The beloved and prolific producer Craig Zadan passed away August 21. Zadan, along with his producing partner Neil Meron, are often noted as bringing Broadway back to the mainstream, beginning with the Bette Midler-led Gypsy airing on CBS in 1993. Shortly after came Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, starring Brandy and Whitney Houston, airing on ABC in 1997. In 1999, their made-for-television adaptation of Annie aired on ABC, featuring a host of Broadway favorites, including Victor Garber, Audra McDonald, and Kristin Chenoweth.
The pair were also the minds behind NBC's Smash as well as annual live musical broadcasts, with this year's Jesus Christ Superstar Live earning 13 Emmy nominations. In addition to their television projections, Zadan and Meron also produced the Oscar-winning film adaptation of Chicago, Footloose, Hairspray, as well as several Broadway shows, including How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Promises, Promises.
The Broadway community has taken to social media to share their memories, gratitude, and thoughts.
Losing Craig Zaden saddens me so much. I knew him most of my career. This is a loss for the industry and his friends ��
Annie, The Music Man, Promises, Hairspray… Craig, you were there with me from the beginning. This is a true loss not only for me, but for the world. Rest in peace, sweetheart. pic.twitter.com/tl2rEtMNBM
— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) August 22, 2018
Long live the spirit of @craigzadan RIP my brother. Thank you for Steel Magnolias, Wizlive, Hairspraylive..you helped to shape my professional life! Will always carry your love of musicals with me. Peace
I can’t believe you’re gone. You and Neil were the very first to just offer me a role. I never felt anyone in this business believe in me like you two did. My heart goes out to your loved ones. You were so full of life, knowledge, passion, jokes, and love. I’m so thankful that we crossed paths and you became my friend. Hollywood lost a legend. #RIPCraigZadan your presence will be missed ��
I’m stunned and saddened the unexpected passing of Craig Zadan. He’s been a friend my entire adult life, championed me to host the Oscars, brought musical theatre back to TV. A wonderful, kind spirit. My sincere condolences to his family and his partner, Elwood. #RIP pic.twitter.com/BWLDmViJar
I just found out that Craig Zadan has passed on. He and his producing partner @neilmeron are responsible for one of the most meaningful professional experiences in my career. They brought the magic of Broadway to prime time television with SMASH, and for 2 years I felt like I was living in a dream. They brought accomplished actors, real Broadway dancers and singers, Tony winning lyricist/score writers, Steven Spielberg, and Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Reback together with a pure love and drive to bring Broadway to all those who can’t afford, or travel to see a show in NYC. I loved it. And I loved Craig for his passion, and heart, and absolute belief in the endeavor. A kind, talented man who’d never really imagined would ever stop creating. RIP.
Absolutely shell-shocked and heartbroken by the news of the death of #craigzaden who was not only a titan of the on-screen Musical, but in many ways made it popular again after years of neglect. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to his creative partner, Neil Meron.
I am devastated by the news of the passing of my dear friend and film, tv & Broadway producer, @craigzadan. My life and career were forever changed by the opportunities he and his producing partner, @neilmeron, provided me over the years. I will miss him, dearly. pic.twitter.com/SoPSZCCrkE
RIP to our friend Craig. He produced Jesus Christ Superstar with us and also produced the Oscars when Common and I sang "Glory" in front of a replica of the Pettus Bridge. A wonderful producer and a lovely man. https://t.co/pFSSSaabhM
— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 22, 2018
RIP to this kind man who gave me the opportunity of a lifetime on Smash. I’m forever grateful to him x https://t.co/N978bH48vy
I'm at a loss for words over the passing of my friend @craigzadan. I was just texting with him... one of the nicest and inspiring people I ever met. RIP, my friend.
— Erich Bergen (@erichbergen) August 22, 2018
I’m absolutely shocked to hear that Craig Zadan has passed away. He dedicated his life to bringing musical theater to the masses and succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. My condolences to his family and his producing partner @neilmeron. https://t.co/aoJk4H7QNe
Stunned. Devastated. I don’t even know what to say. Craig was a wonderful man who showed me nothing but kindness and support. Rest In Peace friend. We were lucky to have you in our lives. https://t.co/0AFYwS5YwO
This is such an incredible loss. My heart goes out to his family, his friends and all the people who were lucky to be around him. https://t.co/SrmU4idgMf
To my friend and mentor Craig Zadan, you have left us much too soon. I thank you for your generosity and passion as a producer, your desire to bring out the best in artists. I will miss you. pic.twitter.com/3rLJc8HH5m
Incredibly sad. Grew up reading his book "Sondheim & Co." and have more recently appreciated the way he brought musicals to the masses. https://t.co/obC6vk0R3b
— Tim Federle (@TimFederle) August 22, 2018
We're so sad to hear about the passing of the incredible producer Craig Zadan. We honored Craig at the #GLAADawards in 2012 for accelerating acceptance for LGBTQ people through his work. Our love goes out to his partner Elwood Hopkins and his producing partner Neil Meron. pic.twitter.com/OAfaXtOmUX
— GLAAD (@glaad) August 22, 2018