UB grad turned Hollywood giant Brad Grey ’79 dies at 59

Brad Grey speaking to students in 2003 in the Center for the Arts screening room. 

Published May 16, 2017

Noted UB graduate Brad Grey, ’79, whose career in entertainment played like its own Hollywood fairytale, passed away on May 14 at the age of 59.

A Driven Dealmaker

Brad Grey in 2003 during a visit to UB.

“We are grateful for his time and thoughtful support of students. His legacy as a leader and expert will serve as an example for those who dare to follow their bliss.”
Robin Schulze, Dean
College of Arts and Sciences

The Bronx-born Grey rose rapidly from middle-class roots to Hollywood heights, most recently as chairman and CEO of Paramount, a post he held from 2005 to February of this year.

UB College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robin Schulze recalled Grey’s willingness to spend time back on campus to share his experience with UB students. He spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of students and faculty in 2003, the year UB awarded him an honorary degree.

“Among his peers, Brad earned a reputation for being a skilled dealmaker and adventurous creator,” Schulze said. “When he returned to Buffalo, Brad made time to speak with UB students, always taking care to answer their questions about the opulent, yet opaque world of professional moviemaking. We are grateful for his time and thoughtful support of students. His legacy as a leader and expert will serve as an example for those who dare to follow their bliss.”

Grey secured his first job in the entertainment field while still a UB student majoring in communications and business. He offered to work for free for Bob and Harvey Weinstein, BA ’01, of Harvey and Corky Productions, a concerts promotion company in Buffalo. The Weinsteins went on to movie-mogul-dom as founders in 1979 of Miramax Films, which they sold in 2005 to Disney for $80 million.  

Grey helped produce shows here—his first was a Frank Sinatra concert—and scouted talent at the Improv comedy club in Manhattan on weekends. Two of Grey’s earliest clients were comedian Bob Saget, who he signed while a college senior, and comic actor Gary Shandling.

After graduating, Grey partnered with talent representative Bernie Brillstein, forming the management-production company Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, where Grey developed the HBO blockbuster “The Sopranos.” Later, he joined Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston in co-founding Plan B Entertainment, where he produced the Oscar-winning film “The Departed.” 

Grey, who met his first wife, Jill Gutterson Grey, BA ’79, at UB, is survived by their three children Sam, Max and Emily; current wife Cassandra Grey and their son Jules; his mother Barbara Schumsky, brother Michael Grey and sister Robin Grey.