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FMS FEATURE...

December 23, 2008
Revered Film Composers in Media Spotlight
Morricone, European exiles are focus of new radio and TV broadcasts

Ennio Morricone

Two upcoming programs – one on radio, the other on television – will be of interest to fans of classic film music.

Cinema Paradise: An 80th Birthday Tribute to Ennio Morricone airs at 2 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday, Dec. 28, on Los Angeles classical radio station KUSC-FM (and online at www.kusc.org). The television special Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood airs at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 1, on most PBS stations (check local listings; some markets are airing it on different days).

Italian composer Ennio Morricone turned 80 this year, and his remarkable career is celebrated in KUSC's newly produced two-hour special. Excerpts from 21 of his more than 450 film and television scores will be played, including such popular hits as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Mission and Cinema Paradiso, alongside lesser-known but key scores from his output including Once Upon a Time in America, 1900 and Malena.

In addition, portions of several of Morricone's classical works, including chamber pieces and a large-scale symphonic work, will be included. Excerpts from a Morricone interview – done for KUSC in early 2007, when he was in Los Angeles to accept his honorary Academy Award – will also be featured.

Film-music writer and historian Jon Burlingame is writer, producer and host. Gail Eichenthal is executive producer.

Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood is a two-hour exploration of the huge influence that Jewish exiles from Europe had on the American motion picture industry. More than 800 film professionals escaped to Hollywood in the years between 1933 and 1939. They included actors Felix Bressart, Hedy Lamarr and Peter Lorre; directors Fritz Lang, Henry Koster, Billy Wilder and Fred Zinnemann; and cinematographer Rudy Mate.

Of special interest to film-music fans will be the attention given to the composers who arrived in Hollywood and created the lush symphonic sound that accompanied so many films from the 1930s through the 1960s, and in many ways created the "Hollywood sound" that is associated with that period.

Rare footage of Franz Waxman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Frederick Hollander, Miklós Rózsa and Werner Heymann is expected to be featured. Such other composers as Ernest Gold and Hans Salter are also discussed. Eyewitness accounts of the era are provided by screen actress Lupita Kohner and author Peter Viertel along with archival statements from Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang and Fred Zinnemann, among others.

Sigourney Weaver narrates the film, written and produced by Karen Thomas. Margaret Smilow was executive producer for WNET.

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