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December 05, 2008

Producer William Finnegan Dies Hawaii Five-O, Many Telefilms December 5, 2008

William R. Finnegan, a producer whose credits included the television series Hawaii Five-0, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and The Fabulous Baker Boys, has died. He was 80.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Finnegan, who was nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards, died November 28 of Parkinson’s disease at his home in Sag Harbor, N.Y., according to his son Michael.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Finnegan-Pinchuk Co., the Studio City-based company he started with his wife, Patricia, and their partner, Sheldon Pinchuk, was one of the leading suppliers of network and cable television movies.

Among the company’s noteworthy titles were The Dollmaker (1984), with Jane Fonda, and Amos (1985), with Kirk Douglas. Others included Hoover (1987), with Treat Williams, The Atlanta Child Murders (1985), with Morgan Freeman, World War III (1982), with Rock Hudson, The $5.20 an Hour Dream (1980), with Linda Lavin, and The Ordeal of Patty Hearst (1979), with Dennis Weaver.

Born June 29, 1928, in Kansas City, Mo., Finnegan served in the Navy after World War II. He started his career as a newsman in 1950, writing for the Hollywood Citizen News, the Associated Press and CBS. He went on to work in television and feature films as an assistant director and production manager.

Feature films he produced or co-produced include Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971), North Shore (1987), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), White Palace (1990), The Babe (1992), CrissCross (1992), Reality Bites (1994) and Ed (1996).

Finnegan, who also produced the television series The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd (1987) and Big Hawaii (1977), was an active Television Academy member and was the first chairman of the Academy Foundation’s Educational Programs & Services Committee.

“That’s how I got onto the (Education) committee myself,” recalls retired director Bruce Bilson, who served on the committee for many years. “He brought me onto it."

"It was very helpful to have somebody involved who was in production," Bilson explained. "(Finnegan) knew what departments there were that we could provide student internships for, and what categories of awards that should be given for the College Television Awards.”

Bilson collaborated with Finnegan numerous times, particularly on Hawaii Five-0. “He was a good friend of mine,” he says. “He was the kind of producer every director loves to work with. He knew what was going on. He understood.”

Both men were avid sailors and, coincidentally, owned sailboats named Arriba, Finnegan’s in Hawaii and Bilson’s in Marina del Rey.

In addition to his wife, Patricia, Finnegan is survived by two sons, one daughter, a brother and three grandchildren.

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