Showtime Exec Gary Garfinkel Dies at 55

Showtime said Friday that Gary Garfinkel, co-head, content acquisitions at Showtime Networks Inc., died from an illness that morning at age 55 at home with his family.

Gary Garfinkel

Gary Garfinkel

“Gary was one of the most warm and welcoming people I’ve known, and was beloved by everyone who worked with him at Showtime over the past 25 years,” David Nevins, president and CEO, Showtime Networks Inc., said in a statement. “He was a great warrior and advocate for our company and worked hard to bring the best content to our service. In particular, many stand-up comedians credit Gary for giving them the early exposure that made their careers. He played a key role in cementing Showtime as a major premium network, and all of us who worked with him valued his taste, his counsel and his integrity. We will miss him terribly.”

Showtime said that, along with Kent Sevener, Garfinkel was responsible for the evaluation, negotiation and acquisition of feature films, documentaries, stand-up comedy, specials and music programs for all of Showtime Networks' services. Garfinkel was integrally involved with programming, business development, digital media and specialized programming for on-air destinations that highlight documentaries, science fiction and horror. He dramatically increased stand-up comedy on the network, expanding the portfolio to 39 comedy specials in 2012, under the "Laugh Out Loud" on-air banner.

He joined Showtime in 1993. Earlier he served as senior VP, film acquisitions, negotiating first-run theatrical output and library deals with the major studios and licensing deals with independent suppliers. He built programming models for the development of new channels and significantly increased the volume of acquisitions for Showtime's on-demand and TV-everywhere services, the CBS-owned programmer said.

Before joining Showtime, Garfinkel worked at Sony Pictures Entertainment as an international business analyst and in New York at Salomon Brothers as a foreign exchange analyst, while also attending New York University Stern School of Business. He received a B.S. in Finance from Boston University.

In lieu of flowers, the Garfinkel family suggested donations in Gary’s name to The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University and the UCLA Brain Cancer Research Fund.