Latest Articles

Our annual Emmy music chart

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018 at 8:06 am

Each year, for its summertime Music for Screens section, Variety asks me to prepare a chart listing every nominee in all six music categories including a brief description of the music itself, or something relevant to the nomination. It means a lot of TV watching in July and August! And often interviewing the composers, songwriters… Read More

Emmy nominees in the music categories

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 at 9:20 am

The Television Academy announced its nominees for the 70th annual Emmy Awards on July 12. There are now six music categories in the prime-time race. My overview of the music nominees ran that morning in Variety, highlighting the possibility that an Emmy win for songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul could make them EGOTs (having… Read More

The death of Patrick Williams

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 at 10:20 am

The Hollywood community was stunned last week by the death of Grammy- and Emmy-winning composer Patrick Williams. Not only among the most talented composer-arrangers of his generation, “Pat” Williams was one of the nicest guys in the business, one of the all-time great big-band leaders and a strong supporter of music education — a rare… Read More

Music in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”

Friday, July 27th, 2018 at 10:34 am

If you’ve seen the latest Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible adventure, Fallout, there are two things you can’t miss: Cruise’s amazing stunts and Lorne Balfe’s musical score. Balfe utilizes  Lalo Schifrin’s classic Mission themes in practically every scene. He wrote approximately four hours of music for the film and it took an entire month to record… Read More

Music in “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018 at 9:54 am

Adam Taylor has just finished scoring the second season of the acclaimed, Emmy-winning Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale. I got to attend the final recording session for the season and was sworn to secrecy about the details of those last two episodes — but it was worth it to watch a 27-member string ensemble enhance… Read More

“The World of Hans Zimmer” tour

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018 at 9:40 am

Those of you in Europe this summer may be lucky enough to experience “The World of Hans Zimmer,” a concert of Zimmer’s classic film themes performed by a large orchestra and choir conducted by his longtime associate Gavin Greenaway. The producers commissioned me to write a lengthy essay that, over 1,700 words, examines the composer’s… Read More

Universal mines its back catalog for classics

Monday, June 25th, 2018 at 6:39 pm

One of Hollywood’s greatest studios has launched a long-range program to find, preserve and release some of its previously unreleased film scores. It’s called the “Universal Pictures Film Music Heritage Collection” and launches this week with the first-ever release of the music from Colossus: The Forbin Project. Scores by Henry Mancini, Ennio Morricone, Lalo Schifrin… Read More

Sherman Brothers Tribute at the Academy

Thursday, June 21st, 2018 at 6:22 pm

Think of these songs: “Chim Chim Cheree,” “It’s a Small World,” “Winnie the Pooh.” The likelihood is you know them, and once reminded, you can’t get them out of your head. That’s the mark of a great song and, more to the point, a great songwriter — in this case two great songwriters, Richard M…. Read More

Pinar Toprak scoring “Captain Marvel”

Thursday, June 14th, 2018 at 7:42 pm

I am proud to say that I have been writing about female film composers for decades (from Shirley Walker to Rachel Portman to Anne Dudley to Lolita Ritmanis and many others along the way). I have waited for many years for a woman to score a big-budget franchise film, and now it’s finally happened. Pinar… Read More

Giacchino scores “Incredibles,” “Jurassic”

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018 at 6:52 am

Prolific, award-winning composer Michael Giacchino went in two directions at once this spring — boisterous fun for The Incredibles 2, dark and scary for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, films that are currently dominating the American box office. I visited the recording sessions for Incredibles and then talked to the composer about writing two big scores… Read More

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In Person

  • Interviewing Randy Newman!

    August 20, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Randy Newman — undoubtedly one of America’s greatest songwriters who also happens to be one of our finest film composers — sat down with me last year for a 90-minute interview about his music for movies. It was, as always with Randy, great fun, and I was delighted to be asked by the Film Music Foundation and the Academy’s Oral History program to formulate and ask the questions. He talks about the history of the legendary Newman family, about his major scores (including Ragtime, The Natural, Toy Story and the other Pixar films) and his classic movie songs from “I Love to See You Smile” to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

  • Emmy-nominated music in “Once Upon a Time”

    August 17, 2018 at 10:10 am

    Veteran composer Mark Isham and two of his younger colleagues, Cindy O’Connor and Michael Simon, were Emmy-nominated for their music for the final episode of ABC’s long-running fantasy series Once Upon a Time.  Walt Disney Records sponsored an event honoring them on Thursday in Hollywood and I was happy to conduct a brief Q&A with the composers as well as series producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. AFM Local 47 also honored them for recording all 156 episodes of the score with L.A. musicians (a rarity in series TV these days). Disney is releasing a seventh-season soundtrack album.

  • Interviewing Pasek & Paul, Emmy nominees

    August 14, 2018 at 10:01 am

    It’s always a joy to interview Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the mega-hot songwriters who have already won the Oscar (for La La Land), a Tony and a Grammy (for Dear Evan Hansen). They were back in Hollywood this week to tout their Emmy-nominated work in Fox’s A Christmas Story Live! and I was honored to conduct the Q&A for the Society for Composers & Lyricists. We talked about their new song (“In the Market for a Miracle”) as well as their next major assignments, collaborating with Alan Menken on the live-action Aladdin and starting another Disney project, the live-action Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. A week after this event, Variety published my interview with the two, which you can read here.

  • Music in “Crisis on Earth-X”

    June 13, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    For those of us who grew up with comic books in the ’60s and ’70s, the current batch of super-hero series on the CW have proven to be great fun. They’re constantly referencing classic storylines that we remember so well. Case in point: the four-part Crisis on Earth-X crossover series that linked Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow and aired over two nights last fall. I was honored to moderate a clip-filled Q&A that featured composers Blake Neely, Nathaniel Blume, Daniel James Chan and Sherri Chung, examining in depth how they went about scoring this grand-scale TV epic. The Society of Composers & Lyricists sponsored the event.

  • Music in “Black Lightning”

    June 9, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Composer Kurt Farquhar has worked steadily in television for almost 30 years. His credits range from Sister, Sister and Moesha to South Central and The King of Queens. He led the way for hip-hop in TV scoring and now, with what he calls a “neo-urban” style for Black Lightning, has mashed up every imaginable approach for the the CW super-hero show. It was a distinct honor to moderate a Society of Composers & Lyricists Q&A with the composer, his music editor Joshua Winget, and theme composer GodHolly, at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn theater.


  • Interviewing John Williams at BMI

    May 10, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    It’s always an honor to spend time with the legendary John Williams. I had a few moments with the maestro before he received BMI’s latest honor, named after him, and added a few tidbits about his current schedule in the Variety story I wrote the next morning. He was especially excited about the piece he’s written for cello and harp to celebrate the Leonard Bernstein centennial later this year at his beloved Tanglewood.

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