R.I.P. Dan Robert Epstein

The world got a little smaller today as 31-year-old Daniel Robert Epstein suddenly passed away. Dan’s great work remains posted in the archives at SuicideGirls, Newsarama, UGO and FilmStew. I urge you to check them out when you get a chance.

Despite protests to the contrary, there’s more of a community in the field of online entertainment journalism than many other professions. Like any industry though there are plenty of hangers on just filling in time, opportunists solely in it for the money or credit, blowhards stroking their own egos, and recluses who wrap themselves comfortably in anonymity to keep their social and work lives as separate as possible.

Every now and then though you’ll find a real person – someone with a real passion for it and the drive to push themselves further, but someone who also can sit back at the end of a day and have a good laugh and drink about it with you. Dan was one of those, an increasingly rare lot these days which makes it so much harder to grasp that he’s gone.

Here was a man who embraced life with both arms. A man several years older than I am, but without the years of cynicism that all of us who’ve been in it for the long-haul become saddled with. He went after interviews with such vigor and landed some of the most fascinating articles you’ll ever read. He didn’t pursue celebrities or sensationalism, he talked to people whose work had a cultural impact and whom he admired. The result were candid, honest and conversational interviews filled with real intelligence and wit.

I’ve gotten to know Dan over the years over the course of about a dozen film set visits, and always considered him one of our group’s equivalent of the old guard. He was one of a dozen or so online journalists or publicists that, if they were on a set visit, would turn it from being the dull chore they can often be into a grand experience.

On a few occasions these visits become real cathartic experiences and gave rise to friendships that last for years. Dan was often present when they did, a real catalyst that helped get the ball rolling. Consequently the two of us and various others have had assorted adventures together in locales across the U.S. and Europe, the scenery may have changed frequently but Dan did not. He was someone whom everyone adored.

Memories are what I’ll keep – like a great night out at some college dive bar in Louisiana, getting lost in a taxi somewhere in a New Mexico housing project with a gorgeous publicist and a near passed out JoBlo correspondent, or simultaneously checking out what was behind Superman’s cape on a back lot in Sydney. Most of all I’ll miss the laughter, the man had one of the best senses of humor of anyone I know and the banter one could share with him was gold.

To his friends and family, of which there are many, my deepest thoughts and condolences to you all, especially to his wife Andrea. I never have gotten the chance to meet Dan’s special lady, but he has regaled me with stories over time and one day I hope to do just that. To her and all his family, you have the sympathies of all of us in this somewhat odd little community. To Dan mate, wherever you are, I hope the energy which you brought to your life will continue long on and inspire others as it has me.

Farewell my friend.