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March 6, 2006
Santaolalla scores, Three 6 Mafia raps up at Academy Awards
Oscar returned to Hollywood heyday, but music awards broke ground by Jon Burlingame
Gustavo Santaolalla wins for his score to Gustavo Santaolalla wins for his score to Brokeback Mountain

Argentina's Gustavo Santaolalla and Memphis's Three 6 Mafia rappers entered the Oscar record books Sunday night with wins at the 78th annual Academy Awards ceremonies in Hollywood.

Santaolalla won the Original Score award for his evocative guitar-based music for Brokeback Mountain, one of three Oscars for the Ang Lee film about two cowboys in love.

alt BEST SONG: Houston, Beauregard and Coleman win for "Pimp."
alt Three 6 Mafia – Frayser Boy (Cedric Coleman), Juicy J (Jordan Houston) and DJ Paul (Paul Beauregard) – with actress Taraji P. Henson, perform "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" from Hustle and Flow.
Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard – better known to their fans as Juicy J, Frayser Boy and DJ Paul – won the Best Song award for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow. It was the second time that a rap won song honors (Eminem created the precedent with his 2004 win for "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile).

Houston and Beauregard were joined by their Three 6 Mafia colleague Crunchy Black, along with co-writer Coleman and singer-actress Taraji P. Henson (from the film's cast) in performing the tune before the audience at the Kodak Theatre. (Fellow nominees Dolly Parton and Kathleen "Bird" York also performed their songs from Transamerica and Crash, respectively. Ill-conceived production numbers marred both theCrash and Hustle & Flow performances.)

Dolly Parton sells Dolly Parton sells "Travelin' Thru" from Transamerica.

Kathleen Kathleen "Bird" York offers "In the Deep" from Crash.
The raw lyrics needed pruning – as demonstrated by Henson's repeated use of "witches" instead of the "b-word" – although the show's producers still bleeped another word or two, once during the performance and once during their subsequent appearance at the podium.

Their win and wild acceptance speech energized the show, then more than two hours and 20 minutes into its 3-hour, 33-minute running time, leading host Jon Stewart to quip, "I think it just got a little easier out here for a pimp." Beauregard even thanked George Clooney ("my favorite man, he showed me love when I first met him!").

Santaolalla's breathless but gracious acceptance speech, about half an hour earlier, included warm thank-yous to his musical collaborators and to director Ang Lee, and brief remarks about the subject matter: "Love is what makes us all very similar."

All of his fellow nominees were present – John Williams, who scored his 44th and 45th nominations for Memoirs of a Geisha and Munich; Alberto Iglesias, his first for The Constant Gardener; and Dario Marianelli, his first for Pride & Prejudice.

Williams' friend, violinist Itzhak Perlman, made a surprise appearance at the awards, performing a three-and-a-half-minute medley of music from all five nominated scores. Bill Conti conducted the Oscar orchestra for the 18th time.

Medley of Best Score nominees is performed by virtuoso Itzhak Perlman accompanied by Bill Conti\'s orchestra. Medley of Best Score nominees is performed by virtuoso Itzhak Perlman accompanied by Bill Conti's orchestra.
The late songwriter Joel Hirschhorn, who won two Oscars (for "The Morning After" from The Poseidon Adventure and "We May Never Love Like This Again" from The Towering Inferno) was the only musician included in this year's In Memoriam tribute, underscored by Max Steiner's' Now, Voyager.

Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar fanfare served as a play-on for Academy president Sid Ganis; his L.A. Confidential music, as well as David Raksin's Laura and Franz Waxman's To Have and Have Not, helped to underscore a salute to the film noir genre. Georges Delerue's chorale from Day for Night accompanied a clip package devoted to biopics, and music by Miklos Rozsa (Ben-Hur), Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings) and Williams (E.T.) was used during the salute to epic films.

Photos courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.

©2006 Jon Burlingame

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