UPDATED with comment from President Bill Clinton: Steve Bing, the film financier and philanthropist who backed hit movies from Robert Zemeckis’ The Polar Express and Beowulf to the Rolling Stones concert movie Shine a Light, has died.
According to law enforcement sources, Bing jumped from a Century City building at around 1 p.m. Monday. Following standard protocol, the Los Angeles Police Department would not confirm that the individual in question was Bing. However, the description of the man in his 50s who was found dead on the scene fits that of the producer.
Bing, also an influential political donor, was a real estate tycoon from a family with a rich history. In 2012, he pledged a $30 million legacy gift to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.
“For years Steve Bing has been one of the most philanthropic and generous people in our industry,” Jeffrey Katzenberg said at the time. “He has also been one of the most loyal supporters of the MPTF through both the good and challenging times. Now with this amazing contribution he puts us another step closer to securing our long-term goals.”
On Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton issued a statement, saying, “I loved Steve Bing very much. He had a big heart, and he was willing to do anything he could for the people and causes he believed in. I will miss him and his enthusiasm more than I can say, and I hope he’s finally found peace.”
Bing’s screenwriting credits including co-writing the 2003 feature film Kangaroo Jack. His executive producer credits include Get Carter (2000), Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (2005), Youth in Revolt (2009) and Rock the Kasbah (2015).
More recently, he joined with fellow deep-pocketed financiers Ron Burkle, Terry Semel, Arnon Milchan’s New Regency and James Packer’s and Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment to finance Warren Beatty’s two-decades-in-the-making Howard Hughes movie Rules Don’t Apply, which was released in 2016.
He was the chairman of the production-finance company Shangri-La Entertainment, whose most recent credits include 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Bing zealously guarded his privacy, but was — especially during the 1990s and 2000s — among the top progressive political donors, bankrolling environmental initiatives. He contributed nearly $50 million of his own money to an oil production tax that went down in defeat in 2006. He was particularly close to Clinton, having given at least $10 million to his foundation.
In 2009, when Clinton flew to North Korea to negotiate for the release of two American journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, it was Bing who picked up the tab.
At least when it came to public attention, Bing was much more low key than the outsized world of philanthropy and fundraising.
In 2000, when the Democratic National Committee was struggling to find donors to pay for the party’s convention in Los Angeles that year, then-DNC fundraiser Terry McAuliffe visited Burkle’s house to line up funding. McAuliffe wrote in his book that he was a bit taken aback when Bing arrived “wearing ripped up old jeans and a T-shirt with holes in it.”
McAuliffe wrote that he thought Bing might be a pool man or a gardener. When McAuliffe gave him the pitch, Bing said, “All right, I’ll help you out.”
Then, according to McAuliffe, Bing pulled out a crumpled check out of his jeans pocket, unfolded it, “and had to run his hand over it a few times to get it straightened out enough to write on.” Bing wrote out the figure $1,000,000.
Born on March 31, 1965, Bing was the grandson of Leo S. Bing, the namesake of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Bing Theatre. Survivors include a son, Damian Hurley, whose mother is Elizabeth Hurley; and a daughter, Kira Bonder.
Deadline’s Ted Johnson contributed to this report
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