This is the second time in a week I have walked my way over to the site to write a tribute piece. This time I memorialize a man I had the extreme good fortune to have worked with over the years. Gilbert Cates, producer of 14 Academy Awards telecasts died suddenly yesterday at UCLA. Gil had been a professor at the University for many years, but he was also a prolific producer and director.
live theater. He was elected to serve two terms as President of the Directors Guild of America. He famously chose Billy Crystal to host the Academy Awards. Crystal's second turn as Oscar host in 1991 was so memorable it won Gil Cates an Emmy. He also was wise enough to choose Steve Martin, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart as Oscar hosts over the course of his lengthy helm with the broadcast for the Academy Awards. He produced several Ford's Theater presentations for ABC. I managed to attend a few of these specials and at times you just stopped and watched Gil at work. No drama was ever attached to anything he did, even though he was a masterful creator of drama.
I had the pleasure to work with Gil Cates over the course of my career at the ABC Television Network. I never saw him stressed out. He was an exercise in humility and calm. He possessed a wonderful sense of humor and a strong sense of fairness. You just liked him.
I enjoyed a couple of lunches with him over the years and he was one of those people you hated to break away from. He didn't have a pretentious bone in his body. Gil wasn't capable of shafting someone. A trait in the business of show that has harmed many.
Thank you Gil Cates for providing us with some of the best Oscar broadcasts in the long history of the Motion Picture Academy, but more importantly, thank you for teaching me a few things along the way in life. All good things were learned from Gil Cates.