Composer Thomas Newman — whose 13 Oscar nominations include scores for Pixar’s Finding Nemo and WALL-E — has returned to the Disney/Pixar fold for the sequel Finding Dory, which focuses on the sweet blue tang with short-term memory loss (again voiced by Ellen DeGeneres). This time Dory is determined to find her parents, an odyssey that takes her across the ocean to a California aquarium. For a Variety story about Newman’s music, and his third time tackling an animated film directed by Andrew Stanton, I interviewed both composer and director during the recording sessions at Sony and at later mixing sessions at The Village in West L.A.
Tonight, John Williams becomes the first composer to receive the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award in the 44-year history of the honor. In connection with the event, Variety asked me to interview the five-time Oscar winner about composing such iconic themes as Star Wars, Jaws, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman and Harry Potter — as well as what’s next for him in an already distinguished 60-year career. It was also an opportunity to inquire of conductor Gustavo Dudamel, producer Kathleen Kennedy and AFI president Bob Gazzale about their thoughts on working with a Hollywood legend — and a chance for me to outline (in a short sidebar) some key career highlights.
You may not know the name, but you almost certainly know the face. Paul Dooley, who has played dozens of “dads” from Breaking Away to Sixteen Candles — and in several of my favorite Robert Altman films, including Wimpy in Popeye — is about to launch a one-man show (amusingly titled “Upright and Personal”) looking back at his 64-year career as a character actor on stage, in films and on TV. It was a delight to spend time with Dooley for this Los Angeles Times profile; and to talk with his wife Winnie Holzman (creator of one of my favorite series, My So-Called Life) and fellow actor Dennis Christopher.