Friday, June 21, 2024

Stephen Rivers, PR Guy and Friend, Dead at 55


I am so sorry to read about the passing of my friend, Stephen Rivers. He was 55 and died after a long bout with prostate cancer.

So much of what’s involved in the dying of a friend and contemporary is wrapped up in when you met them. I met Stephen in 1982 when we both worked for Jane Fonda on the 20th Century Fox lot. I was a script reader. Stephen was the in-house pr for Jane’s film company, IPC Films. He also worked for Tom Hayden that summer on his failed bid for a seat the California State Assembly.

Over the years, Stephen and I had much common as he worked for Oliver Stone, Kevin Costner, and a host of other tough clients. He represented Mike Ovitz and worked at Creative Artists Agency during a particularly difficult time there. He started his own pr firm in 1994, and I remember going down to Santa Monica to see his office and have lunch and chew over old times.

Some of Stephen’s other clients were Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Richard Dreyfus. His focus was always on the political, to the left, although he worked with Costner–not a liberal–and tried hard to persuade his friends in the press to see all sides of the actor.

Mostly, though, I will remember that early time in both our careers–he was 27, I was 25– and his devotion to Jane and her causes through good times and bad. Rest in peace, Stephen. You will be sorely missed.

PS Jane wrote on her blog today from France, where she’s shooting a film:

“I am sad anyway because my dear, sweet friend, Stephen Rivers, died last night of cancer. Stephen was my PR person for a long time —as well as my friend–and traveled all over with me, including to Russia, where I was trying to persuade the government to allow the famous and brave refusenik, Ida Nudel, to go to Israel. He was the one who arranged my meeting with 40 Vietnam veterans in the basement of a church in Waterbury, Conn. We went through a lot together. Life is terminal, but for some it happens too soon.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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