Remembering Anthony Minghella

The saddest news: It was a shock today to learn of the death of Anthony Minghella at age 54.

A source said Minghella had an operation at a West London hospital last week regarding a growth on his neck. The operation went well, but Tuesday at 5 a.m. in the U.K., he started bleeding heavily and died.

Minghella's publicist, Jonathan Rutter, later confirmed all of these details for the Associated Press, adding that the filmmaker died at London's Charing Cross Hospital of a fatal hemorrhage.

The Oscar-winning director of "The English Patient," "Truly Madly Deeply," "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Cold Mountain" was in the middle of finishing a miniseries for The Weinstein Company based on the "Ladies' Detective Agency" novels. He spent last summer shooting the pilot in Botswana.

Rarely has there been a more gracious, warm or lovely man. I had the pleasure of knowing him for more than a decade, since "The English Patient" was first screened.

About a year and a half ago, we spent some time in London, when "Breaking and Entering," an underrated gem of his, debuted at the London Film Festival. As usual, Anthony and his whole family were just a delight to be around.

There's going to be little consolation for his friends this morning. And there's an irony that Minghella's production partner and good friend, Sidney Pollack, who's 20 years his senior, has been seriously ailing this year. Harvey Weinstein, another close friend and colleague, was in Hong Kong and is just getting the news.

But the consolation is that Anthony leaves a legacy of art. He is also survived by two kids who will carry his name: young Max, who's already turning into a fine movie actor, and daughter Hannah, who was just appointed to a high-level job at Sony Pictures Animation.