Former Motown CEO blazed trail

George Jackson set trends in music and film

George Jackson, who helped Motown Recording Co. restore some of its luster after a string of disappointments, died suddenly of a stroke in February. He was 42.

Most recently, Jackson, the former film executive and Motown head who produced successful hits in both film and music, had partnered with Frank Cooper to begin UBO (Urban Box Office Network). His interest in film and music and his entrepreneurial aspirations took him a long way from his beginnings as a Paramount Television production assistant in 1982.

UBO declined to comment officially but David Jaye, director of marketing for UBO, was saddened by Jackson’s passing and said that he had been a very good friend.

Jackson was tapped by Motown Chairman Clarence Avant to become the record company’s new president and CEO in November 1997. Motown, which suffered declining sales and weathered numerous internal shake-ups-including the firing of Jackson’s predecessor, Andre Harrell-looked to Jackson to restore its image. Motown’s roster includes such stars as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Gill and Queen Latifah. The record-breaking success of the R&B group Boyz II Men saw Motown through in the turbulent early 1990s. Music executives said Jackson’s blend of film and music expertise was an asset in the pop and R&B business, where videos and other visual mediums have become increasing significant.

Prior to joining Motown, Jackson formed Jackson-McHenry Entertainment, a production and talent management company, with partner Doug McHenry. Later known as Elephant Walk Entertainment, the company teamed up with the UPN television network to produce such shows as Malcolm and Eddie. Together, Jackson and McHenry produced the movie hits New Jack City (1991), Kid ‘N Play’s House Party II (1991) and House Party III (1994), Jason’s Lyric (1994) and the Martin Lawrence comedy A Thin Line Between Love and Hate (1996).

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