From the Files

These are pieces from a year ago or more. Some of them actually go back a decade or two. (I’ve been at this a long time.) These are all available on the web; there are, of course, many that aren’t (notably the magazine pieces, including those from Premiere and Emmy). For those, I’ll try and post PDFs in the coming months.

Oscar music contenders for 2013

Friday, December 13th, 2013 at 10:00 am

Every year at Oscar time, Variety asks me (and other writers) to talk to score composers who are in the running for awards. This season, it was Alexandre Desplat (for Philomena), Mark Orton (Nebraska) and John Williams (The Book Thief). Earlier in the season I interviewed Henry Jackman (Captain Phillips), Nicholas Britell (the period source… Read More

The music of “Frozen”

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 at 11:00 am

I walked into a scoring session for Frozen, not really knowing what to expect (except that I knew Chris Beck’s score would be great, and it was). What I found was a surprising group of musicians, songwriters, Disney animators and executives who hoped that, somehow, this long-in-gestation version of “The Snow Queen” would somehow resonate… Read More

The U.N.C.L.E. Movie

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 at 3:00 pm

The 40-year odyssey to make a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie was the subject of this Variety story, for which I interviewed producer John Davis, original star Robert Vaughn, and Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. consultant Robert Short. The print version (pictured here) featured lots of fun, colorful sidebar information that somehow didn’t translate well… Read More

John Lunn’s music for “Downton Abbey”

Saturday, June 1st, 2013 at 12:00 pm

My friends at Emmy magazine asked me to profile three composers, all potential Emmy nominees for their scores for TV series in the 2012-13 season. Here’s the piece about  John Lunn, who scores PBS’s Downton Abbey. I also wrote about Christopher Lennertz of NBC’s Revolution and Ramin Djawadi for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Will try… Read More

The Changing Soundscape of Superhero Movies

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

… a headline I liked, for a change. This was a really interesting topic thrown me by a Variety editor: How has the music of comic-book movies changed over the years? Can you still do what John Williams did in Superman in 1978? Or does the music need to reflect the darker tone of many… Read More

Quincy Jones in films and TV

Friday, March 1st, 2013 at 7:00 am

As part of an 80th-birthday tribute, Variety asked me to assemble a list of 10 key moments from Quincy Jones’ career writing music for films and TV. It was a fascinating challenge, and while I had to omit a few personal favorites just because they’re now so obscure (John and Mary, $, The Hot Rock),… Read More

Thomas Newman and “Skyfall”

Friday, February 8th, 2013 at 4:00 am

Thomas Newman, one of today’s brightest and most talented composers, has been the subject of many stories over the years. Most recently there was his score for the James Bond film Skyfall, which was Oscar-nominated and won a BAFTA. (Read more about it in my Bond book!) Before that, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Prior… Read More

Musicians vs. their own union

Sunday, November 18th, 2012 at 12:00 pm

One of the most contentious, and complex, issues facing Hollywood studio musicians is the role that the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) plays in their lives. If a movie production company or studio isn’t legally bound to score in Hollywood (only major studios and networks are), then they often choose to go overseas to record… Read More

Marco Beltrami, Billion Dollar Composer

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 at 4:00 am

Here is a group of stories I wrote for Variety about Marco Beltrami, one of today’s most innovative and sought-after composers for film. Just getting to his Malibu studio was something of an adventure. The main story includes quotes from collaborators ranging from James Mangold and Wes Craven to Tommy Lee Jones, and something of… Read More

John Williams on “Jaws” and “E.T.”

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

During the summer and fall of 2012, Universal decided to issue new Blu-Ray editions of two Steven Spielberg classics, Jaws (1975) and E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). To help promote both, they asked me to interview composer John Williams — who won Oscars for each — about his memories of writing those now-iconic themes and scores…. Read More