Tuesday, November 21, 2006

OBT: Robert Altman

Film Director Robert Altman Dies
At a Los Angeles Hospital, According to a Spokesman

LOS ANGELES Nov 21, 2006 (AP)— Robert Altman, the caustic and irreverent satirist behind "MASH," "Nashville" and "The Player" who made a career out of bucking Hollywood management and story conventions, died at a Los Angeles Hospital, his Sandcastle 5 Productions Company said Tuesday. He was 81.

The director died Monday night, Joshua Astrachan, a producer at Altman's Sandcastle 5 Productions in New York City, told The Associated Press.

The cause of death wasn't disclosed. A news release was expected later in the day, Astrachan said.

Altman had one of the most distinctive styles among modern filmmakers. He often employed huge ensemble casts, encouraged improvisation and overlapping dialogue and filmed scenes in long tracking shots that would flit from character to character.

Perpetually in and out of favor with audiences and critics, Altman worked ceaselessly since his anti-war black comedy "M-A-S-H" established his reputation in 1970, but he would go for years at a time directing obscure movies before roaring back with a hit.

A five-time Academy Award nominee for best director, Altman didn't receive an Oscar until earlier this year when he was honored for lifetime achievement.

"No other filmmaker has gotten a better shake than I have," he said in accepting the award. "I'm very fortunate in my career. I've never had to direct a film I didn't choose or develop. My love for filmmaking has given me an entree to the world and to the human condition."

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