Craig Zadan — who, along with his producing partner Neil Meron, shepherded NBC’s recent string of live musicals — has died at the age of 69.
Zadan died of complications following shoulder replacement surgery, according to a statement from NBC’s entertainment president Robert Greenblatt, who called Zadan “my dear friend”:
It is with profound sadness that I am announcing the passing of my dear friend and colleague Craig Zadan, who died of complications following shoulder replacement surgery. On behalf of his life partner, Elwood Hopkins, and his producing partner, Neil Meron, we are stunned that the man behind so many incredible film, theatre, and television productions — several of them joyous musicals — was taken away so suddenly. Craig’s distinguished career as a passionate and consummate producer is eclipsed only by his genuine love for the thousands of actors, directors, writers, musicians, designers, and technicians he worked with over the years. His absence will be felt in our hearts and throughout our business.
Along with Meron, Zadan produced NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! in 2013, starting a run of live musical productions for the network that ran up to this year’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. Zadan also served as an executive producer on NBC’s scripted Broadway drama Smash, as well as several editions of the Academy Awards on ABC. On the big screen, Zadan’s productions included the Oscar-winning 2002 musical Chicago, the 2007 musical version of Hairspray and 2011’s Footloose remake (as well as the 1984 original).