The Oscar nominations for 2022 were announced on January 24, and four of the five best score nominations went to previous winners or nominees. I spent some time analyzing the races, and here is a pair of Variety stories that look in depth at the five song and five score nominations with a few words… Read More
At 91, composer John Williams is still so busy that it’s hard to pin him down for an interview. But I was able to do that on Thursday morning and on Friday Variety posted the story. He talks about reuniting with director Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans, loosely based on the filmmaker’s childhood; about eight… Read More
Gerald Fried was the first composer I ever interviewed, back in 1974. I had been a huge fan of his work on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and he gave me a wonderful half-hour. He went on to collect an Emmy for the landmark miniseries Roots and even greater fame for his iconic Star Trek battle… Read More
Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir, who took the business by storm a couple of years ago — earning an Emmy for Chernobyl and an Oscar for Joker — was back in town recently to discuss her music for Tar and Women Talking. It was a rare opportunity for me to write a cover story for Variety,… Read More
Ninety-year-old John Williams, who has hinted that his music for Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans and the forthcoming Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will be his last for films, still can’t seem to slow down. In December, he recorded a new three-and-a-half minute piece for ESPN’s coverage of the College Football Playoff National Championship,… Read More
Once in a while my editors at Variety will commission an essay on a topic of current interest. They asked for two in December, and I found both fascinating: A long piece looking at the progress, or lack thereof, that women composers have been making in film and TV music; and a second, somewhat lighter… Read More
The rest of the music world may have gone digital, but the record labels that cater to movie-music fans continue to produce first-rate soundtrack albums (actual physical product!) that focus on classic scores or previously unreleased ones. And many contain detailed liner notes that go into greater depth about the music than has ever been… Read More
A few years ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ music branch — the approximately 400 composers, songwriters and music editors who decide the Oscar nomination slate for songs and scores — returned to an old practice: the “shortlist,” a way of winnowing down the vast number entered (this year, 147 scores and… Read More
Every year, mostly in November and December, Variety asks me to see a nonstop barrage of new movies and interview their composers. This year’s crop included Justin Hurwitz for Babylon, Marcelo Zarvos for Emancipation, Chanda Dancy for Devotion, Nicholas Britell for She Said, Ludwig Goransson for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Hildur Guonadottir for Tar, Terence… Read More
This year the Recording Academy finally added a category for game music soundtracks. It’s a far more important issue in the composer community than ever before, considering the vast number of games being played and the high quality of music now being composed for them, by some of the most talented people in the industry…. Read More
- April 13, 2023 at 10:51 am
I couldn’t be more surprised and thrilled to learn that our podcast has been nominated for a Webby Award. DisneyForScores, my monthly series of composer interviews, has been chosen as one of the five best podcasts in the TV and film category. (You can vote here: https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2023/podcasts/general-series/television-film) This comes on the heels of being named a Platinum Award winner (https://museaward.com/winner-info.php?id=223668) in the MUSE awards for 2022. Thank you to all of you who are listening… we have more exciting podcasts coming up this summer.
- March 24, 2023 at 6:48 pm
Music for Prime Time, my biggest and perhaps proudest accomplishment as an author, was unveiled Thursday night at Larry Edmunds Bookshop, the home of so many film-and-TV books and a place we have revered for decades. Not just the location, but the people: my dear friend Steven C. Smith (author of acclaimed bios of both Bernard Herrmann and Max Steiner) served as my host for a fun Q&A before sitting down to sign books for many friends, old and new. Thanks to Jeff and Sean at Larry Edmunds for a terrific evening — and anyone who would like a signed copy can contact them and I’ll pop over and sign them personally!
- March 22, 2023 at 6:14 pm
I had the honor of introducing David Lean’s masterful 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia at the Academy Museum’s new David Geffen Theater, a wonderful 966-seat house and the perfect place to screen a 70mm, six-track stereo print. It was part of the Academy’s Branch Selects program, whereby each branch (in this case Music) chooses a significant film for a public screening. To my surprise and pleasure, the music governors recommended me as the person who should intro the film. It was a wonderful opportunity to herald the grand-scale work of French composer Maurice Jarre; Lawrence was the first of four films he would score for the distinguished British director, and he won Oscars for three of them: Lawrence, Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India.
- March 18, 2023 at 9:01 am
I will be at Hollywood’s number-one bookstore for film and TV, Larry Edmunds Bookshop, at 7 p.m. Thursday, 6644 Hollywood Boulevard. I will be in conversation with old friend and fellow author Steven C. Smith (Music by Max Steiner) and then signing my latest book, Music for Prime Time. Hope everyone in the Los Angeles area will come out to say hello and buy my magnum opus!
- March 13, 2023 at 1:11 pm
Veteran singer and choral contractor Sally Stevens has written a book about her life (I Sang That: A Memoir From Hollywood) and, to celebrate, she organized an evening at Herb Alpert’s wonderful jazz club, Vibrato. She performed, presented some video montages of memorable moments in her career, and asked me to join her onstage for a 20-minute Q&A. It was great fun and the house was filled with supportive, enthusiastic friends and family.
- February 27, 2023 at 2:49 pm
The fun people at Boston’s NPR station WBUR invited me on their “Hear and Now” program again this year to discuss the five nominated songs at this year’s Oscar ceremony. It was a chance to talk about Lady Gaga (“Hold My Hand”), Rihanna (“Lift Me Up”), David Byrne and Mitski (“This Is a Life”), Sofia Carson (“Applause”) and the team behind the songs in “RRR” (“Naatu Naatu”). Here is a link to listen to the 10-minute segment.
- February 27, 2023 at 11:48 am
I am happy to announce that not only is my new book soon to be available, but we are actually doing an in-person signing at the ideal venue: Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood. Final details are still to be worked out, but the date will be Thursday, March 23. Look forward to seeing you at 6644 Hollywood Boulevard that evening.
- January 18, 2023 at 7:09 am
I have to watch a lot of media for my job, and very often there isn’t time to watch multiple hours of television before having to interview a composer about their work. But in the case of Andor, the latest addition to the Star Wars universe, I was hooked and did in fact watch all 12 hours of the compelling backstory of Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna). I interviewed composer Nicholas Britell for two Variety pieces — one announcing his involvement, the other discussing his approach to this unusually novelistic saga — and finally interviewed both Britell and showrunner Tony Gilroy about their years-long collaboration on the project for an SCL event.
- January 13, 2023 at 11:03 am
The American Cinematheque sponsored a two-hour live Q&A with Steven Spielberg and John Williams, talking about their 50-year collaboration, on Jan. 12 at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event and I was honored to be the moderator. I was also effectively the co-producer, as I chose all 12 clips (from Jaws and E.T. to Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List) and prepared all of the questions — everything from how they met to their work process and their thoughts about the use of music in cinema. It was hugely successful (the cast of The Fabelmans even attended) and a thrill for me to be on stage with this extraordinary duo. Two excellent summaries of the evening: Chris Willman’s, for Variety; and Scott Feinberg’s, for The Hollywood Reporter. And an eight-minute video condensation of highlights.