Akkad dies from bomb injuries
Moustapha Akkad, the executive producer of all eight “Halloween” films, died Friday from injuries he suffered in the Jordan hotel bomb blasts.Akkad directed three pics, including $17 million film “The Message” (aka “Muhammad, Messenger of God”), about the birth of Islam. Creation of the English-language film, starring Anthony Quinn as the prophet’s uncle Hamza, was complicated by its adherence to Islam’s ban on showing images of Muhammad. Irwin Yablans, Akkad’s partner in Compass Intl. Pictures, which distributed “Message” in the U.S., said, “The irony is that he made a movie about Islam’s universality of brotherhood and he was martyred by a so-called martyr.” When “Message” was released in 1976, a group of Muslims took others hostage in Washington, D.C., to successfully force the pic from theaters. Akkad was baffled by the reaction. “I did the film because it is a personal thing for me,” he told the Associated Press in 1977. “Being a Muslim myself who lived in the West, I felt that it was my obligation, my duty, to tell the truth about Islam.” Akkad also directed “Lion of the Desert,” about Libyan resistance to Italian colonialists between 1911 and 1931. Anthony Quinn played resistance leader Omar Mukhtar; John Gielgud and Oliver Reed also starred. Yablans said Akkad got financing for most of these films from the Middle East, including Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi. They partnered on three of the eight “Halloween” pics, but Akkad also exec produced largely forgotten horror pic “Appointment With Fear” (1985) and comedy “Free Ride” (1986). Born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1935, he came to the U.S. at age 19 to study theater arts at UCLA and later earned a master’s degree from USC. In later years he traveled from Hollywood to the Middle East and had gone to Amman for a wedding. “In his heart he was an Arab; he had cultural ties there,” Yablans said. “He kept away from the Hollywood scene. He was shy.” They lunched together two months ago, when Akkad told Yablans, who has retired from the biz, that he was giving more of his work to his son. The bomb at the Radisson SAS on Wednesday also killed his daughter, Rima Akkad Monla. Akkad is survived by three sons. The funeral was Friday in Syria, but Yablans said a service in Hollywood was pending.