Joe Voci – a longtime TV executive who shepherded shows such as The Wonder Years, The Nanny and Murphy Brown along with innovative cross-media deals such as the Pussycat Dolls – died at 51 after a long fight with brain cancer. Voci was in New Jersey with his mother by his side when he died Saturday after a seven-year fight with glioblastoma multiforme.
Voci was born on June 25, 1963, in Philadelphia, and went to school there. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing Georgetown University. Soon after graduating, he opened a formalwear store in Washington, D.C., with his sister Valerie. He also worked in Cincinnati for Procter & Gamble as a brand manager. But he would often say he knew it was time to leave P&G “when one day he stopped wearing the blue suit and no one spoke to him.”
Voci came to Los Angeles in 1987, beginning with New World Television, where he oversaw production of The Wonder Years. He later became VP, comedy programming for CBS, part of an executive team that pushed the network to the top of the ratings with shows such as Murphy Brown, The Nanny and Designing Women. He departed CBS in 1994 to take a production deal with Warner Bros. for his company JVTV, which produced High Society starring Jean Smart and Mary McDonnell.
In 1998, he became a partner in Peter Guber’s Mandalay Television, getting three pilots picked up in the first season by three different networks. He created innovative product-placement deals with Coca-Cola and the restaurant chain Friendly’s for a summer series called Young Americans, and a first-ever watch-and-chat event for fans that featured some of the show’s stars.
In 2003, Voci returned to JVTV, where he wrote more than 20 pilots and produced multi-platform properties such as The Pussycat Dolls Live at the Roxy and the Dolls’ NBC mini-musical.
Voci is survived by his mother Kass, brothers Frank and Anthony and sister Valerie. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Cedars Sinai Hospital and its Johnnie L. Cochran Brain Tumor Center, which significantly extended his life thanks to his participation in a drug trial.