Long Island filmmaker John Fasano, 52, dies


John Fasano, a prolific TV and movie screenwriter, originally from Port Washington, died July 19, 2014 at 52. Photo Credit: Justin Lubin

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Filmmaker John Fasano, whose childhood 8-mm movies spurred his voyage from Port Washington to Hollywood, died in his sleep Saturday at his home in Studio City, California, his representative Manfred Westphal confirmed. The cause was heart failure. Fasano was 52.

A writer, producer and director, Fasano had more than 40 feature-film and prime-time TV credits, cowriting the screenplays for such high-profile projects as "Another 48 Hrs." (1990), which starred Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, and "Universal Soldier: The Return" (1999), starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. His script for the TNT telefilm "The Hunchback," starring Mandy Patinkin, earned a Writers Guild Award nomination in 1998.

In 2005, he co-adapted the Robert B. Parker novel "Stone Cold" as the first of eight successful CBS TV movies starring Tom Selleck as small-town police chief Jesse Stone.

Yet his heart never strayed far from the monster movies he and his friends would shoot all over Port Washington, using armatured clay and Aurora models like a real-life version of J.J. Abrams' 2011 film "Super 8," said his sister Hollywood casting director Felicia Fasano.

He directed horror cult movies "Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare" (1987) and "Black Roses" (1988), and created and wrote the Sony/Crackle horror-comedy Web series "Woke Up Dead" (2009), starring Jon Heder, Josh Gad and Krysten Ritter.

Born Aug. 24, 1961, in Bethpage and raised in Port Washington, Fasano got his first taste of moviemaking as a child, when his father, who had grown up with filmmaker John Cassavetes, brought the boy to the hometown set of Cassavetes' "Husbands" (1970). Inspired to make his own 8-mm movies, he learned enough to work on industrial films for IBM while still attending Paul D. Schreiber High School.

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While studying at SUNY Purchase, he was employed as the film research editor for the magazine TV Cable Week. Upon graduation, Fasano, also an artist, illustrated and art directed for magazines and created artwork for Roberta Findlay's exploitation gem "Tenement," aka "Slaughter in the South Bronx" (1985).

After moving to Los Angeles, Fasano sold his first spec script, "Tailgunners," to Morgan Creek Productions within four months, launching his Hollywood career as a screenwriter, script doctor and screenwriting guest lecturer at the American Film Institute and the Writers Boot Camp.

But he remained, said his sister, "such a Port-proud guy. He kept in touch with everybody -- his teachers, his friends. He was a Long Island guy all the way." In Hollywood, "he helped everybody, hooked everybody up with jobs. If you had a certain talent, he would guide you."

In addition to his sister Felicia of Los Angeles, he is survived by his wife, Edie, his high-school sweetheart whom he married a year and a half ago; his children, John Cody of Los Angeles and Lucia of Portland, Oregon; his father, John Fasano Sr., of Toms River, New Jersey; and another sister, Frances Davis, also of Toms River.

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