Oscar winner makes home in Omaha

Editor's work takes him all over, but it's the Midwest that's beautiful in his mind

— A copy of Premiere magazine sits on his coffee table and a few framed movie posters hang on the walls, but you wouldn't know by Mike Hill's modest Midwestern home that he is a leading Hollywood film editor.

The golden Oscar statuette in a family-room hutch is a big hint.

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AP Photo

Mike Hill, who won an Oscar for editing the film "Apollo 13," has been nominated for another Oscar this year for editing Ron Howard's "A Beautiful Mind." Hill lives in Omaha, Neb.

Hill, who won the Academy Award in 1995 for editing "Apollo 13," is nominated again this year for "A Beautiful Mind."

He lives about 1,300 miles from Tinsel Town, however, in a gray, two-story house in a quiet, suburban Omaha neighborhood.

"I like the people here and the fact that I have a lot of friends still here and family. It's so much less hectic," he says as he pets his dog, Buddy, a mutt from the pound.

Hill, 53, and his editing partner, Dan Hanley, have worked on director Ron Howard's films since 1982's "Night Shift," for which they were assistant editors. Their other editing credits include Howard's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Backdraft," "Splash" and "Cocoon."

They also have worked on films for other directors.

Hill did live for about 15 years in California, but returned to Omaha, where he was born and raised, in 1988. He lives with his wife, LeAnne, and 15-year-old daughter, Jessica. His mother, a brother and a sister also live nearby.

"I've noticed a difference between raising kids here and in Los Angeles. Kids here get to be younger longer," LeAnne Hill said.

None of Hill's work is done in Omaha, however. He spends six to 18 months on a movie, traveling to filming locations around the world and working out of studios, trailers or hotel rooms.

"I have to go where they want me to go," he says.

Between movies, he goes home to relax, usually for a few months until the next project.

At home, he golfs, walks Buddy twice a day at a nearby lake, and chauffeurs his daughter to school. His wife describes him as a "house husband."

Hill doesn't think his chances are good at winning an Oscar for "A Beautiful Mind," the story of schizophrenic Nobel winner John Nash. The movie's eight nominations also include best picture, director for Howard, and lead actor, for Russell Crowe.

"I guess I'm pessimistic about it � it's better to be pessimistic and then surprised," Hill says. "I just think the competition is really stiff this year."

Other editing nominees are "Black Hawk Down," "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," "Memento" and "Moulin Rouge."

Hill is proud of "A Beautiful Mind" and calls it one of his favorites.

"For me, it's about good acting and a solid story � 'A Beautiful Mind' filled that bill," he says. "Each scene was a joy to work on because of the quality of the acting and the way Ron had directed."

Hill's daughter will be sitting at his side Sunday at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

"Her mother promised her that if I was ever nominated again she could go," he says.

"I made that statement thinking this would never happen again. I've lived to regret my words," says LeAnne, who will be watching from a seat at the back of the theater.

Although Jessica is excited about seeing her father recognized for his work, says Hill, "She'd rather see O-Town in concert than go to the Academy Awards."

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