Like many others I was touched and impressed by Kim Masters’ farewell piece about Brad Grey, “30 Years of Humor, Ruthless Ambition and a ‘No B.S.’ Relationship.” Honest and smoothly written. The best parts are the beginning and the ending, both of which allude to the last few months and especially the looming banshee:
“Like many who knew him, I was too shocked to formulate thoughts [when he passed]. He died so suddenly, so young at 59, and had seemed in good shape just recently. My first impulse was to call him and demand, ‘What the hell, Brad?’
“[Grey] had known he was sick for a long time but told almost no one. It seems his higher-ups at Viacom didn’t know. I hear Brad may have confided only in Bob Daly, his friend and discreet adviser, and confidant Lorne Michaels.
“I told Brad once or twice recently that he sounded tired, but he deflected that. On a couple of occasions, I thought that he was slightly slurring his words, and I wondered whether he might have had a drink to cope with the stress of Paramount’s terrible box-office run and the growing threat of being fired. But he was still shrewd and funny, and I didn’t think much of it, which obviously was how he wanted it to be.
“With a change in regime at Viacom and losses mounting, Brad insisted for a time that he would be perfectly fine with being paid to go away. Certainly he wasn’t telling the truth. He waged a ferocious fight to keep his job. He was sick, but maybe he still hoped he could live a while longer. Or maybe he hoped to die as chairman of Paramount Pictures.
“He called me when he was fired in February and said he was going to take his time to figure out his next move. Then I didn’t hear from him for a while, and that was weird. ‘Are you still with us?’ I emailed on April 24. ‘Barely,’ he replied. ‘Call you when we return, end of the week.’ I thought he must be on vacation.
“He didn’t call, so on May 8, I tried again: ‘You’re quiet.’ No answer. On May 12, I emailed him one last time: ‘Are you alive?’
“Two days later, he wasn’t.”
The only thing missing is that part that alludes to Grey having experienced that shattering perception of order and clarity that comes to all men who suddenly find themselves on the gallows. (The exact quote is “the clarity of mind that comes to a man standing on the gallows is wonderful.”)