Tom Rothman Remembers Tom Sherak and ‘The Vigil': He Was Genius at Predicting Grosses

Tom Rothman Remembers Tom Sherak and 'The Vigil': He Was Genius at Predicting Grosses

The two execs worked closely with each other at Fox before each moved on to other endeavors

Tom Rothman met Tom Sherak after he moved to Los Angeles in 1986. He promptly forgot the word no.

“Nancy Reagan may have said, ‘Just say no,’ but you couldn't say no to Tom,” Rothman told TheWrap about his friend of almost 30 years after Sherak's death Tuesday. “You couldn't. You loved to say yes to him.”

AFI FEST 2012 Presented By Audi - "Life Of Pi" Premiere - Red CarpetRothman (right) began working with the ebullient, joyful Sherak at Fox in 1994, and Sherak was instrumental in the launch of Fox Searchlight. Though both Rothman and Sherak eventually left Fox, the specialty division lives on, releasing Oscar winners and box office successes each year.

Also read: Hollywood Mourns Tom Sherak: Studios Chiefs, Filmmakers and Mayor Eric Garcetti Pay Tribute

Yet when Rothman thinks of Sherak, who would go on to lead the Academy, he remembers Friday nights in Sherak's office for a ritual known as “the vigil.”

Theater owners would phone in their grosses, and Sherak would guess the movie's weekend gross down to the dollar.

“He was a genius at it,” Rothman said. “Eventually the vigil got replaced by the computer, but I remember those nights sitting in his office, him sharing the joy when the news was good and always being gracious when the news was bad.

“He was a generous and selfless man.”

Also read: Tom Sherak, L.A. Film Czar and Former Academy President, Dead at 68

Studio chiefs, filmmakers and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences leaders all paid tribute to Sherak Tuesday as word of his death circulated through Hollywood.

Jim Gianopulos, Chairman and CEO, 20th Century Fox Film, was among those honoring the former executive there.

“He will be missed but never forgotten,” Gianopulos said.

“Star Wars” mastermind George Lucas, based at the studio for many years, said Sherak's “boundless enthusiasm for ‘Star Wars’ earned him an honorary Jedi master title.”

“He embodied the heart and soul of movies — entertainment and showmanship –  timeless values in our business,” “Avator” director Jim Cameron said. “There was always a sparkle in his eye when it was time to release a film, and you knew that it was going to be a grand adventure playing out on a global stage.”