Henry Capanna, former partner and CEO for Santa Monica-based prodco Go Go Luckey, has passed away from cancer at the age of 43.
Capanna, a native of San Fernando Valley, first entered the entertainment business via positions with Triumph Pictures and Ellen M. Krass Productions. He then joined the staff at literary agency Broder Kurland Webb Uffner, where he remained for seven years, moving from the mailroom to agent status under the mentorship of Elliot Webb.
Leaving the agency a couple of years before its acquisition by ICM, Capanna became a partner in the LA-based, indie feature film company The Syndicate. From there, he was reunited with his former clients at Broder, Gary and Julie Auerbach, founders of Go Go Luckey Entertainment. The prodco behind MTV hit Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, The Jacksons: Next Generation for Lifetime and Paranormal State for A&E brought Capanna on as vice president in 2007, and from there he was upped to chief operating officer in 2008, and then, partner and CEO.
After close to eight years with Go Go Luckey, following the acquisition of the prodco by Eclipse TV in 2015, Capanna moved into the real estate business with his wife Mia. He is survived by her and their daughter, Sofia.
In lieu of flowers, the family is accepting donations to Sofia Capanna’s education fund via www.venmo.com/capannaeducationalfund or check to Sofia Capanna – 5435 Balboa Blvd. #202, Encino, CA 91316.
Realscreen reached out to friends and colleagues of Capanna’s for their remembrances. Among them, Russ McCarroll, longtime friend and SVP of development and production at Discovery Channel, offered his thoughts.
“Henry was the rare friendship for me that superseded the business,” he told Realscreen. “He was larger than life and always managed to put a smile on everyone’s face minutes after entering a room. He was equally as adept at negotiating a deal as he was walking talent through the new experience of television production or teaching a younger producer about how to craft a story.
“He was a loyal and remarkable man and I’m sorry everyone didn’t get a chance to know him better.”
Another longtime friend, Ilan Arboleda, co-founder of feature film and TV production company CreativeChaos VMG (This Changes Everything, Casting By), recalled first meeting Capanna. “Before I had ever met Henry, he was a legend,” he said. “In college on the East Coast, I was told of his legendary high school exploits by his childhood friend Allen who had coincidentally been my best friend in college. When I arrived to LA in the summer of 1997, I was told by my friend David Berman that I had to meet his best friend Henry (not realizing it was the same person) who would one day run Hollywood.
“When I was ushered into his office, I naturally assumed that he owned and ran the company – he had such a commanding presence. He immediately passed off a few names of people I could call to get my first job in the business. And thus began one of my closest, longest and dearest friendships.
“For the next 22 years, as his career soared, he was always helping me whenever he could. He’d throw me a piece of business when I was consulting or make a meaningful introduction when I was producing. We were next door neighbors for four years, and during that time, there was never a night I wasn’t invited to dinner or a drink in his home with his family. He was very often my consigliere – advising me on every twist and turn of my career. And when I had to close my company in 2008, when it mattered most, when I needed him the most, he took me to lunch at Marie Callender’s, and over a big lunch he told me to ‘quit my suffering’ and offered me a job. For three years I worked for Henry at Go Go Luckey, not because the company needed me in the least, but because I needed them. That’s how generous he was.
“Henry was quite simply a mensch. Everything I do now at CreativeChaos is because of the lessons I learned from Henry, his tutelage, and his friendship. And in the end, I know that he knew that – that he had left a profound impact on me and on the world. I will miss him so much.”
Olivia de Courson-Weber, senior video producer at Apple, shared the following: “Henry was a friend, a mentor and to many he was family. He was a man of charisma, generosity and full of love. Henry was influential in the early part of my career where I was lucky to have worked for him for five years. He became a close family friend and in 2017 I was blessed to have him officiate my wedding.
“I’ll forever hold those memories close to my heart. Miss you already, Hank.”
Jeana Dill, director of original programming at Oxygen Media, also paid tribute to her friendship with Capanna.
“Henry Capanna gave me my first paying job in the business and he always had my back after that,” she told Realscreen. “I left Go Go Luckey after about a year of working there to move to New York. It was about a year later that Henry called me out of the blue and said he was in Paris with someone and that I needed to email them right away because they had a job for me. This phone call is what got me my first network job and put me on the track I am on today.
“Henry took care of everyone; he always made us feel protected and like we were family,” she added. “It didn’t matter how much time passed between seeing him, he always made you feel good and like he really cared about you. I was lucky enough to see him last fall at a screening for a friend, and I remember leaving thinking how great he seemed — he was really happy and I am grateful he had the last few years to really spend time focusing on his family.
“I will miss him. We lost a really good person.”