Neil Patrick Harris, Kevin Bacon Remember Producer Craig Zadan: ‘He Had Music and Dance in His Soul’

“He’s been a friend my entire adult life, championed me to host the Oscars, brought musical theatre back to TV,” Harris says

87th Oscars: Producer Neil Meron, host Neil Patrick Harris, Producer Craig Zadan (AMPAS)
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Neil Patrick Harris, Kevin Bacon and Debra Messing were among the Hollywood stars who paid tribute to Emmy-winning producer Craig Zadan on Tuesday night.

Zadan, who was behind the productions of numerous Academy Awards telecasts, TV projects and Broadway musicals, died at the age of 69 due to complications related to shoulder replacement surgery.

“He’s been a friend my entire adult life, championed me to host the Oscars, brought musical theatre back to TV. A wonderful, kind spirit,” Harris wrote on Twitter in remembrance.

The “How I Met Your Mother” star became the first openly gay man to host the Academy Awards in 2015.

“He had music and dance in his soul. And when people are dancing and singing the world is a better place. RIP Craig and Cut Loose!” tweeted Bacon, who had his breakout role in Zadan’s 1984 hit “Footloose.”

Along with his producing partner, Neil Meron, Zadan produced the Oscars telecasts from 2013 to 2015, earning an Emmy nomination for the show all three years.

The duo was also behind the Oscar-winning film adaptation of “Chicago,” Broadway revivals of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Promises, Promises,” as well as the NBC musical drama “Smash.”

Zadan, alongside Meron, was also the producer of NBC’s recent string of live musicals, including “The Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan,” “The Wiz,” “Hairspray” and this year’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.” They were next set to produce the live adaptation of “Bye Bye Birdie” starring Jennifer Lopez.

Messing credited Zadan and Meron for being “responsible for one of the most meaningful professional experiences in my career. They brought the magic of Broadway to prime time television with SMASH, and for 2 years I felt like I was living in a dream.”

NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt officially announced the news of Zadan’s passing in a network statement earlier on Tuesday, saying: “It is with profound sadness that I am announcing the passing of my dear friend and colleague Craig Zadan, who died of complications following shoulder replacement surgery.

“On behalf of his life partner, Elwood Hopkins, and his producing partner, Neil Meron, we are stunned that the man behind so many incredible film, theatre, and television productions — several of them joyous musicals — was taken away so suddenly.

See the social media tributes below.