Chris Chesser, the independent film and documentary producer whose credits include the hit Charlie Sheen 1989 comedy Major League, died suddenly at his home in Los Angeles on February 2. He was 74.
His death was announced today by his brothers Alan and Steve Chesser. A cause of death was not disclosed.
Chesser began his film career in New York in 1974 as an executive in international sales for Columbia Pictures. He became General Manager of the American Film Institute in Los Angeles in 1976.
In 1978 he became executive assistant at the newly formed Orion Pictures to co-founder Mike Medavoy, and from 1980 to 1983 he served as Vice President of Production for Marble Arch Productions and head of production for Filmways under George Litto and Bobby Meyers, until the company was acquired by Orion.
As a production executive, Chesser supervised such films as Orion’s Sharkey’s Machine, The Great Santini, Caddyshack, Wolfen, Arthur, Excalibur and Universal’s On Golden Pond. He also helped to develop Embassy’s Spinal Tap, Columbia’s Absence of Malice and supervised production of Orion’s Yellowbeard.
As an independent producer, Chesser executive produced Trans World Entertainment’s Kansas and Hemdale’s War Party. He produced Eyes of an Angel starring John Travolta and executive produced by Michael Douglas for Trans World Entertainment.
Chesser’s best-known project came in 1989 when he served as producer on Major League, the baseball comedy written and directed by David Ward and starring Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Wesley Snipes and Rene Russo. The hit film was co-produced by Julie Bergman Sender, with Mark Rosenberg as executive producer, Joe Roth co-producer and Irby Smith, producer.
In 1990, Chesser produced Silhouette with Alan Beattie with whom he formed Beattie/Chesser Productions to develop and produce films for both theatrical release and television. Beattie/Chesser produced Jim McBride’s The Wrong Man for Viacom Pictures starring John Lithgow and Rosanna Arquette; Carl Schenkel’s Exquisite Tenderness starring Malcolm McDowell, Peter Boyle and Charles Dance, for Capella Films; and Under Pressure for Largo Entertainment, starring Charlie Sheen and Mare Winningham, released as an HBO Premiere Movie.
Beattie and Chesser teamed with film and television producer John Corry in 1996 to create documentary series programming for television including Secrets of War with Charlton Heston for Pearson Television and The History Channel; The Color of War with Peter Coyote; The Face of Evil: Reinhard Heydrich with Charlton Heston for The History Channel; and Celebrity Wings with Dennis Quaid and Hugh Hefner for Discovery Networks.
In 2003, Chesser, Beattie and Corry were Executive Producers for Universal’s action-comedy The Rundown starring Dwayne “The Rock“ Johnson, with Karen Glasser producing.
Chesser teamed again with Corry and Glasser from 2005 to 2007 to produce Safari Tracks for MGM Television; The Long March for The History Channel; and a 3D animated feature adaptation of The Ten Commandments starring Sir Ben Kingsley, Christian Slater and Elliott Gould.
In 2012, Chesser produced Bloodwork, a thriller starring Eric Roberts, followed by Absolutely Anything a sci-fi comedy with Robin Williams, Kate Beckinsale and Rob Riggle in 2015.
Chesser is survived by his two brothers.
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