Greg Coote, a successful entertainment executive and a passionate supporter of the arts in local schools, died on June 27 at the age of 72.
Friends described Coote as a man of action who helped support local arts programs for more than a decade.
In 2001, the State of California, once again, cut funding to public schools and the Santa Monica-Malibu schools were in danger of losing music and arts programs. After years of parents raising money to save the arts, Coote decided a more permanent solution had to be found. He realized the creation of an endowment could ensure that music, arts, dance and drama could continue to be a part of the school curriculum in perpetuity.
“So proud to call Greg a friend and mentor. His deep concern for all youth access to the arts regardless of family circumstance was so amazing at a local level given his international prominence. He truly cared for one and all,” said John Deasy, former SMMUSD Superintendent and current Superintendent of LAUSD.
Working with the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, Coote formed and co-chaired the For The Arts endowment campaign from 2001-2006. Despite the large time commitment, Greg embraced the effort with grace and enthusiasm.
“Greg was always positive and encouraging, always dedicated,” said Ralph Mechur, current SMMUSD School Board Vice-President, then a For The Arts committee member. “He was determined to make a difference and inspired people to donate so that the Education Foundation could bring arts programs to our students.”
Coote’s dedication to the arts could also been seen in his professional work.
Born in Australia, Greg started his career in the mailroom of Village Roadshow, working his way from the ground up to become Managing Director of Roadshow, where he played a key role in developing Australia’s fledgling film industry. He left Roadshow to become the Managing Director of the Ten Network and was credited with leading it from last to first place in the ratings. He then joined Columbia Pictures in Los Angeles as President of its International Theatrical division, where he was responsible for worldwide acquisition, marketing and distribution. Coote rejoined Village Roadshow when it became publicly listed and became the founding President and CEO of Village Roadshow in Los Angeles, forging a production deal with Warner Bros. that exists to this day. He was a trusted fixture in both Hollywood and Asia-Pacific circles; he chaired China Lion Film Distribution and ScreenSingapore; served as a non-executive director of Eros International; partnered with Leon Tan in the Malaysian-based DragonSlate; and made Larrikin Entertainment, the business he formed with David Calvert-Jones, his Century City-based development and production company until his death.
During his tenure at Dune Entertainment and Village Roadshow, the companies co-financed James Cameron’s Avatar and the Wachowski siblings’ The Matrix, respectively.
He will be deeply missed by his girlfriend of seven years, Amanda Price, his brothers, Alan and Paul, his four children, Rebecca, Samantha, Suzanne and Diane, and his four grandchildren, Alex, Toby, Luca and Edwina. He is also survived and mourned by his first wife Janice Mayo, and his second wife Carol Olson Coote. The son of Douglas and Dorothy Coote, he was a proud member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Friends said Coote was an extraordinary leader and advocate for the arts in the public schools. He was a generous and strong individual and his enthusiasm for arts education encouraged many people in the community to join the effort. A gift in his memory will acknowledge and continue his efforts and passion for the arts. To make a donation in Greg’s memory, please send contributions to: Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (or SMMEF), 1645 16th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404 and write Greg Coote in the memo line. Or, donate online at www.smmef.org/donate and enter Greg Coote in the acknowledgement box.
Greg’s funeral will take place on Wednesday, July 2, 1 p.m. at Santa Monica’s Woodlawn Cemetery, 1847 14th St. A celebration of Greg’s life will take place on July 122 at 6 p.m. at 1010 Alta Ave.