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Oscilloscope Founder and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch Dies of Cancer: David Fenkel to Stay On UPDATE

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 4, 2012 at 4:01PM

Adam Yauch, best-known as a member of the hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, has died at age 47, reports Rolling Stone. Yauch, also a founder of indie distribution label Oscilloscope Laboratories ("Wendy and Lucy," "We Need to Talk About Kevin") was diagnosed with cancer after discovering a salivary gland tumor in 2009.
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Adam Yauch
Adam Yauch

Adam Yauch, best-known as a member of the hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, has died at age 47, reports Rolling Stone. Yauch, also a founder of indie distribution label Oscilloscope Laboratories ("Wendy and Lucy," "We Need to Talk About Kevin") was diagnosed with cancer after discovering a salivary gland tumor in 2009. Yauch directed many Beastie Boys' music videos as Nathaniel Hornblower.

Significantly, Yauch did not attend the Beastie Boys' Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in April, and the release of Beastie Boys' latest album was delayed due to his illness.

I got to meet Yauch through Oscilloscope; this is sad sad news. The timing of distribution chief David Fenkel's  transitioning to a consulting role --he was exploring new opportunities--couldn't have been more awkward. Nobody knew that Yauch was as ill as he was; even this week he was actively communicating with the company via email. Fenkel will stay on to steer the ship, says spokesperson Cynthia Swartz: "Given today's events, I can confirm that David Fenkel will remain intimately involved for the foreseeable future."

UPDATE: Here's a statement on the passing of Adam Yauch from his Oscilloscope Lab colleagues Fenkel, Dan Berger and David Laub on behalf of the entire company:

"We are deeply, deeply saddened by the passing of Adam Yauch – an amazing leader, a dear friend and an incredible human being.  Today we are heartbroken at Oscilloscope as we take in this awful news and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.  Adam's legacy will remain a driving force at Oscilloscope – his indomitable spirit and his great passion for film, people, and hard work - always with a sense of humor and a lot of heart."

While Yauch helped to launch Oscilloscope and remained its leader, the company continued business as usual during his illness over the last three years, and has become a self-sufficient distribution operation.

It would be sad to lose what was an effective and determined alternative indie label. We need as many of them as we can find. 

Here is a statement from the band:

This article is related to: Obit


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.