Ellen Degeneres and Tyra Banks have led the tributes to TV executive Jim Paratore, who died after suffering a heart attack while cycling in France on Tuesday (29May12).
The 58 year old, who also co-founded celebrity website TMZ, is creditedwith giving DeGeneres her big break as a chat show host after she came out as a lesbian.
He also served as executive producer on The Bonnie Hunt Show and Lopez Tonight, and helped launch The Tyra Banks Show.
In a post on her Twitter.com page, DeGeneres writes, "My friend, producer and champion Jim Paratore died today. He gave me a chance when no one else would. I love you, Jim".
Banks adds, "Jim, I will miss you! You believed in me and were so influential in my TV career. Thank you for your faith".
Paratore was president of Telepictures, a division of Warner Bros.
He teamed up with TMZ boss Harvey Levin to develop the concept of the news website, and he was instrumental in turning the venture in to a daily TV news show.
A statement from Bruce Rosenblum, president of Warner Bros. Television Group, reads "The Warner Bros. Television family has lost an incredibly talented and creative friend and colleague in Jim.
"He has left an indelible mark not only on our company's success but on each of us who worked with him during the past 26 years.
"Jim had a passion for life, both inside and outside the entertainment industry, and he will truly be missed".