Mega-film producer and record exec Saul Zaentz dead at 92

Saul Zaentz, a film and music producer responsible for "Amadeus" and "The English Patient," died Friday at 92. Credit: Getty Images
Saul Zaentz, a film and music producer responsible for “Amadeus” and “The English Patient,” died Friday at 92.
Credit: Getty Images

An outsized mega-film producer in the style of David O. Selznick, Samuel Bronston and Dino De Laurentiis, Saul Zaentz died Friday, January 3 at the age of 92.

Born in Passaic, New Jersey to Jewish immigrants, Zaentz became most familiar for the scant but major movies he produced, including “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Amadeus” and “The English Patient,” all of which won Oscars for Best Picture. His name is also on “The Mosquito Coast,” “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and, his final film, from 2005, “Goya’s Ghosts.”

His films mixed big budgets with big prestige. This is another way of saying they tended to be literary adaptations. Indeed, one of his major rights wins was “The Lord of the Rings,” which he acquired in the 1970s. He’s responsible for the 1978 animated version of the books, which only got up to roughly halfway through “The Two Towers.” Directed by Ralph Bakshi, it was made partly with rotoscoping, the technique in which animators draw over filmed actors. Zaentz was involved in legal battles over purported royalties involving the Peter Jackson-directed films of “Rings” and “The Hobbit.”

Though he’s most associated with film, his first love was music. In 1955, he joined Fantasy Records, then a jazz label. In the 1960s he purchased the label from founders Max and Sol Weiss and geared it more towards rock. His most famous pick-up was Creedence Clearwater Revival, a score that was to tarnish if not destroy Zaentz’s reputation.

CCR frontman John Fogerty — who had once been employed in the Fantasy warehouse — eventually realized he had signed away more rights than he had imagined. When he attempted to extricate himself from his contract, a long, bitter legal battle ensued between he and Zaentz, with the latter keeping rights to the songs Fogerty had himself penned.

Fogerty subsequently wrote several thinly-veiled attacks on Zaentz, including “Zanz Kant Denz” and “Mr. Greed,” both found on his “Centerfield” record. Zaentz tried, unsuccessfully, to sue for libel, as well as claiming the solo song “The Old Man Down the Road” was too close to “Run Through the Jungle,” which Zaentz owned. When Zaentz left Fantasy, Fogerty quickly re-signed with the label.

Zaentz had been suffering from Alzheimer’s in the final years of his life.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.