Stephen J. Roth, a Toronto-based film and television producer, died on Friday, December 12. He was 67.
Roth, a lawyer by training, was a founder along with Robert Lantos and Victor Loewy of RSL Productions, the company that launched Lantos’ career in the Canadian film industry. Roth’s name was behind a number of Lantos’ early success stories, including 1978’s In Praise Of Older Women and 1985’s Joshua Then And Now, an adaptation of the Mordecai Richler novel.
In 1985, RSL merged with Lantos’ and Loewy’s distribution business, Vivafilm, along with ICC to create Alliance Communications. Roth was a supervising producer on several television series that built the Alliance production brand, including Night Heat. He agreed to a buyout in 1987. He later founded Cinexus Capital Corporation and formed a joint venture with Canadian exhibitor Famous Players.
Roth’s other film credits as a producer or executive producer include Miracles, Dead-Bang, Mobsters, Clear Cut, Beautiful Dreamers and Bordertown Cafe.
Speaking at the funeral, Lantos remembered Roth’s sense of humour and humility. In the 1970s when the two were planning to incorporate, they agreed the name of the company would be SRL Entertainment for Stephen Roth, Robert Lantos. But then Roth decided to call the company RSL because when, pronounced phonetically, it would provide them with a sonic reminder to keep a sense of perspective.