Frederick Schneier, Viacom Executive and Producer, Dies at 95

Frederick Schneier, an entertainment industry veteran of more than 45 years, died on Sept. 15 in his Los Angeles home. He was 95.

Schneier most prominently served as an executive at Viacom, where he helped to develop Showtime Networks in the 1980s and later became president and CEO of Viacom Pictures.

Schneier was born on May 31, 1927 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He served in the U.S. Army and eventually attended New York University to study business with an emphasis on marketing. He met his wife of 67 years, Joyce, shortly after he graduated from NYU and the couple married in 1955.

His career in film and television kicked off in 1958 when he and his mentor, Robert C. Manby, founded Showcorporation of America, an international distributor of film and television productions. Schneier then joined the American subsidiary of the London-based Hemdale Leisure Corporation in 1973 as its vice president and chief operating officer, where he helped produce film and television projects such as the Muhammad Ali and George Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” fight in Zaire.

In 1979, Schneier moved to Viacom International as senior vice president, film acquisitions at Viacom Enterprises, which turned into a more than 14-year post. Schneier moved to Los Angeles four years after to support the launch of Showtime Networks, Inc. where he served as vice president, acquisitions before rising to executive vice president, programming. Schneier’s work also helped introduce championship boxing and other high-profile events to Showtime’s regular schedule.

Later in 1989, Viacom International launched Viacom Pictures with Schneier at the helm as president and CEO. Among the titles he was involved in producing were “Paris Trout,” “Taking the Heat” and “The Wrong Man.”

In 1993, Schneier’s own banner, FSA Film Enterprises, was established to serve as a film production company and liaison providing production and marketing services in both the domestic and international film markets. FSA Film Enterprises developed original films such as “Convict Cowboy” starring Jon Voight and Kyle Chandler and “Run for the Dream” starring Lou Gossett Jr. and Charlayne Woodard. Schneier produced these titles with his daughter Diane for Showtime.

Throughout his career, Schneier advocated for nonprofits such as The United Way and served as a board member, chairman and CEO of the American Film Marketing Association.

He is survived by his wife Joyce, daughter Diane, son-in-law Bryce, grandson Alec, along with many nieces, grandniece, grandnephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his daughter Robin.