General News

Director Ted Demme dies at 38

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Jan 14, 2002 | 9:06am EST

Film and television director Ted Demme was pronounced dead Sunday at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. He was 38.

Demme was brought to the emergency room in full cardiac arrest. The cause of his death has not yet been determined and an autopsy will be conducted, The Associated Press reports.

Demme, the nephew of Jonathan Demme, started off as a production assistant at MTV in 1986 and advanced to senior producer before he became the creator/producer of Yo! MTV Raps. He also directed videos for House of Pain, Henry Rollins and Bruce Springsteen, as well as co-directed the rap segment MTV's 10th Anniversary Special and Rock the Vote.

His first venture into feature movie direction was the 1993 urban comedy Who's the Man starring Dr. Dre and Ed Lover, but it was Demme's high-profile feature The Ref that got him noticed. The Ref starred Denis Leary as a burglar who takes a neurotic couple hostage. Though the film was a disappointment at the box office, it earned favorable reviews.

Demme's next outing was the 1996 buddy film Beautiful Girls starring Matt Dillon, Lauren Holly, Rosie O'Donnell, Timothy Hutton, Uma Thurman and Natalie Portman. He spent the following year working on several TV projects including an episode of the Robert Altman produced series Gun, a segment of HBO's Subway Stories: Tales from the Underground, Denis Leary: Lock 'n' Load and the 1999 Fox series Action.

Demme garnered his first feature producing credits on John Dahl's Rounders in 1998, with his former MTV co-worker and production company partner Joel Stillerman. That same year, Demme executive produced and directed Monument Ave starring Denis Leary in arguably his best performance to date. He then went on to direct Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence in the prison comedy Life.

In 1999, Demme picked up his first Emmy as one of the executive producers of HBO's A Lesson Before Dying.

Demme's last project was Blow (2001), starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz. The film was based on the true story of George Jung, the American connection to the Colombian drug cartel in the late '70s and early '80s.

Demme's wife, Amanda Scheer, and child survive him.

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