Versatile, durable, prominent figure in the entertainment industry who began with MCA in the mid-1950s and whose career really took off when he founded Uni Records in the late 60s. Tanen had a hand in...
Belushi and his best pal Dan Aykroyd began filming the now-classic musical comedy in July, 1979, but as Vanity Fair writer Ned Zeman reveals in a new expose, the tragic star was so hooked on cocaine, the project almost never got made.
The writer explains, "Production is falling behind, and fast, and the trend is largely attributable to Belushi, who stays out until all hours. Usually he can be found at his speakeasy. Sometimes he can't be found at all. Except by cocaine, which finds him everywhere. Friends, fans, and hangers-on literally throw it at him. They slip vials into his bands and pockets.
"Weeks went by, but things only got worse, prompting studio boss Ned Tanen to nearly pull the plug on the movie due to the high cost of production delays caused by Belushi's benders."
The piece continues, "He (Belushi) has become a blessed wreck, thanks mostly to his spiraling (and ultimately lethal) addiction to cocaine. On days when coke gets the best of Belushi, production stalls. And when production stalls, money burns... Tanen's options are none. They can't use a double... Nobody can double Belushi. They can't shut down production and wait for Belushi to go through rehab. Belushi won't go. Even if he does go, the ensuing costs and media madness (would be catastrophic)."
And director John Landis recalls it was a miracle the actor, who died of an accidental drug overdose only two years after The Blues Brothers was released, lived long enough to see the film through: "John was f**ked up... It became a battle to keep him alive and keep him working on the movie."
Retired from Paramount in October, but stayed on as a consultant
UNI partnered with Decca Records to form MCA Records in early 1970s
Began overseeing feature film production at Universal
Joined Paramount at the end of the year as president of the Paramount Motion Picture Group
Appointed president of Universal Theatrical Motion Pictures division
Served on the board of directors of MCA Inc.
Founded the MCA-owned Uni Records
Worked as a vice president for MCA-TV
Appeared in the documentary interview miniseries, "Naked Hollywood"
Signed an exclusive, long-term producing agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment in February
Served as an executive vice president for Universal City Records
Served as president of Universal Pictures
Joined MCA Inc. as an agent
Acted as production supervisor on the Milos Forman film, "Taking Off"
Served with the United States Air Force
Moved into film production
As an independent producer, he produced John Hughes' "Sixteen Candles" (1984) and "The Breakfast Club" (1985)
Appointed vice president at MCA Inc.
Versatile, durable, prominent figure in the entertainment industry who began with MCA in the mid-1950s and whose career really took off when he founded Uni Records in the late 60s. Tanen had a hand in leading such performers as Olivia Newton-John, Neil Diamond and Elton John into the spotlight and soon after merged his enterprise with Decca Records to form MCA Records.<p>Restless for success in new fields of endeavor, Tanen promptly turned his interest to motion picture production and quickly found himself president of Universal Pictures. During the 70s and early 80s he had a hand in developing or greenlighting such films as "American Graffiti" (1973), "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977), "The Deer Hunter" (1978), "Coal Miner's Daughter" (1980), "Melvin and Howard" (1980) and "Missing" (1982). Twice during Tanen's tenure as president, in 1980 and 1982, Universal was champion at the box-office and 1982's take marked a new industry record. He duplicated these feats after moving to Paramount in 1984, putting the studio in the number one spot in both 1986 and 1987, the latter year setting another industry record. Tanen's output during this period included "Top Gun" (1986), "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987), "The Untouchables" (1987) and "The Accused" (1988). Even during the 16-month spell between his stays at Universal and Paramount, Tanen had box-office success with the three films he executive produced independently, the "brat pack" trilogy "Sixteen Candles" (1984), "St. Elmo's Fire" (1985) and "The Breakfast Club" (1985).<p>Tanen has a notable track record not only with film patrons and cash registers but also with his associates on the production end of the motion pictures. He has actively supported a number of first-time directors, including George Lucas, Randa Haines, Robert Zemeckis, John Hughes, Joel Schumacher and John Badham and brought such European names as Michael Apted, Costa-Gavras and Milos Forman into the American limelight. Needing a break from his lengthy career, Tanen retired from Paramount in 1988, accepted a position as senior consultant with the studio. However, in 1992 he emerged from his self-imposed relaxation to link his Channel Productions with Sony Pictures Entertainment.