LONDON — Jim Paratore, who launched the TMZ website and produced “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” died Tuesday after suffering a massive heart-attack while vacationing in France, the BBC has reported. He was 58.
Paratore served as the executive producer of Telepictures, the Warner Brothers production company which was responsible for producing numerous hit shows which also included “The Bachelor” and “The People’s Court.”
But among Paratore’s greatest successes was the relaunch of the career of stand-up comic Ellen DeGeneres, whose television career had been derailed after she came out out as a lesbian in 1997.
Television network executives were skeptical about putting DeGeneres back on TV with her own show, until Paratore responded by speaking with local station managers across the United States to convince them that DeGeneres was a talented TV presence. The “Ellen” show launched in 2003 and has proven to be a durable presence on daytime TV that has lasted nine seasons.
Upon hearing the news of her long-time producer’s death, DeGeneres tweeted: “My friend, producer and champion Jim Paratore died today. He gave me a chance when no one else would. I love you, Jim.”
Paratore teamed up with Harvey Levin to found and produce TMZ.com, which is now one of the biggest names in celebrity and entertainment news.
TMZ reported that it was Paratore who pitched the idea for the website to executives at Time-Warner in 2006. He also produced the website’s successful TV show.
TMZ co-founder, Harvey Levin, also took to Twitter, where he wrote, “Jim was a mentor to me for many years. He never feared a good, unconventional idea … he reveled in rebellion.”
Paratore is survived by his wife, Jill Wickert, and his daughter.