Bruce Fretts, longtime critic and entertainment journalist for Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide and other publications, died Friday at age 54.
According to his brother Chris Fretts’ Facebook post, Bruces Fretts had been battling Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS), a rare reaction to certain medications including those that treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions.
During a long and storied career as an entertainment journalist, Fretts worked as a critic for a decade at Entertainment Weekly in the 1990s and later as a writer and editor at TV Guide — where he wrote the “Cheers and Jeers” column on the back page for many years. Since 2014, he served as articles editor for Closer Weekly. In addition, he worked as a freelance writer and interviewer for a variety of outlets, such as the New York Times, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and Emmy magazine.
He is survived by two children, Jed and Olive.
Tributes for Fretts soon poured in on social media.
“RIP to Bruce Fretts who wrote thoughtfully and passionately about film and TV and was a joy to read,” NBC late-night host Seth Meyers wrote.
“I am so shocked and heartbroken,” former EW film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote. “I can still hear his laugh, and feel his pleasure in writing about the pop culture he loved so much.
New York Times culture editor Gilbert Cruz also paid tribute: “Bruce Fretts took joy in writing about movies and TV and it was a joy to have him write for the Arts section. This is terribly sad news.”
“He was a consummate professional and a kind soul,” the SAG-AFTRA Foundation wrote in a statement.
RIP to Bruce Fretts who wrote thoughtfully and passionately about film and TV and was a joy to read.
— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) July 4, 2020
We are deeply saddened to hear about the loss of our good friend and long-time Conversations moderator @brucefretts. He was a consummate professional and a kind soul. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/3f5WjCEkZI
— SAG-AFTRA Foundation (@sagaftraFOUND) July 4, 2020
Send your warm thoughts to the family of the wonderful @brucefretts, who died this morning (7-3-2020). He wrote huge, brilliant profiles for @nytimesarts, was a critic at Entertainment Weekly and editor at Closer magazine. Just a swell guy and smart journalist.
— LinerElaine (@LinerElaine) July 3, 2020
I am so shocked and heartbroken. I can still hear his laugh, and feel his pleasure in writing about the pop culture he loved so much. My heart goes out to Jed and Olive.
— Lisa Schwarzbaum (@lisaschwarzbaum) July 3, 2020
(link fixed) Anyone who knew Bruce Fretts knew how much he loved his kids. I'm sure anything you could give would be appreciated. https://t.co/O5mNr6cKMf
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) July 4, 2020
Very sad to hear that @BruceFretts has passed. A lovely man and terrific writer, and a friend to us @NBCSVU.
— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) July 3, 2020
RIP @BruceFretts. A great critic and great guy who I had the privilege of working with at Entertainment Weekly. We also shared a passion for a certain Washington football franchise. Too soon pal.
— Joe Flint (@JBFlint) July 3, 2020