Longtime and prolific TV executive Don Ohlmeyer, who led NBC during its heady days of Seinfeld, Friends, and ER, has died. He was 72.
Ohlmeyer’s family confirmed his death in Indian Wells, California, to the New York Times. The cause was cancer. His death was announced by Al Michaels during Sunday’s Giants-Cowboys game on NBC. “[He was] the original producer of Monday Night Football when he was in his 20s,” said Michaels. “He made NBC an entertainment powerhouse in the ’80s and ’90s, a must-see during that particular time, he came back and produced Monday Night Football in 2000.”
While at NBC in the ’90s, Ohlmeyer helped to usher the network into the winner’s circle with mega-hits like Homicide: Life on the Streets, Frasier, and Will & Grace, as well as Seinfeld and Friends. It was during his tenure that the successful “Must-See TV” campaign was created. Both beloved and feared, Ohlmeyer ran the entertainment division from an elevated desk and would sometimes scare the daylights out of entertainment reporters, having once told a scribe, “You are dead to me,” after he wrote what Ohlmeyer perceived as an unfavorable story.
“I’m not a politician,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1999 after leaving NBC.
Ohlmeyer began his career at ABC, where he honed his craft on Wide World of Sports and Monday Night Football. He then branched out on his own and created Ohlmeyer Communications Company, which came up with “The Skins Game” for the PGA Tour, among other TV events.
Ohlmeyer is survived by his wife, the former Linda Jonsson; his sons Drew, Chris, Todd, and Kemper; and nine grandchildren, according to the NYT.