Gil Cates, longtime Academy Awards producer and governor of the organization's Director's branch, passed away at the age of 77.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the following after the news became public.

"Gil was our colleague, our friend and a former governor of the Academy," said Academy President Tom Sherak. "He was a consummate professional who gave the Academy and the world some of the most memorable moments in Oscar history. His passing is a tremendous loss to the entertainment industry, and our thoughts go out to his family."

Cates produced the show 14 times between 1990 and 2008, more than any other individual producer.  He was also responsible for bringing in some of the show's most popular hosts including Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart. 

Martin tweeted this morning, "So sorry to hear Gil Cates has died. He helmed two Oscar shows I hosted. He was delightful, wise, canny and unperturbed. A great fellow."

Cates served three consecutive terms as a governor of the Academy's Directors Branch, from 1984 to 1993. He returned to the board for another term beginning in 2002, and held the post of vice president from 2003 to 2005.

Outside of Oscar, Cates directed a number of features including "The Last Married Couple in America" and "Oh God, Book II."