Peter Caranicas, Longtime Variety Editor Known for His Expertise in Production and Technology, Dies at 80

Peter Caranicas, a Variety editor for 16 years who was respected for his expertise in production and technology, died Sunday in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 80.

Caranicas covered film and TV production, the birth of cable and satellite TV and much more over his long career as a writer and editor at Variety and other entertainment business publications. For years, Caranicas spearheaded Variety‘s annual Legal Impact Report as well as its year-end Dealmakers issue.

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The affable and level-headed editor was remembered by his colleagues for his wide knowledge of technology and its impact on the entertainment business. He was well traveled and worldly, having lived and worked in Europe, Asia and Latin America. He was a graduate of Yale University and the London School of Economics.

“Peter Caranicas was the consummate professional, an entertainment business journalist who passionately cared about the industry he covered and who was endlessly fascinated by the bold, dynamic characters he so perceptively chronicled,” said Steven Gaydos, Variety‘s senior VP of global content. “More than that, he was a truly beloved figure to all who knew him, a lively intellectual with a moral compass and a gentleman at heart. He is truly irreplaceable and will be missed by all of his Variety colleagues.”

In 2019, Caranicas was honored with the Hollywood Professional Assn.’s Legacy Award at the organization’s gala at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Though he wasn’t able to attend, he sent a message to attendees, saying, “The world was different when I first started writing about the business back in the 1970s in New York. On TV we had a choice of three networks, plus PBS. People living in the sticks or in skyscrapers could receive those stations by cable for about $5 per month — so I’ll cry now. The NAB show was anchored by two giant broadcast corporations that no longer exist — RCA and Ampex. There wasn’t a Fox, or CNN, MTV, no internet.

“And now, here we are on the cusp of even more change in structure. The Chinese proverb ‘May you live in interesting times’ was originally meant as a curse, but for everyone in this room, it’s a blessing, with exploding technology always presenting us with more business and creative opportunities,” Caranicas said.

He continued that sentiment in his LinkedIn profile, writing “I love this business and the smart people who work in it. We’re in the middle of the most influential industry on the planet — one that in the right hands can speak truth and contribute to positive social change. It’s a responsibility, and it’s fun.”

Carolyn Giardina, Variety‘s senior entertainment technology and crafts editor who worked closely with Caranicas, paid tribute to her mentor at the HPA event. “Even if you haven’t met Peter, I’m certain your career has been touched by him. For four decades, he’s shared his wisdom and insights in leading trade publications reporting on everything from the birth of satellite broadcasting and cable to the rise of the internet,” she said. “His work has tremendous impact as he wisely identifies the trends and interprets what they mean for those who dedicate their careers to this field.”

Born Aug. 26, 1943, in war-torn Athens, Caranicas’ family relocated to Washington, D.C., in 1947, where his father worked for Greece’s diplomatic service and the International Monetary Fund. Caranicas attended French Lycée schools in Washington and New York before moving on to Yale and the London School of Economics.

After launching Videography magazine in 1976, Caranicas served as editor of Millimeter magazine from 1982 to 1986. He moved on to become editor at World Screen and Shoot, as well as publisher of Film & Video. Among the other publications he worked for were Video Publisher, View, BME, TVB and Below the Line. He joined Variety in 2008 as managing editor of features.

Survivors include his wife, Manny Zhang; daughter, Devon Caranicas; son, Kendrick Caranicas; granddaughter, Philippa Nelly Young; a brother, Paul Caranicas, and his former wife, Colby Kelly.


Here is a column from the June 1, 2010, edition of Daily Variety that showcases Peter Caranicas at his best — explaining how advancements in production technology are transforming film and television.

From the June 1, 2010, edition of <em>Daily Variety</em>
From the June 1, 2010, edition of Daily Variety

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