Composer Mark Isham Wows Film Festival

By Alice O’Neill

Multi-Award Winning Composer
Mark Isham Named Distinguished Film Composer
at the 2013 Middleburg Film Festival

Film composer Mark Isham

Film composer Mark Isham

Composer’s 42 Score Also Nominated at the 2013 Hollywood Music in Media Awards

(Los Angeles, CA) October 29, 2013—The inaugural Middleburg Film Festival in Middleburg, VA honored Mark Isham as the recipient of their first Distinguished Film Composer Award. Isham was bestowed the honor at the Salamander Resort on Friday, October 25.

In addition, Isham’s music for the Warner Bros. film 42 is nominated in the Feature Film Score category at the sixth annual Hollywood Music in Media Awards which will take place Thursday, November 21, 2013 at The Fonda Theater in Hollywood, CA.

The Middleburg Film Festival awards ceremony included a special concert by the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra performing a selection of Isham’s most memorable scores including his Oscar-nominated music from A River Runs Through It, as well as pieces from Dolphin Tale and 42. In attendance was President and CEO of The Jackie Robinson Foundation, Della Britton Baeza. Also featured during the awards ceremony was a conversation with Isham moderated by the Washington Post‘s Ann Hornaday.

Isham exclaimed in his acceptance speech at the festival, “I am honored to receive the Distinguished Film Composer Award at the first Middleburg Film Festival. I would like to thank Susan Koch and Sheila Johnson for inviting me to this festival. Sheila has created a wonderful festival and a gorgeous resort. I would like to thank Jan Wagner and the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra for the incredible job performing some of my scores and Ann Hornaday for interviewing me here tonight and thank you Reggie Van Lee of the Washington Performing Arts Society for presenting me with this award.”

Said Middleburg Film Festival Founder and Board Chair Sheila C. Johnson, “A musical score has the capacity to elevate a scene, stir emotions and transform a film. Mark’s talents lie in his ability to compose music that is organic, seemingly simple in form, yet profound in impact. It is no wonder that renowned directors such as Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood and Paul Haggis have enlisted Mark for their most important projects. We at the Middleburg Film Festival are privileged to have such a remarkable artist for our inaugural award.”

Mark Isham has written critically-acclaimed scores for over 100 films includingHomefront, being released on November 27, as well as 42Dolphin Tale, Warrior, The Black Dahlia, Miracle, A River Runs Through It and Nell. Isham also composes the music for ABC’s Once Upon a TimeOnce Upon a Time in Wonderland and TNT’s upcoming 1940s gangster series Mob City. Isham’s solo career as a musician earned him a Grammy award for his self-titled albumMark Isham and Grammy nominations for his albums Castalia and Tibet as well as for his scores Men of Honor and A River Runs Through It. His accolades include an Academy Award nominationan Emmy award, a Golden Globe nomination and the Henry Mancini award for Career Achievement.

Many thanks from Alex May of Costa Communications


Beltrami Enlivens Remake Of “Carrie”

Composer Marco Beltrami brings his horror franchise expertise to Carrie, the remake of the horror movie classic based on the Stephen King novel, in theaters October 18, 2013,  Albert Tello of Costa Communications told me. Directed by Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry), Carrie stars Chloë Grace Moretz as the tortured teen pushed into using her supernatural powers to wreak havoc on her bullying peers and overbearing mother. Beltrami has scored many successful horror films including this year’s box-office smash World War Z and the Scream franchise.

 Beltrami took a unique approach to scoring Carrie, creating music that focused on Carrie’s emotional turmoil rather than the haunted-housed-frights type score commonly heard in horror films. Beltrami comments, “I’m working from the girl’s perspective and less of a horror picture. To me it’s like a coming of age story for this girl. Even though she has this possession or superpower, she’s almost like a force of nature.” Beltrami’s score lends Carrie a unique take on both the adaptation of Stephen King’s novel and on the entire horror genre.

The movie opens in theaters October 18th, 2013.

Marco Beltrami is an award winning composer who built his reputation as a genre innovator with non-traditional horror scores for World War Z, the Scream franchise and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Beltrami’s musical palette includes virtually all film genres. He has received two Oscar nominations for Best Original Score, for Hurt Locker and 3:10 to Yuma.

Additionally, Beltrami has received two Critic’s Choice Award nominations, and he was Emmy nominated for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series for The Practice.

Last year, he won the Golden Satellite Award for Best Score from The International Press Academy for Soul Surfer.  Recently he scored Snowpiercer, currently in international release, and the upcoming Seventh Son, in theaters January 14, 2013.

What’s up next? He is currently reteaming with actor/director Tommy Lee Jones for The Homesman.


Film and TV Composer Daniel Licht Shines

By Alice O’Neill

Spread the word. “Dexter” is in a class by itself. It became a cult hit even as each episode was unfolding each week on the pay-to-see Showtime channel. Fans couldn’t get enough. Now that it’s final episode has aired, watch for more interest in the bizarre drama as specially packaged DVDs find and convert new viewers. Final episode? I wouldn’t bet on it. Fans have a way of insisting that “final” is never “absolutely final.” It’s the writing, the acting, and that damned music. Nothing like it. Film composer Daniel Licht, to borrow a line from the underworld, has made his bones.

Stay tuned for more news about this creative musician/composer.

How One man Bet He Could Beat Lung Cancer And Won

The Book Shelf

Spotlight Book: You Can Beat Lung Cancer Using Alternative /Integrative Interventions (Anyi Books), by Carl O. Helvie, RN, DrPH

Reviewed by Alice O’Neill

If you or someone you know is diagnosed with lung cancer, what would you do? What should you do?

For anyone who’s faced or knows someone who’s facing that burden, a new book offers help. It’s You Can Beat Lung Cancer Using Alternative /Integrative Interventions (Anyi Books), by Carl O. Helvie, RN, DrPH.

Why would a nurse practioner, who knows, firsthand, every conventional medical protocol, outright reject them when he is diagnosed with lung cancer?  And why did he instead choose alternative methods of fighting the deadly disease?

He did it because he had good reason to believe conventional protocols wouldn’t work but he had an idea of what would.

Helvie is a scientist. He believes in science. His studies as a nurse practitioner steeped him in how the human body works. But he’d also learned how to aid the body in healing itself. His approach was born out of scientific knowledge, skepticism of pharmaceutical interests in pushing drugs, intellectual and personal curiosity, and profound belief in God.

If that sounds a lot like David going up against Goliath with a puny weapon, your mind is working like most of ours did. Unless we’ve faced it, none of us knows what we would do if we were told we had six months to live. So, thirty-eight years ago, when Helvie heard those dark words, “You have lung cancer,” it took unusual courage to reject what conventional medicine was offering and opt to seek a way to cure himself.

Instead of taking chemo and radiation therapy he used holistic natural interventions of supplements, herbs, enzymes, diet, prayer and meditation to not only beat this dreaded disease – but to prevent a recurrence.

Today Helvie is the longest living lung cancer survivor. He does not suffer from any chronic disease and he takes no prescribed medications. At age 81 this energetic man, who still hosts his own radio health show, is living proof that it can be done.

The book is well-structured and begins with a rundown of what AMA-approved medical procedures and treatments for cancer are available and are generally recommended. As a nurse practitioner he had seen it all. Sometimes there were brief remissions but more often, the patients died. But not before all of them had suffered terrible pain, nausea, losing all their hair, suffering overwhelming weakness and physical debilitation.

He looked for a reasonable alternative. Not surprisingly, this well-educated (doctorate from Johns Hopkins), curious and determined patient found colleagues in the medical profession of which he was a part. He knew more and more were embracing reasonable use of enzymes, vitamin supplements, restricted diet (mostly fresh vegetables, grains and nuts, and fruits) and other treatments.

The book details exactly how he guided his own search for treatment, how he progressed, and how he maintains his good health today. The book is a keeper and makes a great gift. See what Helvie told me in a fascinating recent discussion.

Q &A with Carl O. Helvie

 Just how devastating is lung cancer in the U.S?

It kills more people than colon, prostate and breast cancer combined.

Why did you write this book?

To show people what alternatives they have, that they can be empowered to make their own decisions, to show how they can reduce toxicity in their bodies, and to offer encouragement. I wanted to say to each one, “Devastating surgeries and painful procedures for conventional cancer treatment are not your only options.”

What about your holistic interventions?

Another goal was to provide information to readers on how to carry out some of the holistic interventions mentioned in this book that might not be familiar to the reader. These holistic interventions discussed under the categories of physical, mental and spiritual include how to meditate, use affirmations, quit smoking, detect and remove radon from your home, and many others that relate to a holistic approach to lung cancer interventions.

You say you believe you’re the longest living lung cancer survivor after being given 6 months to live. Why do you believe that?

I got useful information on the Internet, including the site It’s a great place to learn about surviving lung cancer, the latest innovations in treatment, and accurate statistics.

Lung cancer has few symptoms before it becomes advanced and difficult to treat. Why did you seek medical attention?

I knew that if it’s caught in Stage 1 or 2 it’s easier to successfully treat.  And about that time I had a dream that I needed a chest x-ray. It was pretty clear that God spoke to me.

What happened after you saw the doctor?

The doctor quizzed me, sent me for an x-ray. When he saw a spot on my lung he sent me for a biopsy that was positive for lung cancer. He then immediately said he wanted me to have chemo. I said no. I’d had 20 years of nursing experience and I thought I didn’t want to experience chemo. I thought there were other  alternatives.

I was a member of a “Search For God” group. I knew them as good, intelligent people who practiced patience and brotherly love. So I turned to a trusted member for guidance.

Why did you choose an alternative intervention instead of conventional care?

My doctor’s sister was in the “Search For God” group. We prayed for guidance and were alert to our dreams. I was led to a physician who used alternative treatments that were not only successful but also non-invasive and non-debilitating, and did not destroy healthy cells in my body nor suppress the immune system.

Did you have to take a leave from work during treatment?

No. During treatment I continued teaching nursing and health students, writing articles, carrying out research–all my usual activities with no side effects from the treatment. It was a different experience from that of my mother, and from friends and colleagues who earlier had elected traditional therapy.

How did your family and nursing/medical colleagues react to your decision?

Mother said, “Do what the doctors tell you.” Most avoided me. They had a very traditional attitude toward chemo.

What was your medical regime?

B-17 (Laetrile), Pancreatic enzyme, Vitamins A, B, C, E, Comfrey Pepsin, herbs and a vegan type diet.

Anything else?

I also added an environmental component in addition to the mental and spiritual interventions. I made my home as free of toxins as possible. Radon and asbestos were eliminated. Also prayer, meditation, affirmations, visualizations, serving others, and optimism were a big part of my plan. No chemo and no radiation.

Were there side effects that interfered with your daily life?

No. Never. Traditional literature says laetrile is poisonous  but it isn’t poisonous to healthy cells. It only attacks cancer cells. With chemo and radiation too many healthy cells are destroyed along with the cancer cells.

 What was the outcome of your interventions?

I was 42 when a biopsy showed cancer. I’m now 81 and I have no chronic illness.

No signs of cancer today?


What are some outcomes of alternative interventions by medical contributors in your book?

In 2005 Dr. James Forsythe (MD, HMD) of the Cancer Screening and Treatment Center of Nevada and Century Wellness Clinic, treated a 52-year old woman who suffered from Stage IV non-small cell, metastasized lung cancer and he used non-conventional treatments, based on evidence-based studies of natural substances.

She is alive today and on no chemotherapy and has a 100% performance status.  In addition, from cohort studies his success rate for a group of Stage IV cancer patients using natural interventions for 5 year survival was 46% compared to traditional rates of 2%.

What does Dr. Forsythe say about conventional treatments?

There is no “panacea” or “magic bullet” yet developed to treat cancer, and there is no cancer yet to respond 100% to any single drug or group of drugs in any protocol .

He says, “The successful oncologist of the future must address the whole person, his or her emotional profile,  nutritional needs,  supplemental needs, the detoxification of underlying heavy metal  and chemical toxins, the integrity of her immune system, her dental health, and most of all serving to protect her anatomical, physiological and biochemical system from undue toxicity and excessive amounts of radiation, surgery and massive doses of chemotherapy.

Why is that important?

The onslaught of these factors leaves the body’s intrinsic defense mechanisms, immune function, white cells, natural killer cells, and B & T cells all totally depleted.

So Dr. Forsythe believes in treating the whole person, not just the cancer?

Yes. Dr. Forsythe wins over alternative believers with his commonsense approach to integrative oncology.

How does he explain integrative oncology?

He says, “Integrative Oncology, which treats the whole body and the whole person, looks more into the self-healing properties of the body as well as the molecular biology of the cancer cell itself.”

He also includes the importance of sugar-free diets, alkalinizing diets, bio-oxidative therapies, specific vitamin supplement therapies, herbal therapies, amino acid supplements (lysine), as well as the all important energetics of the cancer itself.

Dr. Forsythe admits that usually, if patients approach the subject of alternative therapies they are generally disregarded by the physician with either stern looks or a categorical statement of negativity, much like “they are useless,” “they will do no good,” or “there is no evidence-based medicine behind any of these options.”

Other than your book, what’s a good resource for readers? is a valuable resource.

So you have renewed hope for cancer patients?

Yes, these therapies not only offer alternatives to those facing this diagnosis, but brings renewed hope for a future free from the chronic illnesses that affect Americans today.


The book is packed with information based on his 60-year career in medicine and research, with valued input from leading medical and health practitioners in the field today.  Helvie is determined to show there is another way to fight cancer without the usual surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and their serious side effects.

In fact, a team of researchers in Washington State recently found (by accident) that in reality chemotherapy fuels the growth of cancer cells, making it even tougher to eradicate the second time around.

What makes Helvie’s story even more remarkable is that his holistic lifestyle is like “the gift that keeps on giving.” He remains cancer-free and healthy at a time when 89% of Americans over age 65 have some form of chronic illness and can expect to have three times that by age 75 and be taking five prescribed medications a day.

Helvie is a registered nurse with two masters degrees and a doctorate in public health and wellness. He has 60 years experience as a nurse- practitioner, educator, author and researcher and is the recipient of numerous awards with listings in Who’s Who In American Nursing, Men of Achievement, and American Men and Women of Science, and he received the Distinguished Career Award from the American Public Health Association in 1999.

Currently writing for a magazine, he authored eight published books and contributed to others, and has published or presented internationally over 100 papers and articles. He developed and published a nursing theory now used worldwide and has established a nursing center that provides primary care for homeless and low-income individuals and families.

While I highly recommend this book, for its content as well as structure and style, there are several typos in the introduction. This could be a turnoff for some. To those readers I point out that I find such typos in my daily newspapers, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Perhaps the problem is a product of our age of computers and instant rewriting, which sometimes accounts for a missing letter or wrong word. A future edition of the book would profit from correcting these minor errors because the writing is top notch and well worth the reader’s time and attention.

Another writer friend, knowing I’d be interviewing the author wrote to say, “Dr. Helvie’s topic is one I am interested in, especially what I understand is a long standing practice of pharmaceutical firms buying seemingly independent research grants from academics. That has always been a scandal waiting for disclosure.”

He’s right.

To my friends, family, and readers everywhere who are likewise interested in the topic, below is an excerpt from an eye-opening article, written by a learned academician who exposes the unholy, unethical and likely illegal activities of medical professors in bed with drug companies.

Big Pharma Is Bad Medicine

Marcia Angell

Saturday, May 1, 2010

This article is adapted from a talk delivered by Marcia Angell at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics on December 10, 2009.

In May of 2000, shortly before I stepped down as editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, I wrote an editorial entitled, “Is Academic Medicine for Sale?” It was prompted by a clinical trial of an antidepressant called Serzone that was published in the same issue of the Journal.

The authors of that paper had so many financial ties to drug companies, including the maker of Serzone, that a full-disclosure statement would have been about as long as the article itself, so it could appear only on our Web site. The lead author, who was chairman of the department of psychiatry at Brown University (presumably a full-time job), was paid more than half a million dollars in drug-company consulting fees in just one year. Although that particular paper was the immediate reason for the editorial, I wouldn’t have bothered to write it if it weren’t for the fact that the situation, while extreme, was hardly unique.

Among the many letters I received in response, two were especially pointed. One asked rhetorically, “Is academic medicine for sale? These days, everything is for sale.” The second went further: “Is academic medicine for sale? No. The current owner is very happy with it.” The author didn’t feel he had to say who the current owner was.

The boundaries between academic medicine—medical schools, teaching hospitals, and their faculty—and the pharmaceutical industry have been dissolving since the 1980s, and the important differences between their missions are becoming blurred. Medical research, education, and clinical practice have suffered as a result.

Academic medical centers are charged with educating the next generation of doctors, conducting scientifically important research, and taking care of the sickest and neediest patients. That’s what justifies their tax-exempt status. In contrast, drug companies—like other investor-owned businesses—are charged with increasing the value of their shareholders’ stock. That is their fiduciary responsibility, and they would be remiss if they didn’t uphold it. All their other activities are means to that end. The companies are supposed to develop profitable drugs, not necessarily important or innovative ones, and paradoxically enough, the most profitable drugs are the least innovative. Nor do drug companies aim to educate doctors, except as a means to the primary end of selling drugs. Drug companies don’t have education budgets; they have marketing budgets from which their ostensibly educational activities are funded.

This profound difference in missions is often deliberately obscured—by drug companies because it’s good public relations to portray themselves as research and educational institutions, and by academics because it means they don’t have to face up to what’s really going on.

Industry and academia
 No area of overlap between industry and academia is more important than clinical trials. Unlike basic medical research, which is funded mainly by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), most clinical trials are funded by the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, that is where most pharmaceutical research dollars go. That’s because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will not approve a drug for sale until it has been tested on human subjects. Pharmaceutical companies must show the FDA that a new drug is reasonably safe and effective, usually as compared with a placebo. That requires clinical trials, in which treatments are compared under rigorous conditions in a sample of the relevant population. The results of drug trials (there may be many) are submitted to the FDA, and if one or two are positive—that is, they show effectiveness without serious risk—the drug is usually approved, even if all the other trials are negative.

Since drug companies don’t have direct access to human subjects, they’ve traditionally contracted with academic researchers to conduct the trials on patients in teaching hospitals and clinics. That practice continues, but over the past couple of decades the terms and conditions have changed dramatically.

Until the mid-1980s, drug companies simply gave grants to medical centers for researchers to test their products, and then waited for the results and hoped their products looked good. Usually the research was investigator-initiated, that is, the question was something the academic researcher thought scientifically important. Sponsors had no part in designing or analyzing the studies, they did not claim to own the data, and they certainly did not write the papers or control publication. Grants were at arm’s length.

Thanks to the academy’s increasing dependence on industry, that distance is a thing of the past. The major drug companies are now hugely profitable, with net incomes consistently several times the median for Fortune 500 companies. In fact, they make more in profits than they spend on research and development (R&D), despite their rhetoric about high prices being necessary to cover their research costs. (They also spend twice as much on marketing and administration as they do on R&D.) The reasons for the astonishing profitability of these companies aren’t relevant here, but suffice it to say that as a result the industry has acquired enormous power and influence. In contrast, medical centers have fallen on difficult times (or so they believe), mainly because of shrinking reimbursements for their educational and clinical missions. To a remarkable extent, then, medical centers have become supplicants to the drug companies, deferring to them in ways that would have been unthinkable even twenty years ago.

Often, academic researchers are little more than hired hands who supply human subjects and collect data according to instructions from corporate paymasters. The sponsors keep the data, analyze it, write the papers, and decide whether and when and where to submit them for publication. In multi-center trials, researchers may not even be allowed to see all of the data, an obvious impediment to science and a perversion of standard practice.

While some new companies—called contract research organizations (CROs)—do clinical research for the drug manufacturers by organizing doctors in private practice to enroll their patients in clinical trials, the manufacturers typically prefer to work with academic medical centers. Doing so increases the chances of getting research published, and, more importantly, provides drug companies access to highly influential faculty physicians—referred to by the industry as “thought leaders” or “key opinion leaders.” These are the people who write textbooks and medical-journal papers, issue practice guidelines (treatment recommendations), sit on FDA and other governmental advisory panels, head professional societies, and speak at the innumerable meetings and dinners that take place every day to teach clinicians about prescription drugs.

This article is used here purely to educate the public. To read the rest of the article please go to this link: http: //










Henry Jackman, This Is The End

Henry Jackman scoring This Is The End

Henry Jackman scoring This Is The End

Hollywood Behind-The-Scenes

By Alice O’Neill


Composer Henry Jackman Gets It Right In This Is The End

For the apocalyptic comedy, This Is the End, composer Henry Jackman taps his own roots of classical composition honed in strict British schools from the age of six onward. Later, at Oxford University, the classicist learned to love electronic music.  And he quickly discovered the music industry. Today Jackman composes for major films in all genres and has built a solid reputation worldwide.

This Is The End is a contemporary setting but moviegoers likely will recall Hollywood’s Golden Era as swelling strings and heavenly choirs hail the end of days in this outrageous comedy.  The film narrowly missed an NC-17 rating, ending up with a rightly deserved  “R” for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use, and violence.

That “heads up” warning will not deter audiences who crave over-the-top horror comedy.  If this describes you, go buy a ticket. It’s money well spent. If you have a queasy stomach, bring a puke bag. There’s lots of blood and a decapitated body whose head rolls around the floor, making a mess of the Hollywood mansion which doubles for James Franco’s home.  That’s how I remember the scene.  Jackman’s score highlights all the action. Loud noises from exotic instruments meld perfectly with horrific visuals. I don’t recall how long the gory scene goes on, but it’s unforgettable. I remember lots of red—fire, blood, and the glaring eyes of a monster dragon.

Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen co-wrote and co-directed.  In an early scene at LAX as Rogen and Jay Baruchel head to their car, a bystander yells, “Hey, Seth Rogen, what up, man?”  The stage is instantly set, you realize. Okay. They’re playing themselves in a weird reality show.  Other recognizable stars playing themselves: Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, James Franco, and Danny McBride.

If you grew up watching HBO’s Entourage, you’re properly grounded for the party at James Franco’s Los Angeles mansion. It’s as if you got a full backstage pass.

I laughed out loud a few times, at the usual male riffs on blowjobs, jackoffs, and pissing feats. Despite supernatural monsters breathing fire and a long parody of THE EXORCIST, the film’s core, from beginning to end, is the value of genuine feelings of friendship and helping others. That’s a theme young males can identify with and embrace. Nothing new but it’s still good to see some positive philosophy in a summer flick.

Composer Jackman does not use his music as a character. Neither does he use it to denigrate the action viewers see onscreen. This classically trained musician/composer plays it straight. You will believe in the Rapture.  Jackman’s music makes it so.

The lone female, Emma Watson (Hermione in the Harry Potter films) is a feisty fighter, who bursts out of a bedroom wielding an ax after overhearing the boys discuss, in an inane way, who would probably rape her.  Now, if ever there was an act that is not fit for comedy, it’s rape.  But the scene of the guys musing is funny but only as they dismiss the idea. But it points up the ridiculous way their minds work. Emma has heard enough. She fights and exits the mansion with determination. Cheers went up in the theatre for this diminutive Supergirl.

These are actors, we’re reminded, and they’re not in a movie but in the home setting of one of the guys, and their dialogue is made up on the spot, not the well-crafted thoughts of a well-paid screenwriter. Hold on. Except, the lines we laugh at are actually the well-crafted lines of Seth Rogen as he explores the inner workings of the gang. Of special interest is Michael Cera, who plays the heavy and gets his just reward.  This character is evil personified. There literally is no redeeming quality seen.

The religious heavy handedness is played for laughs. My favorite scene: Everybody is stoned and Jay Baruchel is reading from The New Testament. He shows a picture of Satan and exclaims, “I know that dude. He’s from Where The Wild Things Are!”

When the boys go to Heaven it’s a trip tailor made for the characters we’ve come to know. Jackman’s symphonic music accompanies the boys skyward in goose-bumpy, transporting rapture scenes. The Apocalypse is played straight– a disaster that forces the guys to come to terms with their impending, demise.

More comedy for those in the know: Michael Cera’s chained sex slave is a shaved-head Channing Tatum, Hollywood’s latest authentic movie star, a bona fide actor who currently headlines the action thriller White House Down and graces the July 2013 cover of Vanity Fair.

From the opening scenes at LAX – “Hey, Seth Rogen, what up?”–to the final scenes of dope-heavy Heaven, this outlandish comedy satisfies every lowbrow fan.



Henry Jackman works the controlboard.

Henry Jackman works the controlboard.


Hollywood Behind-The-Scenes

By Alice O’Neill

Q. & A. with Henry Jackman, Music composer, This Is The End

Q. Where did you receive your Music education?

From age 6 on, at strict British schools where I had a formal, classical music education. Then, on to Oxford University. There I was  fascinated with electronic music. And I soon discovered the music industry.

Q. Usually music is added after the filming is complete. Were you ever actually present during filming of This Is The End?

No, but I did meet with Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill. Interesting, humorous, very intelligent.

Q. What was the nature of collaboration with director Evan Goldberg? Give me an idea of your modus operandi.

Seth and Evan had a rough version of the completed film. I went away and wrote the 8-minute theme – Apocalypse theme. Chords, harmonization’s, etc.  I played around with different instruments. Choirs. Then I wrote the individual pieces. Finally, I rehearsed with a symphony orchestra. Then we integrated the score into the film.

Q. What kind of staff do you have?

Not a large, permanent staff. But a composer depends on a Music Editor who has a vital function. Jack Goldman was music editor on THIS IS THE END. Traditionally, the relationship of composer and  music editor is a true collaboration.  It was with Jack and me.

Q. Favorite film you’ve composed music for?

Wrecked Ralph

Q. Favorite films of all time that you did not compose for?

Ridley Scott’s Alien and Blade Runner.

Q. What influenced your film taste?

I enjoyed all big movies. Not a snob. Regular taste. Jaws, Indiana Jones, Star Wars.

Q. What’s been a big commercial hit?

G.I. Joe: Retaliation now in theaters, which has already brought in more than $300 million at the global box office.

Q. What’s next?

Dreamworks’ animated film Turbo, opening July 17, 2013, and Captain America 2, upcoming next year. Very pleased with it.


Dennis Hopper Remembered

Dennis Hopper © by Alice ONeill

When I heard that Dennis Hopper had died, my first thought was that we wouldn’t see his likes again in Hollywood. Fans of his film acting will remember him for his incredible acting talent. I will too. But I’ll also remember him for his great, generous spirit.

A few years ago he told me to call and he’d be glad to sit down for an in-depth interview. I told him I was busy with law school and might not be able to make the call.  I still wrote my Hollywood Behind-The-Scenes column, but law school took more time than I had anticipated when I enrolled the previous year. But this iconic star made sure I got my interview.

Here’s how it happened. It was early 2004 and I was entertaining a couple from Chicago. I knew they wanted to have the full Hollywood experience, so I took them to Ago, the trendy restaurant on L.A.’s Melrose Avenue.  I annually donated a 3-day Hollywood trip as a fundraiser for deserving institutions since marrying and moving from L.A. to Chicago. DePaul’s Theatre School and the Joffrey Ballet were favorites. The man and his wife had bought the Hollywood trip to benefit the Joffrey, Chicago’s great dance company.

As the maitre d’ led us to our table, the wife grabbed my hand as she recognized actors she’d seen in commercials.  We’d just been seated and ordered drinks when I saw Dennis and two women being escorted to the only table open, right beside us. The couple with me both bent toward me and whispered, “That’s Dennis Hopper.” I nodded and put a finger to my lips. I knew the stars wanted their privacy and I had a routine worked out. I’d let them do what they came for and then I’d make a low-keyed pitch for information for my nationally syndicated column.

We ate our meal, chatted about the Joffrey , the couple’s work in supporting the Chicago dance company, and my work interviewing and writing about the stars. I had married a Chicago businessman and moved from L.A. to Winnetka, IL. This trip to Hollywood was typical of the travel my work required.

After Dennis and his party had finished their meal and the waiter had cleared the dishes, I leaned over (the tables were very close together) and introduced myself as Alice O’Neill, syndicated columnist of Hollywood Behind-The-Scenes.  Dennis smiled, saying, “I’ve read it. You’re good!” I thanked him and asked what he was working on.

He said The Last Ride was ready for release in a few months.  He said it wasn’t very good but he enjoyed some parts of it, saying he played an ex-con who recruits his grandson to help get revenge on the cop who sent him to prison.  But he added that he was working on another film that promised to be better, Land of the Dead, written and directed by George Romero.

“It’s a horror flick, science fiction, probably be out next year,” he explained.  Co-stars were John Leguizamo and Simon Baker. He said he thought it was a really good zombie movie, about the living dead taking over the world. “It’s got a lot of heavy psychology entwined with the action,” he said, his trademark smirky smile giving no hint of whether he was serious or not.  I took him at his word and scribbled a note. The film has since gained cult status as one of the best horror/sci-fi films of all time. Dennis, with his analytical as well as artistic mind, correctly judged the merits of his film. I ended our brief dialogue by thanking him and saying I’d send a copy of my column to his publicist.

Then I introduced the couple, explaining their “angels in the industry” status, a designation of people who pay money to support the arts. Dennis got up and shook hands with both and introduced his adult daughter Marin (a full-figured woman with an American accent), and his wife, Victoria (very fine-boned and slender, despite being seven months pregnant).  Victoria, who had a distinct British accent, seemed too young to be the mother of Marin.  I didn’t ask who her mother was, but allowed Dennis to dominate the conversation as he interviewed the couple. An animated discussion followed  about the Joffrey, internationally known for its excellent dancers, superb choreography, and innovative programs. “I love Chicago,” Dennis said. “What a city!”

Dennis and Victoria both knew the reputation of the Joffrey, and profusely thanked the couple for supporting the company. And they both thanked me for also supporting it. “So, you donate a Hollywood trip?” Dennis said, appreciation evident as his eyes twinkled and he stroked his white goatee.  “You’re good!”

He posed for a special black and white photo for me. When we said goodbye he kissed me on the cheek and whispered, “Keep up the good work, Alice. You’re a credit to the industry.”

Rest in peace, Dennis Hopper. The world remembers you for your extraordinary talent and for genuine kindness to all who came your way.

– Alice O’Neill

Clint Eastwood Collection Hits Bullseye

Latest Clint Eastwood DVD

Fans have waited a long time to buy a boxed set of Clint Eastwood’s early spaghetti westerns by Sergio Leone, featuring Clint as the iconic loner with no name. The wait is over. The boxed set, officially titled Clint Eastwood in The Man With No Name Trilogy, hits a bullseye.

This collection, from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, belongs in every film library. Leone’s trilogy of lowbudget, high-impact films, set in the American West (but filmed in Spain and directed by an Italian), made Eastwood a major movie star with a following that forced Hollywood to sit up and take notice. Up until that time he was known only for his roles on TV, most notably as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide.

I interviewed Eastwood before the Academy Awards in 2005 when he had been nominated for Best Director and Best Picture for Million Dollar Baby. I asked how important to his films was the music in each. “Very important,” he told me, holding me with that famous Eastwood gaze that says, “Nothing matters right now except our conversation.” He went on to explain that he wrote the music himself. “I was very careful not to allow the music to overwhelm the visuals but to support them,” he said, adding, “I learned that from Ennio Morricone.”

When I recalled that Eastwood had made a name for himself with the Sergio Leone films, Eastwood brightened. “It was Morricone who wrote the music for the three spaghetti westerns,” Eastwood said. “If you’ve seen them you know the music.” The first in the series, A Fistful of Dollars, was released in 1964. The stage was set for the former television actor to become an international sensation as the rough-hewn, silent “Man with No Name.” The footloose renegade with a wacky sense of humor, a cheroot clenched in his teeth, and a squint that made villains squirm, caught the fancy of moviegoers and they became his fans for life. Those fans are now graybeards, and they’re still loyal. They, and anybody else who likes movies with Clint Eastwood, are in for a treat.

This is the film that’s been called “a unique take on Japanese writer/director Akiro Kurosawa’s film, Yojimbo.” That cynical samurai tale, in the hands of Sergio Leone, gets a different setting: the American West. But the story maintains the inner stuff of legend and iconic characters, and works on a visceral level. Diehard fans couldn’t care less that it’s based on a Japanese tale.

The follow-up film, For a Few Dollars More, teams Eastwood with Lee Van Cleef, who played the villain opposite Gary Cooper in High Noon. In Dollars, Leone’s classic tale of revenge, Van Cleef again plays the villain to perfection. The third film, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, is set in the American Civil War where violence is a given. Added to that conflict is buried gold, and classic criminals in a conspiracy that involves double-crosses and betrayals that play out in a tension-filled finale with enough gun fights to satisfy any action fan.

A Breakdown Of What’s In The Collection:

A Fistful Of Dollars Blu-ray Disc Bonus Features: (Catalog # M121526)

● The Christopher Frayling Archives: A Fistful of Dollars

● Commentary by Film Historian Christopher Frayling

● A New Kind of Hero

● A Few Weeks in Spain: Clint Eastwood on the Experience of Making the Film

● Tre Voci: A Fistful of Dollars

● Not Ready for Primetime: Renowned Filmmaker Monte Hellman discusses the Television Broadcast ● The Network Prologue with Actor Harry Dean Stanton

● Location Comparisons: Then to Now

● 10 Radio Spots

● Double Bill Trailer

● Theatrical Trailer

For A Few Dollars More Blu-ray Disc Bonus Features: (Catalog # M121528)

● The Christopher Frayling Archives: For A Few Dollars More

● Commentary by Film Historian Christopher Frayling

● A New Standard: Frayling on For A Few Dollars More

● Back for More: Clint Eastwood Remembers For A Few Dollars More

● Tre Voci: For A Few Dollars More

● For A Few Dollars More: The Original American Release Version

● Location Comparisons

● 12 Radio Spots

● Theatrical Trailer 1

● Theatrical Trailer 2

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Blu-ray Disc Bonus Features:

(Catalog # M121527)

● Commentary by Film Historian Richard Schickel

● Commentary by Film Historian Christopher Frayling

● Leone’s West

● The Leone Style

● The Man Who Lost the Civil War

● Reconstructing The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

● IL Maestro: Ennio Morricone and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – Part One

● IL Maestro: Part Two

● Deleted Scenes

○ Extended Tuco Torture Scene

○ The Socorro Sequence: A Reconstruction

● Easter Egg #1 Uno, Due, Tre

● Easter Egg #2 Italian Lunch

● Easter Egg #3 New York Actor

● Easter Egg #4 Gun in Holster

● Theatrical Trailer

● French Trailer