Norman Horowitz, longtime television executive and former President/CEO of MGM/UA Telecommunications, died Tuesday of a heart attack at his Beverly Hills home. He was 82.
A Bronx, NY native, Horowitz enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War. He began his decades-long global TV industry career at at Screen Gems in 1956 as an assistant in the editing room, rising through the ranks at Columbia Pictures Television with a brief break to go to CBS/Viacom from 1968-70 before returning to Columbia. There, he became President of the television group until leaving the company in 1976. He then became the Founder of Polygram Television and, later, President/CEO of MGM/UA Telecommunications in the mid-1980s. He later went on to become a writer and media consultant.
Known for his wit, incredible deal savvy and a global network of industry executives and friends, Horowitz was often referred to as “the best distribution man in the business.”
In a 2010 column for The Huffington Post, Horowitz noted his work involved “pitching” program concepts to television programmers who frequently told him “that will never work”. He recalled an anecdote in which he admitted, he did not always know what the audience wanted.
“At MGM/UA I commissioned a pilot of Queen for a Day and I was foolish enough to change it from a program that depended on pathos and tragedy, demeaned and exploited women and tried to make it “uplifting” because I believed that it would make “better television.” We cast Vikki Carr, a great and popular Latina singer as the host and she was just terrific. Boy was I wrong about the program! I was an East coast “elitist” and believed that I could “enlighten” the masses. I was both arrogant and most of all dead wrong,” Horowitz wrote.
Horowitz is survived by his son, Steven G. Horowitz, daughter-in-law Katie Danziger and their children, Jake, Jilly and Josie; his daughter, Eileen Horowitz Bastianelli and her daughters, Lola and Maya; and his ex-wife, Florence Horowitz.
A memorial service is being planned for this summer. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the New York chapter of The March of Dimes.