Ted Demme, film and television director, died Sunday from unknown causes after playing a celebrity basketball game at the Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California. He was 37 years old.
Paramedics rushed Demme to the UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Although he died of a cardiac arrest, the exact cause of death has not yet been determined. According to Lieutenant Cheryl MacWillie of the Los Angeles County Coroner”s Office.
Demme most recently directed “Blow” (2001), starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz. The film is a glamourized but gritty and tragic biography of George Jung, the man who had a large hand in establishing the cocaine market in the United States in the 1970″s.
In 1999, Demme directed “Life” with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, as well as the short-lived and highly underrated television series “Action,” starring Jay Mohr.
He also directed “Beautiful Girls” (1996), starring Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Mira Sorvino, Uma Thurman and Michael Rappaport. This comedy concerns a piano player (Hutton) who comes home to his small hometown to face his past and his friends, most of whom are having serious crises with their love lives. This surprisingly poignant and well-written film was also one of the first appearances of Natalie Portman, who had made her first appearances in “Heat” and “The Professional” (1995, 1994).
In 1994, Demme directed the hilarious and dysfunctional “The Ref” with Dennis Leary, Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis. This film about a holiday season kidnapping and a family from Hell is one of the funniest Christmas movies ever, and illustrates Spacey”s comic proficiency before he dove in with “American Beauty.”
Demme also directed Dennis Leary”s comedy specials, “Lock “N Load” and the now legendary “No Cure for Cancer,” a powder-keg of sardonic, biting comedy and indignant anger that is a staple of home video viewing.
His other directing credits include “Who”s the Man?” (1993) and “Monument Ave.” (1999).
Demme also directed several episodes of the television drama “Homocide: Life on the Streets” as well as “Robert Altman”s Gun.” He was one of the producers of the 1998 thriller “Rounders,” starring Matt Damon, Edward Norton and John Malkovich.