TORONTO (CelebrityAccess) — Canadian television executive and Hollywood Suite co-founder Jay Switzer died on January 29th in Toronto after a brief battle with brain cancer. He was 61
“Jay defined friendship, loyalty, fairness, selflessness, and basic human decency. He will be proud to know that these traits have been passed on to so many others who will pay it forward, ensuring that Jay’s legacy is intact and the world will be a better place,” Jeff Sackman, Hollywood Suite co-founder and chair of the board of directors, said in a statement.
Switzer hailed from a Calgary television family — the son of broadcast executives Israel Switzer and Phyllis Switzer, both significant figures in the Canadian television industry. His first job at the age of 13 was assisting his mother Phyllis by attending a CRTC hearing in Trois Rivières and bring back a report for her regulatory newsletter.
When Phyllis co-founded Citytv in September 1972, she appointed the then 16-year-old Switzer to a full-time job a the station’s switchboard, according to a corporate obituary. This was followed by regular Saturday nights as floor director assembling the boxing ring with his high school classmates on Citytv’s live “Fight Night” broadcasts.
After obtaining an MBA from the University of Western Ontario, Jay returned to Citytv on a full-time basis as Program Manager and remained with the company after it was rolled up as part of the CHUM Limited conglomerate in 1981 and was eventually appointed CEO of the company in 2002.
Channels that Switzer helped to launch include MuchMusic, Bravo!, and FashionTelevision.
In 2002, Switzer co-founded Hollywood Suite, a group of four cable premium channels that offer classic films, each from a different decade.
Jay was an active board member serving organizations including the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the Banff Television Festival, the National Association of Television Program Executives, and the Toronto Film Board. He served as Chair of the board of GlassBOX Television from 2009-2011, and most recently served on the boards of: OUTtv; Shaftesbury Films Inc.; and Comweb Corporation. He was also a long-time supporter of Ryerson University, serving on the Advisory Board for the Faculty of Radio and Television Arts since 2012.
He was recognized with numerous accolades over the course of his long career, including he Friend of Women in Film and Television (Toronto) Award (1994), the Queen’s Jubilee Medal (2002), and the Human Relations Award (2005) from the Canadian Centre for Diversity. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in December 2017.
Donations in Jay’s memory may be made to The Canadian Film Centre (http://bit.ly/CFCSwitzer or call 416-445-1446, x227) or to The Phyllis Switzer Memorial fund at Ryerson University (http://bit.ly/RyeUniSwizer or call 416-979-5000, x6516).