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|Born||February 28, 1921|
Passaic, New Jersey, United States
|Died||January 3, 2014 92) (aged|
San Francisco, California, United States
Saul Zaentz ( // ; February 28, 1921 –January 3, 2014) was an American film producer and record company executive. He won the Academy Award for Best Picture three times and, in 1996, was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.
Zaentz's film production career, primarily financed by the profits from Creedence Clearwater Revival, was marked by a dedication to the adaptation of novels. A prolific reader, Zaentz typically did not produce original screenplays. His final production, Goya's Ghosts , was an exception, being an original story by Jean-Claude Carrière and Miloš Forman.
Zaentz was born on February 28, 1921, in Passaic, New Jersey, the youngest of five.His parents were Polish Jewish immigrants.
As a child, Zaentz attended William B. Cruz Memorial school number 11 in Passaic. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Zaentz began realizing his passion for music by working for Jazz at the Philharmonic and record company head Norman Granz, a job that included managing concert tours for musicians such as Duke Ellington and Stan Getz. He studied at Rutgers after the war on the GI Bill.
In 1955 he joined Fantasy Records,for many years the largest independent jazz record label in the world. In 1967 Zaentz and other partners purchased the label from founders Max and Sol Weiss. The partners signed roots-rock group Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), fronted by former Fantasy warehouseman John Fogerty.
Fantasy Records owned the distribution and publishing rights to the music of CCR so to extricate himself from his original contract with Fantasy, John Fogerty signed away even more than the original contract had stipulated.Additionally, bad investments by Zaentz and Fantasy, seemingly on the group's behalf, cost CCR millions of dollars, some of which the group recouped through legal proceedings. In the 1980s, Zaentz sued Fogerty claiming plagiarism from Fogerty's own music asking for $140 million in damages but he lost (Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty);
Fogerty counter-sued for reimbursement of attorneys' fees and in a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Fogerty v. Fantasy , 510 U.S. 517 (1994), he won. Fogerty composed songs about the experience on his 1985 album Centerfield ("Zanz Kant Danz", "Mr. Greed"), which were thinly veiled slams at Zaentz.
Defamation of character lawsuits followed for the lyric, "Zanz can't dance but he'll steal your money" and also claiming that the melodic line in "The Old Man Down the Road" was a lift from the Fantasy-copyrighted-but-Fogerty-written song "Run Through the Jungle" from CCR's successful album Cosmo's Factory (1970). The defamation issue was settled with Warner Bros. and Fogerty changing the title and lyric to "Vanz Kant Danz".Zaentz lost on the copyright issue when a jury found Fogerty not liable.
Fogerty in turn claimed the label misled him about investing and managing his earnings from royalties, resulting in a devastating financial loss. Years later, when Zaentz sold his interest in Fantasy, Fogerty almost immediately re-signed with the label.
Zaentz received the Best Picture Oscar for three films, two of them directed by Miloš Forman — One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984)— as well as for The English Patient (1996), directed by Anthony Minghella.
In the early 1970s he saw the stage adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest at a theatre in the Jackson Square area of San Francisco. Zaentz co-produced the film adaptation with actor Michael Douglas. The film won five Academy Awards including Best Picture, which Zaentz and Douglas shared. This award sweep had not been experienced in 41 years. In 1980, Zaentz created The Saul Zaentz Film Center in Berkeley, California, an editing and sound-mixing studio for his own films, independent filmmakers, and Hollywood productions.
In 1984 Zaentz and Forman collaborated again, on the adaptation of Peter Shaffer's stage play Amadeus about composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It won eight Academy Awards, including Zaentz's second Best Picture, and spun off a best-selling soundtrack album (distributed by Fantasy Records).
Zaentz next produced The Mosquito Coast , directed by Peter Weir on location in Belize and starring Harrison Ford, adapted from the book by Paul Theroux. In 1988, Zaentz produced The Unbearable Lightness of Being , based on the Milan Kundera novel. The adaptation was directed by Philip Kaufman from a screenplay by Jean-Claude Carrière.
Zaentz's following film, At Play in the Fields of the Lord , adapted by Jean-Claude Carrière from the book by Peter Matthiessen, shot by Hector Babenco on location in the Amazon Rainforest, continued Mosquito Coast's theme of the clash of Western values with the primitive.
In 1992, Zaentz purchased the rights to the unpublished novel The English Patient and worked up a scenario with author Michael Ondaatje. In developing the project Zaentz resisted attempts by his backers to make the story more acceptable to a mainstream audience whereby they wanted him to cast Demi Moore a leading role. Zaentz instead chose Kristin Scott Thomas for the role. The book was adapted for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella. English Patient swept the 69th Academy Awards, winning Best Director for Minghella and Best Picture for Zaentz. At the same ceremony, Zaentz also accepted The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for lifetime achievement.
In 2003, Zaentz was made a Fellow of BAFTA, in recognition of his film career. In 2004–05. Zaentz and partners sold Fantasy Records to independent jazz label Concord Records, and closed the Saul Zaentz Film Center. In 2005–06 Zaentz embarked on a new film project, Goya's Ghosts , centered on events in the life of Spanish painter Francisco Goya, starring Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgård as Goya, and featuring Randy Quaid as the king of Spain. The film was made with long-time collaborators Miloš Forman (director) and Jean-Claude Carrière (screenplay). Shot on location in Spain and edited in New York, the film was released in late 2006.
Through Tolkien Enterprises, now named Middle-earth Enterprises, Saul Zaentz owned the worldwide film, stage, and merchandise rights to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings .It also includes "matching rights" should Tolkien's estate film The Silmarillion or The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth. What it did not include was the rights for televisions shows (for any show longer than eight episodes).
In 1976, Zaentz acquired certain rights as regards The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit from United Artists, who had in turn purchased them directly from Tolkien eight years prior. In 1978, Zaentz produced an animated version of The Lord of the Rings, written chiefly by Peter S. Beagle and directed by animator Ralph Bakshi.
Tolkien Enterprises granted an exclusive tabletop game license to company Iron Crown Enterprises in 1982, which was the largest such license in the industry up to that time.
Eight years after his death, Zaentz Co. decided to sell The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings rights.
On August 18, 2022, Embracer Group announced that it had entered into an agreement to purchase Middle-earth Enterprises from The Saul Zaentz Company.
Zaentz was peripherally involved in the controversy about who would make a live-action film version of The Hobbit , because of his ownership of the film rights to the novel.
Peter Jackson, who directed the successful The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, was the first person scheduled to direct The Hobbit. However, Jackson's production company Wingnut Films questioned New Line Cinema's accounting methods, bringing in an outside auditor as allowed by the contract, and eventually sued New Line. New Line executive Robert Shaye took great offense, declared that they would never work with Jackson again, and began looking for another director. Jackson said that he could not work on the film until the lawsuit was settled, and that he was apparently off the project indefinitely. MGM, which owned the distribution rights, was more hopeful that a deal could be worked out.
Shaye explained his company's position, saying that New Line's contract with Zaentz was going to expire soon, which forced them to find a new director. If the litigation were resolved by a court or by a settlement the original plan could proceed, but then New Line might need to reorganize to allow someone other than Shaye to deal with Jackson. The situation was made more complex by Zaentz's ongoing dispute with New Line over profits from the Lord of the Rings films. The dispute began shortly after the release of the films. In December 2007 Variety reported that Zaentz was also suing New Line, alleging that the studio has refused to make records available so that he can confirm his profit-participation statements are accurate.
In 2010, it became clear that Peter Jackson would direct The Hobbit films after all.
In 2011, Zaentz's company began several legal actions against small businesses in the UK to enforce their "Hobbit" trademark, including the Hungry Hobbit cafe in Sarehole, Birminghamand a pub in Southampton, England, which had traded as The Hobbit for twenty years. This raised the ire of many British correspondents such as Stephen Fry, who described it as "pointless, self-defeating bullying."
The Saul Zaentz Film Center (becoming the Zaentz Media Center after renovations) was a facility in Berkeley, California, which for many years provided production and post-production services for Bay Area filmmakers. Along with American Zoetrope and Lucasfilm, it was one of only three major film production facilities in Northern California. By 2005, it had largely shut down its post-production facilities, except for the foley recording studio, which is part of Fantasy Studios, which closed in 2018.
The film center was sold in 2007. It housed Concord Music Group and Fantasy Studios as well the Berkeley Digital Film Institute and other media production companies.
The moving image collection of Saul Zaentz is housed at the Academy Film Archive.
Zaentz died on January 3, 2014, in San Francisco, California at the age of 92 due to Alzheimer's disease complications.
John Fogerty noted his death on his Facebook page by posting the music video for his song "Vanz Kant Danz".Michael Douglas paid tribute to Zaentz in an article in The Hollywood Reporter , saying:
He was the epitome of an independent, with an incredible sense of material, and the courage to see it through. I owe everything to him. I was 28 years old and he gave me my first producing opportunity. I'll miss him dearly.
The Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation launched in 1997. On May 17, 2016, the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) announced a US35.5 million gift from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, describing it as "the largest gift ever given to a university to focus on advancing early childhood education, and the largest gift in HGSE's history".
He was married twice, first to Celia Mingus, who was the ex-wife of Charles Mingus. His second wife was Lynda Redfield, widow of actor William Redfield. Both of Zaentz’s marriages ended in divorce.
|Year||Film||Director||Oscar wins||Oscar nominations|
|1975||One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest||Miloš Forman||5||9|
|1977||Three Warriors||Kieth Merrill|
|1978||The Lord of the Rings||Ralph Bakshi|
|1986||The Mosquito Coast||Peter Weir|
|1988||The Unbearable Lightness of Being||Philip Kaufman||2|
|1991||At Play in the Fields of the Lord||Héctor Babenco|
|1996||The English Patient||Anthony Minghella||9||12|
|2005||Goya's Ghosts||Miloš Forman|
Creedence Clearwater Revival, commonly abbreviated as CCR, was an American rock band formed in El Cerrito, California. The band initially consisted of lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary songwriter John Fogerty, his brother, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford. These members had played together since 1959, first as the Blue Velvets and later as the Golliwogs, before settling on Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1967. The band's most prolific and successful period between 1969 and 1971 produced fourteen consecutive top 10 singles and five consecutive top 10 albums in the United States – two of which, Green River (1969) and Cosmo's Factory (1970), reached number one. The band performed at the 1969 Woodstock festival in Upstate New York, and was the first major act signed to appear there.
John Cameron Fogerty is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. Together with Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and his brother Tom Fogerty, he founded the band Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), for which he was the lead singer, lead guitarist, and principal songwriter. CCR had nine top-10 singles and eight gold albums between 1968 and 1972, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
The Lord of the Rings is a 1978 animated fantasy film directed by Ralph Bakshi from a screenplay by Chris Conkling and Peter S. Beagle. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien, adapting from the volumes The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.
The Lord of the Rings is a series of three epic fantasy adventure films directed by Peter Jackson, based on the novel The Lord of the Rings by British author J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are subtitled The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003). Produced and distributed by New Line Cinema with the co-production of WingNut Films. The films feature an ensemble cast including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis and Sean Bean.
In 1981, BBC Radio 4 produced a dramatisation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in 26 half-hour stereo instalments. The novel had previously been adapted as a 12-part BBC Radio adaptation in 1955 and 1956, and a 1979 production by The Mind's Eye for National Public Radio in the USA.
"The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late" is J. R. R. Tolkien's imagined original song behind the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle ", invented by back-formation. It was first published in Yorkshire Poetry magazine in 1923, and was reused in extended form in the 1954–55 The Lord of the Rings as a song sung by Frodo Baggins in the Prancing Pony inn. The extended version was republished in the 1962 collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.
Fantasy Records is an American independent record label company founded by brothers Max and Sol Stanley Weiss in 1949. The early years of the company were dedicated to issuing recordings by jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, who was also one of its investors, but in more recent years the label has been known for its recordings of comedian Lenny Bruce, jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi, the last recordings made on the Wurlitzer organ in the San Francisco Fox Theatre before the theatre was demolished, organist Korla Pandit, the 1960s rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, bandleader Woody Herman, and Disco/R&B singer Sylvester.
The Tolkien Estate is the legal body which manages the property of the English writer J. R. R. Tolkien, including the copyright for most of his works. The individual copyrights have for the most part been assigned by the estate to subsidiary entities such as the J. R. R. Tolkien Discretionary Settlement and the Tolkien charitable trust. The various holdings of the Tolkien family, including the estate, have been organized under The Tolkien Company, the directors of which were Christopher Tolkien until August 2017 and his wife Baillie Tolkien, and J. R. R. Tolkien's grandson Michael George Tolkien. The executors of the estate proper were Christopher Tolkien, who was sole literary executor, and, Cathleen Blackburn of Maier Blackburn, who has been the estate's solicitor for many years.
Middle-earth Enterprises, formerly known as Tolkien Enterprises, is a subdivision of the Embracer Freemode division of Embracer Group and formerly a trade name for a division of The Saul Zaentz Company. The subdivision owns the worldwide exclusive rights to certain elements of J. R. R. Tolkien's two most famous literary works: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. These elements include the names of characters contained within as well as the names of places, objects and events within them, and certain short phrases and sayings from the works.
Green River is the third studio album by American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, released on August 7, 1969 by Fantasy Records. It was the second of three albums they released in that year, preceded by Bayou Country in January and followed by Willy and the Poor Boys in November.
The word hobbit was used by J. R. R. Tolkien as the name of a race of small humanoids in his fantasy fiction, the first published being The Hobbit in 1937. The Oxford English Dictionary, which added an entry for the word in the 1970s, credits Tolkien with coining it. Since then, however, it has been noted that there is prior evidence of the word, in a 19th-century list of legendary creatures. In 1971, Tolkien stated that he remembered making up the word himself, admitting that there was nothing but his "nude parole" to support the claim that he was uninfluenced by such similar words as hobgoblin. His choice may have been affected on his own admission by the title of Sinclair Lewis's 1922 novel Babbitt. The Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey has pointed out several parallels, including comparisons in The Hobbit, with the word "rabbit".
Centerfield is the third solo studio album by musician John Fogerty. Released in 1985, it spawned the hit singles "The Old Man Down the Road", "Rock and Roll Girls" and the title track "Centerfield". This was Fogerty's first album in nine years; After the decision not to release his Hoodoo album, Fogerty decided to take a long break from the music business because of legal battles with his record company. In the meantime, Fogerty's recording contract with Asylum Records was reassigned to co-owner Warner Bros. Records so this album was the first released on the Warner Bros. label.
The Long Road Home: The Ultimate John Fogerty/Creedence Collection is a compilation album by American roots rock singer-songwriter John Fogerty, released on November 1, 2005, by Fantasy Records. It compiles songs from Fogerty's solo career and his band Creedence Clearwater Revival. The title refers to Fogerty's return to Fantasy Records, after a lengthy stint with Warner Bros. Records and a brief stint with DreamWorks Records.
The production of The Lord of the Rings film series under Peter Jackson's direction was an enormous challenge, starting in 1997 and ending in 2004. Many earlier attempts had failed; most that had reached the screen were animations, and many filmmakers and producers had considered how to achieve the task and then set it aside. The film series as realized consists of three epic fantasy adventure films based on J. R. R. Tolkien's eponymous novel. They were produced by New Line Cinema, assisted by WingNut Films; the cinema versions appeared between 2001 and 2003, and the extended edition for home video in 2004. Development began in August 1997. The three films were shot simultaneously, entirely in Jackson's native New Zealand, from October 1999 until December 2000, with pick-up shots from 2001 to 2003.
"The Old Man Down the Road" is a song by American rock artist John Fogerty. It was released in December 1984 as the lead single from Fogerty's comeback album, Centerfield. It became Fogerty's only top 10 hit single as a solo artist, peaking at number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and spending three weeks at the number-one spot on the Billboard Top Rock Tracks chart. Rolling Stone Album Guide critic Paul Evans regards the song as "functional swamp rock". Billboard said that it shows that Fogerty is "still able to infuse a pulsing beat with deep-swamp mysteriousness." Cash Box called it "a hard-hitting roots rocker which wastes no notes and pulls no punches."
"Run Through the Jungle" is a 1970 song by American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was released as a double A-side single with "Up Around The Bend" and on the album Cosmo's Factory.
The Hobbit is a series of three epic high fantasy adventure films directed by Peter Jackson. The films are subtitled An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). The films are based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, with large portions of the trilogy inspired by the appendices to The Return of the King, which expand on the story told in The Hobbit, as well as new material and characters written especially for the films. Together they act as a prequel to Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Sir Peter Robert Jackson is a New Zealand film director, screenwriter and producer. He is best known as the director, writer and producer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003) and the Hobbit trilogy (2012–2014), both of which are adapted from the novels of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien. Other notable films include the critically lauded drama Heavenly Creatures (1994), the horror comedy The Frighteners (1996), the epic monster remake film King Kong (2005), the World War I documentary film They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) and the documentary The Beatles: Get Back (2021). He is the fourth-highest-grossing film director of all-time, his films having made over $6.5 billion worldwide.
Fantasy Studios was a music recording studio in Berkeley, California, at the Zaentz Media Center, known for its recording of award-winning albums including Journey's Escape and Green Day's Dookie. Built as a private recording studio for artists on the Fantasy Records label in 1971, it was opened to the public in 1980 for recording, mixing and mastering. It was permanently closed on September 15, 2018.
J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954–55), set in Middle-earth, have been the subject of numerous motion picture adaptations, whether for film (cinema), television, or streaming. There were many early failed attempts to bring the fictional universe to life on screen, some even rejected by the author himself, who was skeptical of the prospects of an adaptation. While animated and live-action shorts were made in 1967 and 1971, the first commercial depiction of the book onscreen was in an animated TV special in 1977. In 1978 the first big screen adaptation of the fictional setting was introduced in the animated The Lord of the Rings.