Don Ohlmeyer, Notable Sports And Entertainment Producer, Dead At 72 -

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Former Sports and Entertainment Producer Don Ohlmeyer (screenshot from Sports Illustrated video)

Don Ohlmeyer, Notable Sports And Entertainment Producer, Dead At 72

Don Ohlmeyer, one of the most iconic television producers and programmers of his generation who worked in both sports and entertainment and was one of the original producers of Monday Night Football, died on Sunday in Indian Wells, California, at the age of 72.

Sports Producer Don Ohlmeyer Death News

Ohlmeyer served as one of MNF’s producers during its heyday in the 1970s, and also helped lead NBC to No. 1 in prime time in the 1990s by producing shows like “Seinfeld” and “ER. He joined NBC Sports as executive producer and president in 1993 after spending ten years at ABC Sports. Eventually, Ohlmeyer also produced his own company, Ohlmeyer Communications, to produce sports and entertainment programs.

“When I got there, I used to say, there was the smell of death,” he told the Archive of American Television of NBC in 2004.

During his tenure at ABC — which began in 1967 — Ohlmeyer served as producer and director of three Olympic broadcasts, produced ABC’s Monday Night Football and worked extensively on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Ohlmeyer then joined NBC as executive producer of sports from 1977 through 1982 and returned to the network as president in 1993. There, he oversaw company’s entertainment-related businesses, including NBC Entertainment, NBC Studios and NBC Enterprises.

“Don Ohlmeyer was an unsurpassed creative force in all forms of television as well as a brilliant and visionary executive — a truly unique combination,” ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement. “His involvement with ESPN spans many years, and we are unquestionably better for it in ways that go well beyond his impact on Monday Night Football. He was a believer while sitting on our board in the early days, and as an effective ombudsman, he made us think. He leaves an indelible imprint on how millions consume entertainment to this day.”

Among the other shows that helped NBC go from third to first in prime-time ratings during Ohlmeyer’s tenure as president were “Friends,” “Homicide,” “Frasier,” “Providence,” “Will and Grace” and “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.”

“Don Ohlmeyer was a towering figure in sports and entertainment who had an indelible impact both on NBC and our industry,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said in a statement. “His legacy will live on not only because he is directly responsible for some of the biggest hits in television — ‘Friends,’ ‘ER’ and ‘Will & Grace’ to name a few — but also because he brought NBC to a new level of classy, sophisticated programming of the highest quality which we all still aspire to achieve today.”

Ohlmeyer also created the sports anthology series “SportsWorld and also served as executive producer for the made-for-television movie “The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story.” He also introduced innovative production techniques to NBC.

In March 2000, Ohlmeyer returned for one season as executive producer of ABC’s Monday Night Football, which at the time boasted announcers Al Michaels, Dennis Miller and Dan Fouts. Ohlemeyer then served as ombudsman — a person who is charged with investigating and addressing private individuals’ complaints against public officials — for ESPN from 2009 to 2011.

Ohlmeyer won 16 Emmys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, and was also a member of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife, the former Linda Jonsson, who is called L. J.; his sons Drew, Chris, Todd and Kemper; and nine grandchildren.


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Written by Pablo Mena

Writer and assistant editor for NY Giants and Rangers fan. Film and TV enthusiast (especially Harry Potter and The Office) and lover of foreign languages and cultures.