Jeff Cooney, creative director/co-owner of EUE/Screen Gems died Monday in Westchester, NY. Cooney was executive producer of the Emmy-nominated National Geographic “Genius” series on Albert Einstein as well as the upcoming feature in the series, “Picasso.” Cooney, 60, had been struggling with intense pain associated with small fiber neuropathy.
A director and producer, Jeff Cooney started his life in front of the camera as a child actor for Cream of Wheat and appeared in more than 50 national television commercials. His father, George Cooney, was a Columbia Pictures executive prior to purchasing EUE/Screen Gems in 1982. Jeff Cooney, the oldest of four children, served as executive producer and creative director at a division called EUE/Sokolow focused on content development.
A stellar athlete, Cooney played football at Bronxville High School and at College of the Holy Cross. He lettered in football at Holy Cross and majored in English Literature. After graduation, he started his own production company with a desire to work as a director. Jeff later joined EUE/Screen Gems as a principal and director. Over the next 30 years Cooney would travel the globe directing commercials for clients such as UPS, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, KFC and Visa. He pursued his passion for football in his free time, serving on the board of the National Football Foundation.
In 2010, Cooney and television producer Sam Sokolow founded EUE/Sokolow to develop, produce and sell programming. “We have created an environment where we have complete freedom to pick and choose the material we want to develop and sell to networks,” Cooney said at the time. EUE/Sokolow has worked on numerous projects for networks that include HBO, ABC and NBC as well as National Geographic. The company has attracted top talent, developing projects with Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas and Lisa Ling, directors such as Linda Mendoza and showrunners such as Caryn Lucas, John Lehr, Nancy Hower and Blair Singer.
EUE/Screen Gems COO Chris Cooney, who worked with his brother as an executive producer for “Genius” and as co-owner of EUE/Screen Gems, says his brother will be remembered for his selflessness. “He put others first in a business that could be intensely competitive,” Chris Cooney said. Jeff Cooney was also dedicated to mentoring high school students in underserved areas and was deeply involved with a program called PLAY IT SMART.
Sharon Cooney Shuttleworth, Jeff’s sister and fellow co-owner of EUE/Screen Gems remembers the gift Jeff was to his family and others. “Everyone who met him fell in love with him. He cared so much about people and was so giving of his time and his heart. He will be missed and lovingly remembered every day,” she says.
John Cooney, Jeff’s brother, says, “Jeff will be remembered as a mentor to many, including myself, being five years younger. He gave many a kid their first jobs in film and television. Jeff was always a role model for excellence on the set. Whether as a childhood actor or later as a director, Jeff was a pro with a huge heart.”
Cooney is survived by his wife, Anja M. Cooney of Bronxville, New York and his children Nicholas and George Cooney. He is also survived by his parents, Cynthia Rose and George Cooney of Bronxville, New York; his brother Chris Cooney of Chappaqua, New York and his wife Charlotte Lovschal Cooney and children Alison and Erik Cooney; his sister Sharon Cooney Shuttleworth of Manalapan, Florida, and her children Will and Margaret Shuttleworth and her husband Guy Pepper; his brother John Cooney of Boulder, Colorado and wife Wendy Ewen Cooney and children Lindsey and Kelly Cooney.