Clay Smith Dies: Emmy-Winning Producer For ‘Access Hollywood’, ‘Entertainment Tonight’ And Film Critic Was 69

Clay Smith dead
Thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil for victims of the Chinese government's brutal military crackdown three decades ago on protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Hong Kong is the only region under Beijing's jurisdiction that holds significant public commemorations of the 1989 crackdown and memorials for its victims. Hong Kong has a degree of freedom not seen on the mainland as a legacy of British rule that ended in 1997. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) NBC

Clay Smith, who spent many years as a senior producer at Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight, died Friday night in Palm Springs, Calif. after a long battle with cancer, according to a friend. He was 69.

“Clay really invented music coverage for TV entertainment news shows,” said Deadline critic and columnist Pete Hammond, who worked with Smith for many years. “He knew everything and everyone in the music industry and brought it to a new level in all the years he was at ET, where we both originally started in the research department. He was a real pioneer and highly regarded by all.”

Smith grew up in Kansas City, Missouri as one of three children, and later studied at the University of Missouri. He worked at Arista Records in the late 1970s and was briefly an artist manager and music supervisor.
Smith joined Entertainment Tonight in 1983, segueing after 14 years to Access Hollywood in 1997 as a supervising producer in charge of music coverage and the segment producers, among other duties.
He became the show’s movie critic in 2002, and was the featured reviewer on its “Critic’s Picks” segment. Smith appeared on KNBC and other NBC owned & operated stations across the country, and on MSNBC as a critic.

In 2005, he returned to Entertainment Tonight as a senior supervising producer, where he continued his on-air movie reviews for ET’s companion show, The Insider.

In 2014, he received an Emmy Award as senior supervising producer when Entertainment Tonight won for “Outstanding Entertainment News Program.” He retired that year.

Survivors include a sister and life partner Ralph Dailey. No information was immediately available on memorial plans.

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