Peter Simpson 1943-2007

The veteran producer of The Eleventh Hour and the Prom Night franchise died Tuesday in a Toronto hospital from complications due to lung cancer

Veteran producer Peter Simpson — maker of some 40 movies and TV shows including The Eleventh Hour and the Prom Night franchise — died Tuesday in a Toronto hospital from complications due to lung cancer. He was 64.

Known as much for his outspoken manner as his lengthy list of credits, the Scottish-born former adman produced his first film in 1978, The Sea Gypsies, before moving on to his 1980 breakthrough Prom Night. The teen horror — which featured Leslie Nielsen and Jamie Lee Curtis — was a hit and led to a string of genre movies through the ’80s and ’90s, including Vic Sarin’s Cold Comfort and Prom Night III: The Last Kiss, his sole effort as a director.

In 1997, he cofounded Norstar Filmed Entertainment and went on to produce notable titles including the World War I drama Regeneration and the Gemini Award-winning The Eleventh Hour.

‘He was a one-of-a-kind guy — passionate about the industry, passionate about everything he invested himself in. That was part of his charm,’ says longtime friend and colleague Milt Avruskin. ‘When you got beneath that, there beat a heart of gold.’

Upon accepting a special Genie Award in 2004 for his contributions to the industry, Simpson spoke out against Telefilm Canada for a secret and controversial deal it had struck with Creative Artists Agency — in which the Hollywood outfit was to recruit Canuck actors based in L.A. to appear in Canadian productions, in return for a packaging fee.

‘I hope Stursberg doesn’t [expect] to get his phone calls answered at that price,’ Simpson quipped, referring to Telefim’s then-boss Richard Stursberg.

Simpson courted controversy again in 2005 when he represented Karla — the U.S.-made biopic of Karla Homolka — to Canadian distributors, eventually striking a deal with Christal Films.

His most recent credits include the supernatural thriller The Marsh, starring Forest Whitaker, and the forthcoming CTV mini Would Be Kings, on which he exec produced alongside his wife, Ilana Frank.

A private funeral will be followed by a memorial service, most likely to be held in September.