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Ned Tanen

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Ned Stone Tanen c September 20, 1931 – January 5, 2009 was an American film studio executive behind films that included American Graffiti and Animal House

Life and careeredit

Tanen was born in Los Angeles and served in the United States Air Force after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles Following his military service, he got a job in 1954 in the MCA mailroom He helped form the Uni Records label at MCA in 1967 Artists recording on the Uni label included Neil Diamond, Elton John, Olivia Newton-John and the Strawberry Alarm Clock Uni Records later merged with Decca Records to become MCA Records1

Tanen served as production supervisor on the 1971 Miloš Forman film Taking Off, which became his springboard into film production at Universal Pictures, a subsidiary of MCA He was named president of Universal's film division in 1976 His projects at Universal included a wide-ranging variety of box office and critical success, including the 1973 film American Graffiti, Jaws 1975, Smokey and the Bandit 1977, The Deer Hunter 1978, Melvin and Howard 1980 and Missing 1982 His 1980 films set an industry box office receipts record of $290 million, with releases including Coal Miner's Daughter, The Blues Brothers and Smokey and the Bandit II He resigned from Universal in December 19821

In a 1978 article in The New York Times, Tanen described how some of the biggest box office grossing films take on a life of their own, describing the success of the film Animal House was a surprise, acknowledging that "All we did was make a picture about college fraternity life in the 1960s"12

He had left Universal saying he wanted to leave the Hollywood game and established Channel Productions, which produced the 1984 film Sixteen Candles and a pair of 1985 releases, The Breakfast Club and St Elmo's Fire1

Moving to Paramount Pictures in October 1984, Tanen served as head of the studio's motion picture division, producing box office successes including the 1986 films "Crocodile" Dundee and Top Gun, and the 1987 releases Fatal Attraction and Beverly Hills Cop II, leading Paramount to post the top revenues among all studios in both 1986 and 1987 The studio's films in 1986 drew receipts of $600 million, more than twice its nearest competitor and setting an industry record at the time Other films produced by Paramount during his time there include Ferris Bueller's Day Off 1986, Children of a Lesser God 1986, Fatal Attraction 1987, The Accused 1988 and Ghost 1990 Tanen resigned in November 1988, with the responsibilities included in his position split between Sid Ganis and Barry London3

The character Biff Tannen in the Back to the Future films was named after Tanen Writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis had met with Tanen during a script meeting for I Wanna Hold Your Hand where Tanen had reacted in aggressive fashion to their writing, accusing them of attempting to produce an anti-semitic film45

Tanen went back to independent film production after leaving Paramount, working on films such as Guarding Tess 1994, Cops & Robbersons 1994 and Mary Reilly 19961

Tanen died at age 77 on January 5, 2009 in his home in Santa Monica, California1


  1. ^ a b c d e f Grimes, William "Ned Tanen, Movie Executive With a Taste for Youth Films, Dies at 77", The New York Times, January 8, 2009 Accessed January 8, 2009
  2. ^ Bates, william "Hollywood in The Era of the 'Super-Grosser'", The New York Times, December 24, 1978 Accessed January 10, 2009
  3. ^ Harmetz, Aljean "President of the Film Group At Paramount Steps Down", The New York Times, November 22, 1988 Accessed January 9, 2009
  4. ^ Freer, Ian "The making of Back to the Future", Empire magazine, January 2003
  5. ^ "Q&A with Director Robert Zemeckis & Producer Bob Gale","Back to the Future DVD -, Bonus Materials

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