Production designer J. Michael Riva, whose most recent work includes Quentin Tarantino’s currently filming Django Unchained and Sony’s franchise reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, has died. Riva was 63. A Sony spokesman said Riva was in New Orleans on location and suffered a severe stroke while preparing to head to the studio. Very highly regarded in the industry, he was the son of actress-author Maria Riva and art director William Riva and the grandson of Marlene Dietrich and film editor Rudolph Sieber. Raised in New York City, he eventually found his way to Los Angeles. Dropping out of UCLA to pursue a career in production design, Riva apprenticed with Jackson DeGoiva and his first major movie was uncredited work with Toby Rafelson on I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977). That led to Brubaker (1980) with Robert Redford and subsequently Redford hired him for Ordinary People (1980). Other work included the 1984 cult fave The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension plus Bad Boys, The Goonies, The Golden Child and The Color Purple, which earned him an Oscar nomination, among numerous others. In addition to Django Unchained and the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man, Riva also worked on Iron Man and its first sequel, Spider-Man 3, both Charlie’s Angels movies, the four Lethal Weapon pictures as well as Scrooged, Congo, Dave and A Few Good Men. He received an Emmy for his design work on the 79th Annual Academy Awards.
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