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Rush, Public Enemy & Quincy Jones: The Odd, Vast Film Work of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013

Rush, Public Enemy & Quincy Jones: The Odd, Vast Film Work of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2013

Quincy Jones, Rush, Heart, Public Enemy, Randy Newman, producer-songwriter Lou Adler, blues guitarist Albert King and Donna Summer are the latest heavy hitters to make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame roster. And while there’s no doubt about their influence on music, they’ve also made lasting impressions on film.

The group has collectively earned four Oscars, inspired celluloid bromance shenanigans, written and performed movie songs and scores, and wholeheartedly embraced unconventional material. Seriously, who knew Adler produced “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and Robert Altman’s “Brewster McCloud?” Or that Donna Summer’s hit song “Last Dance” won an Oscar for “Thank God It’s Friday” of all movies?!? Or that Public Enemy’s Chuck D. co-starred in a film in which Harvey Weinstein plays a private detective? Now that’s the indie spirit!

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The new group will be inducted into the Hall during an April 2013 ceremony. Until then, here’s a look at some of their more intriguing cinematic exploits (minus soundtrack credits, which are too numerous to single out here):

Lou Adler

Induction category: Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement

Manager, songwriter, record producer (The Mamas and the Papas, Carole King), nightclub owner and über-Lakers fan (he’s the guy that sits courtside next to Jack Nicholson), Adler made his first foray into film by producing D.A. Pennebaker’s 1968 “Monterey Pop” documentary (Adler was one of the music festival’s producers). He went on to produce “Rocky Horror,” Altman’s Bud Cort comedy “Brewster McCloud” and “Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke,” which he also directed. Can you imagine a studio releasing a movie like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “Brewster McCloud” today? “Time Warp,” indeed.

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Public Enemy

Induction category: Performer

Just as songs such as “Don’t Believe the Hype,” “Fight the Power” and “911 is a Joke” navigated unchartered territory, members of the rap group Public Enemy tend to stray from the norm in their film projects. Chuck D. composed music for and co-starred in the 1997 comedy bomb “An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn” (the Harvey project), which used one of the group’s most political songs in its title. He also narrated “Quilombo Country,” a doc about a community with deep roots in Brazil’s brutal slave trade, and he was a major presence in “The Black Candle,” a documentary exploration of Kwanzaa. PE’s Flavor Flav, meanwhile, is now a reality TV star (the VH1 series “Flavor of Love”) with the indies “Cain and Abel” and “Confessions of a Pit Fighter” to his credit.

Donna Summer

Induction category: Performer

Everybody’s got to start somewhere, and for Summer’s character in “Thank God It’s Friday” that was at the very bottom. The late disco queen starred in the comedy as a would-be singer trying to get her big break at an L.A. nightclub owned by Jeff Goldblum and frequented by Debra Winger and Berlin lead singer Terri Nunn. Summer belted out “Last Dance” in the film and at the 1979 Oscars ceremony, where the tune (music and lyrics by Paul Jabara) won the best original song award — the same year “The Deer Hunter” won best picture, Oliver Stone took adapted screenplay honors for “Midnight Express” and Jon Voight and Jane Fonda won acting nods for “Coming Home.”


Induction category: Performer

Canadian prog rockers Rush were the subject of Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen’s 2010 rockumentary “Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage.” The filmmakers unearthed never-before-seen photos and live footage for the project, which won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. On a more commercial note, the trio appeared in a concert scene in John Hamburg’s 2009 comedy “I Love You, Man,” in which they are referred to as “the holy triumvirate.” Coincidentally, the bromance co-stars Rashida Jones, daughter of Rush’s fellow 2013 HOF inductee Quincy Jones.

Quincy Jones

Induction category: Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement

Good luck to the scribes who are assigned to write Jones’ obit one day — his accomplishments are exhaustive in film, music, publishing and nonprofit. Jones famously introduced Oprah Winfrey to “The Color Purple,” which he produced with director Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. He has also been on the producing end of much smaller fare such as the “Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel” doc, TNT’s Civil Rights-era drama “Passing Glory” and the 2005 ABC adaptation of “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Nominated for the Oscar seven times between 1967 and 1985 without winning, Jones finally saw his many personal and professional efforts acknowledged by the Academy in 1994 when it handed him the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Randy Newman

Induction category: Performer

As with Jones, it took decades before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized Newman with a statuette. His first Oscar noms came in 1981 for an original score and song he wrote for “Ragtime,” but he didn’t win his first prize until a dozen nominations later, for the “If I Didn’t Have You” tune from the 2001 Pixar movie “Monsters, Inc.” Newman has 20 Oscar nominations altogether, with a second win in 2010 for “Toy Story 3’s” “We Belong Together.” That’ll do.

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