Rick Finkelstein, Universal Pictures executive and star of the documentary “The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising”, died yesterday after battling cancer, according to the LA Times. He was 64. NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer told studio employees Wednesday in a memo, “He has been a dear friend to many of us and was an important part of the success of this company,” wrote Meyer. “He will be missed.”
Finkelstein became well-known after the release of the documentary about injured athletes, which featured him and how he lived his life after a near fatal skiing accident left him paralyzed from the waist down in 2004.
But that didn’t slow him down one bit. “I never thought I wouldn’t work again,” Finkelstein told The Times two years ago. He used a motorized wheelchair after the accident, and was worried about how a town that obsessed about appearances would see him. “I was really concerned about showing up in a wheelchair. That was my biggest concern — that it would make me look weak,” he said.
He began his career in an unusual way, as well. As a youngster, Finkelstein was arrested in Tokyo for selling marijuana to a soldier. He was held in solitary confinement for weeks and faced the possibility of years of hard labor. He promised his family that he would make something of himself, if only he was given the chance. That chance came one day, when he was freed and sent back to the US.
He made good on his word and became a big time lawyer and joined Universal in 1999 from PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, where he served as executive vice president, and helped integrate PolyGram into Universal Studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Former Senator and current CEO of the MPAA Christopher Dodd, said, “I was profoundly saddened to learn of Rick’s passing. Rick has been a member of the entertainment industry for 35 years, and his loss will be felt throughout our community. He was a valuable voice on the MPAA Board and deeply respected by his colleagues. Rick’s many contributions will not be forgotten, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this very difficult time.”
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