Related: R.I.P. Tom Sherak
I went out to see Tom Sherak yesterday to say goodbye. As I headed out on the 101 Freeway to see him, every memory I had of him came rushing back. I first met Tom more than 20 years ago, and it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. It was 1992, and I was a reporter at The Hollywood Reporter covering film. It was the year of the Los Angeles riots, which had been sparked by the acquittals of four police officers who’d beaten Rodney King mercilessly. Fox had a movie coming out called Unlawful Entry, and there was scene of a white cop beating a black man, and I found out about it. I was writing up the story, when my editor, Alex Ben Block, came out of his office. Tom had called Alex and asked him not to run the story. It was news, so we printed it. Tom called me afterward and said: “I will never forget what you did. I asked for a favor, and you guys said no.” If there’s one thing everyone knew about Tom Sherak, it’s that he would forgive, but he would never forget — and he had a very long memory.
After that, I was a non-entity to Tom. Of course, we would bump into each other, and he would flash me that closed-mouth smile. Anyone who ever got on his wrong side knows that smile.
It didn’t matter that we had so many mutual friends, including the late marketing guru Geoff Ammer and my dear friend Karen Sortito, both of whom have passed. With Tom, if you were out, you were out. But over time, the animosity slowly wore off as we found that we thought highly about the same people and had much in common. He was working tirelessly to raise money for multiple sclerosis after his daughter was afflicted with the disease, and he found out that I was raising money for muscular dystrophy, also because of a family member. And, of course, the paths of our lives just kept crossing over and over and over again. I never lost hope that one day he would come around, because I knew that he was a good man with a good heart. Everyone knew that. He was a mench.