Sound mixer hoping to avoid 20th loss at Oscars

Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:38pm EST
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By Ray Richmond

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - If you look up the word "loser" in the dictionary, you probably won't find a respected Academy Award nominee as the accompanying illustration. And yet somehow, sound mixer Kevin O'Connell has been required to fight that unfortunate perception.

O'Connell has been nominated for an Oscar 19 times, only to go home every year without the big prize. On Sunday, he will be in contention again, nominated this time for his work on the Michael Bay blockbuster "Transformers."

This is actually O'Connell's 36th career awards show nomination. He has won precisely once: in his lone Emmy nomination, in 1989, for the miniseries "Lonesome Dove."

But if you're looking for lingering embarrassment or ambivalence, you've come to the wrong guy. O'Connell happens to be the most-nominated sound mixer in Oscar history, and the idea that he should feel like a perpetual bridesmaid doesn't even enter his consciousness. All he knows is that on Oscar nomination morning, he's received that call 20 times in a 25-year sound career.

"That's a big honor in itself," O'Connell said earlier this week. "It's a testament to the fact I've been fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented people. And it's because people like Michael Bay and Tony Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer have entrusted me with their vision."

So O'Connell doesn't spend a lot of time worrying that he's become the Susan Lucci of the Oscars?

"Oh gosh, no," he replies. "If I deserve to get it this time, I will. I know that my not having won gets me a lot more attention, and if it shines a spotlight on the sound community a little bit, I feel good about that. My only hope is that if I don't win again, the press will allow whomever does to revel in their moment and not ask questions about me."

There have been only two times when O'Connell admits that he was less than philosophical after coming away from Academy Awards night empty-handed. Once was in 1987, when he earned a nomination for "Top Gun" (his fourth). "I thought 'Top Gun' was the best-sounding movie that year," he recalls. "Every other year since then, the movie that deserved to win has won."   Continued...