Norman S. Powell, the longtime CBS executive whose work as a producer of 24 and more brought him two Emmy nominations, died on June 16. He was 86.
Powell died of acute respiratory failure, a spokesperson for the family confirmed to Deadline.
Born as Norman Scott Barnes on November 2, 1934, Powell was the son of Oscar-nominated cinematographer George Barnes and actress Joan Blondell. Following his parents’ divorce in 1936, he was adopted by his mother’s second husband, actor Dick Powell.
Powell began his career in the 1950s as a production manager on TV Westerns including Wanted: Dead or Alive, Gunsmoke and The Rifleman.
His small-screen credits, as a producer, include CBS’ The New Dick Van Dyke Show; TNT’s The Lazarus Man; CBS’ Orleans; and AMC’s The Lot, as well as telefilms including 1978’s More Than Friends, starring Rob Reiner and Penny Marshall; 1995’s Convict Cowboy, starring Jon Voight; and 1995’s Black Fox, starring Christopher Reeve. In addition to the 2002-03 season of 24, starring Kiefer Sutherland, he produced the 2006 season of CBS action drama The Unit. He also exec produced Brothers at War, an award-winning doc from director-producer Jake Rademacher and executive producers Gary Sinise and David Scantling, made for Samuel Goldwyn Pictures and Showtime.
During his six decades in Hollywood, Powell also spent 13 years as a CBS Television exec, eventually coming to serve as Senior Vice President of CBS Entertainment Productions. During his tenure at the network, he supervised the development and production of 11 series, and more than 80 made-for-TV movies. His notable credits from that period include the reality series Rescue 911, Wayne Rogers-starrer Miracle Landing, pilots for Cagney and Lacey and Wolf, Unconquered, starring Peter Coyote and Dermot Mulroney, and more.
Over the years, Powell received multiple Telly Awards, an AMPIA Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Motion Picture Industry in Alberta, Canada, and a PGA Award nomination for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama. As a producer, he also earned two Emmy nominations, for ABC’s 1977 miniseries Washington: Behind Closed Doors, and the second season of 24.
Apart from his work as a producer and an executive, Powell was also a director. He directed and exec produced the feature-length doc American Valor, looking at heroes who have received the Medal of Honor, also helming episodes of The New Dick Van Dyke Show, The Bob Crane Show and more.
A long-time member of the Directors Guild of America and The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors, where he served two terms as Chair, Powell never retired. At the time of his passing, he was working on a sequel to Brothers at War, alongside Rademacher, Sinise and Phil Gurin, as well as a soon-to-be-published memoir.
Powell is survived by his wife Ellen Levine and their son Matthew Powell; his children by his first marriage, Sandra Espe and Scott Powell; his daughter-in-law Laurie Powell; his sister Ellen Powell; his sister-in-law and brother-in-law Lisa and Kenneth Brownstein, as well as a number of nieces and nephews, a step-grandson and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Stephanie Powell Murphy.
Funeral services for Norman Powell will be held on Friday, June 25 at 12:30 pm at Mount Sinai, Simi Valley, 6150 Mt. Sinai Drive.