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‘Django Unchained’ Production Designer J. Michael Riva Dead At 63

The Weinstein Company

At this point a number of you have watched the official first trailer for Quentin Tarantino‘s latest movie ‘Django Unchained.’ One of the noticeable highlights of the trailer was the production design. Put simply, it looks amazing. That’s an example of the work of J. Michael Riva, an award winning production designer who unfortunately passed on today at the age of 63.

It’s always difficult to see a great person in the industry pass on, but it’s hardest when that person’s work is treated as invisible, as only a fabric in a great work. The name J. Michael Riva may not have the same name recognition as a Tarantino or Tarantino’s current cinematographer Robert Richardson, but you would recognize his production design work in a flurry of films that span for decades. Among the many movies he’s worked on include ‘The Color Purple,’ ‘The Goonies,’ the ‘Lethal Weapon’ series, ‘A Few Good Men’ and even the upcoming ‘The Amazing Spider-Man.’

Riva was born in New York and came from an entertainment background. His father was a set designer for Broadway and his grandmother was the great star Marlene Dietrich. Riva was nominated for his work back in 1985 for ‘The Color Purplem,’ and was in charge of production design for the 79th Annual Academy Awards – which won him an Emmy. He will be missed.

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