The agencies and management companies of Hollywood were thin on the ground on Thursday morning. Instead, the pews at the All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills were packed with agents, managers, producers and executives who gathered to remember the larger-than-life producer and manager J.C. Spink, who died on April 18.
He was forty-five. Too young. Producer of 37 films. Co-founder of the management company Bender-Spinks.
A burly, bawdy, garrulous force, Spink seemed to be born for Hollywood. Here’s how he would get people on the phone, instructing his staff: “Just let him know: bad news.”
“Unlike my big brother I did not need to be the center of attention,” said Brian Spinks, who worked for J.C. “Staff meetings at Bender Spink were like the J.C. comedy hour. He loved to hold court.”
Everybody had a hilarious story about J.C. — a name he picked up in college at Bucknell, which stuck.
There was the time he embarrassed them into singing at a party. And the time he was mistaken for Harvey Weinstein, when he went around introducing himself as Harvey’s nephew, Jeff Weinstein. He also picked up a stray dog off the street — a Rottweiler — and brought it to the office.
Said Chris Bender, his former partner: “He was a troublemaker, mischievous beyond words, but he always made it more fun. He could warm the most uncomfortable room with his charm.”
The time he hijacked his friend Chris Fenton from the comfort of his home and drove downtown — in pajamas — to a Duran Duran concert.
He loved to prank people. Once his partner, Bender, pranked him. For years Spink wanted to meet Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft. So Bender called Spink, and posing as Allen, invited him to dinner at the Beverly Hills eatery Mr. Chao’s. When Spink walked in, all his buddies were sitting there wearing stickers that said, “Hello My Name is Paul Allen.”
Spink appreciated the gag.
As a producer, the man’s credits included everything from “The Hangover” to “We’re the Millers” to “Red Eye” to “The Butterfy Effect.”
He had one acting credit, as “Joe the Bus Driver” on an episode of “The Goldbergs.” There has to be a story behind that.
In the audience sat the heart and soul of the movie business: executives like Warner Bros’ Toby Emmerich, producer Greg Silverman, Writers Guild president Howard Rodman, Netflix executive Scott Stuber and many others.
And many of them had to dry tears. Others insisted on smiling.
Friend Roy Lee recalled how passionate Spink was about the movies. They saw “Castaway” together, a movie that for some reason had a deep effect. “He started bawling in the third act, all the way home.”
But through most of the ceremony, peals of laughter echoed up to the roof as memories of Spink coming to meetings in a teal polo and track suit were evoked.
“He reveled in the chaos of the business,” said his brother.
Added Bender: “In honor of J.C., can we turn our phones on?”