Tom Sherak Q&A: Cancer Battle And $1 Salary Not Stopping New L.A. Film Czar’s Latest Quest

As my colleague Dominic Patten was first to report earlier today on Deadline, former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak has been named to the new post of LA Film Czar by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Sherak will be paid only $1 a year (“an infinity compared to what the Academy paid,” he laughed about his previous nonpaying gig) in the post designed to bring a halt to runaway production and put it back in Los Angeles, capital of the film world. Of course Sherak is no stranger to politics, of a sort: Being a former President of the Motion Picture Academy is no walk in the park. He knows the real “capital” is Sacramento, where he will spend time trying to convince Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers this is an important issue — not only for Los Angeles but California as a whole. In a conversation that turned very personal this afternoon, Sherak told me he initially resisted the job but took it only after a meeting with Garcetti this week and an OK from his oncologist. Sherak has gone public with his 12-year battle against prostate cancer and expects to be up to the task full time in a few weeks after final chemotherapy treatments. He’s even jokes now that he’s the “czar,” does that mean he can pick his own spot for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

DEADLINE: With everything going on in your personal life right now and your regular paying job as an industry consultant, why take this on?
I resisted it, but I got a call from two of Garcetti’s people saying they’ve vetted me and they want me to meet about this job. So I went to lunch with them, and they said, ‘We’ve talked to the mayor, and he’s approved this and we want you to take it.” And I said I would have to think about it. I went home and I thought about it. And again, I am going through all kinds of stuff with my body, and somebody once said don’t make a decision when your body’s going one way and your head’s going another way. I took another couple of days and said I wanted to meet with the mayor. This past Monday I met with the mayor, and when the hour-and-15-minute conversation was over, if he offered me the Brooklyn Bridge I might have bought it from him. … I told him when it was all done to let me go home and talk to (my wife). I did, and she said, “Take it.” I next called my oncologist, and he said, “Tom, take it; you’re going to be fine.” And that’s what happened. (more…)

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