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PASSINGS: James Paratore

James Paratore, TV executive who helped launch Ellen DeGeneres' show, dies at 58

May 30, 2012

James Paratore

TV executive helped launch Ellen DeGeneres' show

Prominent television production executive James Paratore, 58, died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack while cycling in France.

As president of the Warner Bros. Telepictures Productions unit from 1992 through 2006, Paratore was involved in the creation of some of television's most successful franchises, including daytime talk shows hosted by Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres as well as the reality hit "The Bachelor," entertainment news magazine "Extra" and the courtroom show "Judge Mathis." He also was instrumental in creating the popular gossip website along with Harvey Levin, who is the face of both the site and its sister television show.

Although Paratore left Warner Bros. in 2006 to start his own company called paraMedia, he remained associated with the studio. At the time of his death, Paratore was an executive producer of both "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and the "TMZ" television program.

"He has left an indelible mark not only on our company's success but on each of us who worked with him during the past 26 years," Bruce Rosenblum, president of the Warner Bros. Television Group, said in a statement announcing Paratore's death.

Paratore had a sharp eye for talent and knowing what would appeal to big audiences. When he developed a talk show for DeGeneres, it was seen as something of a risk. DeGeneres had become a controversial figure for some after coming out as a lesbian. Paratore bet correctly that despite a backlash against her from some conservative groups, she could deliver ratings and attract mainstream advertisers. Now "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" is a staple of daytime television.

A Louisiana native, Paratore graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and then started his career in local television as a programming executive at stations in Louisiana and Florida. In 1987, he joined Telepictures as a vice president of production.

—Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports

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