and “Beyond Tomorrow,” which aired on Fox Broadcasting Co. After transitioning to Kinnevik Media Ventures, now known as Modern Times Group, Kagan launched the first commercial television stations in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Baltics.
Kagan is survived by his older brother Richard, his long-time girlfriend Janis Kaye, his niece Haley Kaye, and his son Michael who serves as a partner and head of international television and media at ICM Partners. Donations may be made to Stand Up For Cancer.
The funeral will be held on Friday at Mount Sinai in Simi Valley.