Manny Coto, who won an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy for 24, worked on its sequel series, co-created Fox’s AI drama neXt and was an EP on Dexter, Star Trek: Enterprise, American Horror Story and others, died Sunday of pancreatic cancer at his home in Pasadena. He was 62.
A representative for the family confirmed the news today, saying he had fought the disease for 13 months and passed surrounded by loved ones.
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The Cuba-born Coto shared the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy for 24’s fifth season in 2005. He continued on 24 through its eighth and final season, and co-created its sequel series, 24: Live Another Day and 24: Legacy. He also served as executive producer on four seasons of American Horror Story and two seasons of American Horror Stories, directing the 2021 episode “Feral” of the latter.
He also was an EP on the final three seasons of Showtime’s Dexter, scoring an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy nom in 2011, and EP’d the last two seasons of UPN’s Star Trek: Enterprise. The family’s representative said Coto’s lifelong love of Star Trek permeated his life and worldview — and that his impression of William Shatner as Captain Kirk left his writing staffs in stitches.
Coto created and ran the 2020 series NeXt for Fox and created Showtime’s Odyssey 5, starring Peter Weller. That drama premiered in 2002 and ran for two seasons, telling the story of a Space Shuttle crew thrown back in time five years to prevent Earth’s destruction.
NeXt starred Mad Men alum John Slattery in a fact-based thriller about the emergence of a deadly, rogue artificial intelligence and combines action with an examination of how technology is invading our lives and transforming us in ways we don’t yet understand. It lasted one season on Fox.
Born on June 10, 1961, in Havana, Coto and his mother fled the Castro regime and were joined later by his father. Raised near Walt Disney World in Orlando, he used his dad’s Super8 camera as a teenager to make a horror film, Flesh and later an MCU-themed pic called The Incredible Bulk, starring his wrestler friend Tico Perez in green body paint.
Coto relocated to Los Angeles in 1983, where he began working in commercials. He met actress Tippi Hedren and persuaded her to star in his murder mystery pic Twist — which, along with a 16mm-shot pic called Roommates he shot during college, got him into the American Film Institute. While there, Coto made the horror short Jack in the Box, which led him to do an episode of the syndicated series Monsters, then an episode of a re-booted Alfred Hitchcock Presents, where he wrote and directed a new version of Twist.
All that led to Coto’s first feature work: Playroom, a horror thriller about a doomed archeologist played by Christopher McDonald; Cover-Up, a political thriller starring Dolph Lundgren; and Star Kid, a family sci-fi film starring Joseph Mazzello. He also directed Zenon: The Zequel for Disney Channel.
Coto’s family also cited The Ticking Man, an unproduced screenplay he co-wrote with partner Brian Helgeland in 1990 that was the first feature screenplay to sell for $1 million. It told the story of a bomb squad officer in pursuit of a cyborg equipped with a nuclear weapon. At a time when spec script sales were rising, Coto and Helgeland famously hatched the idea on the phone. “Let’s not hang up until we come up with an idea that we can sell for a million dollars,” Helgeland said. They stayed on, and after hashing it out, Coto suggested, “What if a nuclear bomb became sentient?”
Helgeland went to win an Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential, which premiered at Cannes in 1997, and he also scored an Oscar nom in the same category for 2003’s Mystic River.
Coto is survived by his wife, Robin, a visual effects supervisor he met on the set of Odyssey 5; their children Manny, Riley, Charlotte and Finlay; his mother, Norma; his sister, Normi; his brother, Juan Carlos; and eight nieces and nephews.
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