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Robert Mitchell Warfield Frank Rosen
New York, N.Y.
|Other names||OZN, DaDa NaDa|
|Occupation||Screenwriter, film producer, recording artist, songwriter, record producer|
|Known for||One of the early pioneers of computer music sampling, producing, with partner Ned Liben (EBN of EBN-OZN), the first commercially released record ("AEIOU Sometimes Y", Elektra Records/1983) ever made on a computer, a Fairlight CMI, in the United States. One of the music industry's first white rap artists (Elektra/1983) and the first white House Music artist (One Voice/1989) to chart in North America |
Robert Ozn (born Robert M. Rosen, New York City), records under the name DaDa NaDa; Broadway credits as Robert Rosen; personal nickname OZN, (pronounced "OH-zen") is a recording artist, screenwriter, producer and Broadway actor, being the vocal half of '80s synthpop duo EBN-OZN; his solo act, Dada Nada; and for his later work as co-producer and co-writer with Colin Greene of the award-winning, human rights-themed feature film I Witness starring Jeff Daniels, James Spader and Portia de Rossi.
He is also a prominent American bisexual activist.
Early life and career
As a child, he was a member of the New York City Metropolitan Opera Children's Chorus, appearing in numerous productions in both the "Old Met" and the "New Met" at Lincoln Center. At the age of 16, he was the youngest student to receive a Key Scholarship award from Herbert Berghof acting school (HB Studio) in Greenwich Village. At 17, he was accepted as a voice and theater major at the Indiana University School of Music, where he studied with Norwegian Bass/Baritone Roy Samuelson of the New York City Opera.
As a teenager, he went on the road as a singer with Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show Band, working with Lew Tabackin, Ed Shaughnessy, Snookie Young, Tommy Newsom, Ross Tompkins, Buddy Rich and Mel Tormé.
His first professional musical theatre role was that of Hero in a tour of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Zero Mostel. Shortly after, he created the role of Henry Anderson in the original Broadway cast of the Tony Award winning musical Shenandoah starring John Cullum, which originally premiered at the Goodspeed Opera House. Subsequent acting work: leads in Vagabond Stars a pre-Broadway piece at the Berkshire Theater Festival with lyrics written by the Newsroom's Executive Producer/Director Alan Poul, Pirates of Penzance with Karla DeVito, and the LA company of Sam Shepard's Curse of the Starving Class with Gary Sinise and James Gammon.
However, it was not until his supporting lead in a small National Endowment for the Arts film No Regrets directed by Ruth Charny and produced by Ellen Sherman and his subsequent lead in the Broadway rock musical Marlowe along with Patrick Jude and Lisa Mordente that he came to the attention of the New York music industry, in particular Ron Delsner, who encouraged him to begin his own recording career.
EBN-OZN and DaDa NaDa
In 1981, Rosen met Ned Liben, then the owner of New York's Sundragon Recording Studios. Liben had built his first professional studio at the age of 14 and by the time he met Rosen had worked with Jimi Hendrix, The Talking Heads, The Ramones and a host of New York's rockers.
Their initial collaboration, "AEIOU Sometimes Y" was recorded in 1981–1982 (released in 1983) and was the first American record to be entirely produced on a computer (a Fairlight CMI). "AEIOU" was a mix of rap, spoken word, digital sampling, rock and R&B dance music. Liben and Rosen cut their own 12-inch dance single, which was signed by Arista Records in London and in New York by Elektra Records' President Bob Kraznow before the band even had a name, which eventually became Ebn-Ozn. "AEIOU" went top 20 on the Billboard Club Chart, establishing OZN as one of the first white rappers in the industry. "AEIOU"'s video, a Los Angeles Times Top 10 Video of the Year, received domestic and international exposure and was featured on Beavis and Butt-head through the '90s.
Ebn-Ozn's first full-length album, Feeling Cavalier, released by Elektra in 1984, went Top 20 on the College Radio Chart and their second single, "Bag Lady (I Wonder)" went Top 40 on the Billboard Club Chart. The video for "Bag Lady" starred Tony and Emmy Award winner Imogene Coca and like "AEIOU," enjoyed worldwide television and club play.
EBN/OZN received positive reviews for their album, singles, videos and live shows. They were covered in Time magazine, People, US and The New York Post. Ozn was declared the "greatest white rapper alive" by Playboy and called the "new American sex symbol" by the Boston Globe. EBN was also featured in Guitar Player magazine.
After the duo's split up in 1985, EBN went on to run his exclusive SOHO studio working with Scritti Politti and Arif Mardin, while OZN moved to Los Angeles and started his own label, One Voice Records and his own solo act, Dada Nada.
Dada Nada received a distribution deal with Polydor/UK and he distributed it himself in North America, landing two top five Billboard dance hits, "Haunted House" (the first House record by a white artist to chart in North America) and "Deep Love".
His 1991 UK release "The Good Thing/Give It All I Got", written & produced by OZN, Steve Wight and Bob Greenberg and mixed by Bad Boy Bill OZN & Steve Wight, was a two-song, 12-inch single, which as an import, hit No. 3 on the Record Mirror Cool Cuts Chart and No. 25 on the Record Mirror Mainstream Dance Chart.
OZN's collaborators on Dada Nada tracks included the legendary Godfather of House the late Frankie Knuckles and House music pioneers Bad Boy Bill, David Morales, Mike "Hitman" Wilson, Steve Wight (now an associate professor of recording arts at Cal State), and Bob Greenberg.
OZN's last public appearance was the 1990 US Dada Nada tour, which suffered a shooting incident during a show in Chicago.
EBN died in 1998 of a heart attack in Soho, New York and is survived by his wife Sallie Moore Liben and son Max Liben.
In April 2015, OZN announced on Facebook and Twitter that he was making his first record in 25 years inspired by the Charlie Hebdo assassinations, Je Suis Paris!. An anthem for the growing, global pro-peace, anti-terror movement, he produced and wrote the track with Gabe Lopez, who works with Belinda Carlisle, supported by Julian Coryell, son of jazz legend Larry Coryell and guitarist for (Alanis Morissette), Chris Golden bass player for hip hop star Exzibit, Gibi Dos Santos Sergio Mendes' long-time Brazilian percussionist, and background vocalists Mindy Jones of Moby and Mark Strom of the boy band Innovate.
Released in summer 2016 with remixes by Richard Cutmore, House of Virus and Mntna, the record's U.K. release peaked at #13 on the Music Week Commercial Pop Dance Chart in October 2016, after OZN recorded additional vocals with the lyric "I Am Orlando" in reference to the Orlando, Florida Pulse nightclub anti-gay terror attack, establishing it as an LGBT anthem through the United Kingdom.
His 2017 record "We Can Feel It" reached number 10 on the Music Week Commercial Pop Dance Chart in December 2017 and went to number 15 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in February 2018—his first American release since 1990.
Film industry career highlights
OZN went on to a producing and screenwriting career in the film business.
He worked first for free for Oliver Stone and Janet Yang's Ixtlan Films, trading his time in exchange for learning the development and production end of the movie business. He went on to become a paid first-call reader for A-list material for Stone. He was then hired at Miramax, as reader for Pulp Fiction under Oscar-winning producer Richard Gladstein and as contract development exec for much of their European fare and some of horror division Dimension Films' material. He also served as script analyst at Creative Arts Agency (CAA) on projects for Sydney Pollack, Louis Malle, Paula Weinstein and James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment.
OZN partnered with Ted Danson as executive producers to option Elegies for Angels Punks and Raging Queens, playwright Bill Russell's West End London AIDS drama, for Anasazi/Paramount Television. Danson and OZN attached Michael Douglas, Richard Gere, Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Jason Priestley and Elizabeth Taylor as well as Danson. However, it remains un-produced;
OZN and writer/producer Colin Greene (now a Vice-President at Sony Studios) sold Storm Warning, a $100 million-plus film, to Paramount for producer Mario Kassar, making the front page of the Daily Variety.
In 2003, OZN and Greene's God's Witness, long on many of the industry's "favorite un-sold spec scripts" lists, was finally made as I Witness, starring Jeff Daniels, James Spader and Portia de Rossi, for which the writing team received the 2003 Method Fest Best Screenplay Award. Universal released the film in the U.S. and Canada in 2007 and HBO released it internationally. 
OZN left the industry in 2003 to raise his children and returned in 2008, as part of the production team of "Turned Towards the Sun," a UK documentary about the British aristocrat, war hero, London Times correspondent, author and out bisexual Micky Burn. The film premiered at the British Film Institute in London in October 2012 to excellent reviews, earning director Greg Olliver a Grierson Award nomination.
OZN then wrote a feature for the Sy Fy Channel, "Earth's Final Hours," which was produced in 2011 by Cinetel and aired in 2012.
In 2015 he served as Executive Producer, along with Julian Lennon of BAFTA Board member Julia Verdin's film short "Lost Girls," which won awards at the 2016 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and IndieFEST.
Bisexual and political activism
A guest at the Obama Administration's 2016 White House Bisexual Community Briefing, Mr. Ozn is the Chairperson of the Los Angeles Bisexual Task Force, a bisexual advocacy non-profit operating out of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, presenting workshops for LGBT youth at the Center and University of Southern California as well as pressing for political change within and without the LGBT community. http://www.bicenter.org.
Awards and honors
Judge: Writers Guild of America Awards (longform) 2006, 2005, 2004
- LA Times Video Top 10 of the Year for EBN-OZN's "AEIOU Sometimes Y"
- Method Fest 2003 Best Screenplay for "I Witness"
- IFP Emerging Narrative Voices (Independent Feature Project) Screenplay (unproduced) 2002: Deadbeats
- City of West Hollywood's "Celebrate Bisexuality Day" September 23, 2017, Proclamation Awarded to Robert Ozn on Behalf of the Los Angeles Bi Task Force.
- "Fairlight – The Whole Story". Audio Media magazine (January 1996
- MTV News March 1989
- Playbill Issue "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum starring Zero Mostel
- [MTV/USA Interview with Martha Quinn,1983)
- [Time, Issue Date 1984, August)
- [People, Issue Date 1984, August)
- [US, Issue Date 1984, August)
- [THe New York Post, Sept. 23, 1983)
- [Playboy, Issue Date 1984, August)
- [The Boston Globe, July 15, 1984)
- [Guitar Player, Issue Date 1984, September)
- Facebook page of Robert Ozn April 27, 2016
- Daily Variety, January 26, 1996
- Michael Burn’s wartime exploits to be made into Hollywood blockbuster, The Times, March 29, 2008
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