Latest Articles

Stephen Schwartz talks about the “Wicked” movie

Monday, May 22nd, 2017 at 9:03 am

Stephen Schwartz was honored last week with the Founders Award of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). In addition to covering the annual ASCAP Screen Music Awards for Variety — which featured not only the Schwartz honor but a number of other awards doled out to film, TV and video game composers… Read More

Alan Silvestri Named BMI Icon

Friday, May 12th, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Oscar-nominated, Grammy- and Emmy-winning composer Alan Silvestri received BMI’s Icon Award Wednesday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. His was the top honor among dozens distributed by the performing-rights society. The evening was a who’s-who of composers, songwriters and music supervisors active in films and TV. Variety asked me to cover the event, so I… Read More

Goldsmith Star on the Walk of Fame

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 at 7:19 am

Oscar-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, May 9, 2017. For a section in this week’s Variety, I asked composers who knew him and directors who worked with him for a little perspective on the man and his career. Goldsmith, whose filmography included The Sand Pebbles, Patton,… Read More

Zimmer, Balfe music for NatGeo’s “Genius”

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 at 10:06 am

Ron Howard, who produced (and directed the first episode of) the new National Geographic series Genius, about the life of Albert Einstein, has often turned to composer Hans Zimmer for his movie scores (including Frost / Nixon, Rush and the Da Vinci Code films). So it was a natural for him to ask Zimmer to… Read More

A “Rifleman” soundtrack… nearly six decades later

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 at 6:37 am

The surprise of the year in terms of soundtrack releases is an original score album of music from The Rifleman — the beloved 1958-63 Western drama starring Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford. Composer Herschel Burke Gilbert had always intended to release an album, as far back as 1960, but never quite got around to it…. Read More

Blake Neely, superhero composer

Thursday, April 13th, 2017 at 1:39 pm

For the main story in this week’s Music for Screens section in Variety, I profiled Blake Neely, who composes, supervises and/or produces approximately four hours of music every week for such DC Comics shows as Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl; the Archie Comics revamp Riverdale; and the thriller Blindspot. He’s also got a documentary coming… Read More

Music in “Julie’s Greenroom”

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Coming under the category of “boy, do we need it now” is the new children’s series demystifying the arts, Julie’s Greenroom on Netflix. It’s the creation of Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton and each half-hour episode explores a different facet of the theater, from writing and acting to costumes and music. There… Read More

Henry Mancini legacy celebrated at The Wallis

Monday, April 3rd, 2017 at 6:36 am

The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is a relatively new theater in the heart of Beverly Hills. The family of the late, Oscar-winning composer Henry Mancini assembled an incredible lineup of talent as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization on Saturday, April 1, and we were thrilled to be invited to cover it… Read More

Hans Zimmer, film-scoring professor!

Saturday, March 18th, 2017 at 1:31 pm

One of the most startling developments in the burgeoning field of film-music instruction is the “Hans Zimmer Teaches Film Scoring” online primer now available from San Francisco-based MasterClass (which has recently offered videos of Aaron Sorkin teaching screenwriting, Steve Martin teaching comedy, Kevin Spacey teaching acting, etc.). It’s a series of 31 lessons, totaling over… Read More

Menken’s Third Shot at “Beauty and the Beast”

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 at 10:38 am

Upon hearing that Disney was creating a live-action version of its animated Beauty and the Beast musical, my first thought was: What will composer Alan Menken do differently than he has already done in the now-classic 1991 original (which won him Oscars for song and score) or the 1994 Broadway stage version (which earned Tony… Read More

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In Person

  • Women composers at ASCAP Expo!

    April 15, 2017 at 7:22 am

    It was a pleasure to moderate a panel at Friday’s ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. The topic was “Women in Film Music” and the panelists included composers Lesley Barber (Manchester by the Sea), Stephanie Economou (The Zookeeper’s Wife), Carly Paradis (Line of Duty) and Pinar Toprak (The Lightkeepers). ASCAP’s Rachel Perkins also introduced Lolita Ritmanis of the Alliance for Women Film Composers and Tracy McKnight of Women in Film, who kicked off the discussion about the expanding profile of female composers for film, TV and games. It was a stimulating hour with these thoughtful, remarkable women and I was honored to be on stage with them.

  • Marni Nixon career interview

    March 23, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Last year, I was privileged to spend an afternoon interviewing Marni Nixon, the now well-known “ghost singer” whose Hollywood career included being the behind-the-scenes vocalist for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady and Natalie Wood in West Side Story. We covered those, and much more of her life and career, over nearly two hours.  That interview has now been posted on the Film Music Foundation website. She was delightful. She passed away just four months later (here is my obituary for Variety). Also on the site: a new interview with composer Rachel Portman, not done by me but based on several pages of questions I prepared for that interview.

  • On NPR’s “Here and Now”

    February 22, 2017 at 7:22 am

    On Tuesday, I chatted with Jeremy Hobson on NPR’s daily newsmagazine Here & Now about this year’s Oscar song nominees. We got to play all five — two from the musical  La La Land, one from Moana, the big Justin Timberlake hit from Trolls, and the Sting song from the documentary Jim: The James Foley Story — and discuss the pros and cons of 6,600 Academy voters trying to choose a “best song” from among five worthy nominees. Here is the link to that 11-minute piece.

  • Video interviews with Oscar-nominated composers

    February 17, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Justin Hurwitz talks about composing the songs and score for La La Land; Dustin O’Halloran discusses the complexities of writing the music for Lion with another composer on the other side of the world; and Nicholas Britell explains how a hip-hop technique informed his piano-and-violin score for Moonlight. SoundWorks Collection offered a rare opportunity to go in-depth with each of these Oscar-nominated composers, talking about the unique challenges of each film and even playing their key themes at the piano. Here is the Hurwitz video, shot in a unique North Hollywood location; here is O’Halloran, in his Los Angeles studio; and here is Britell, talking and performing in L.A.’s legendary Nightbird studio. The series is called “Road to the Oscars,” and I was delighted to be its host.

  • Interviewing Michael Giacchino on “Rogue One”

    December 19, 2016 at 7:16 am

    I have interviewed composer Michael Giacchino for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and, most often, for Variety. Yesterday was a rare instance of me doing so in a public forum. Giacchino (whose 2016 films already included Star Trek Beyond, Zootopia and Doctor Strange) joined me onstage at the Linwood Dunn theater in Hollywood for a Society of Composers & Lyricists screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As always, he was candid and funny, talking about the rushed schedule, finding the right John Williams-style sound for the film, and his plans for next year (which include Spider Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes).

  • Interviewing Burt Bacharach for “Po”

    December 1, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    It was a distinct honor to be asked to interview legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach Wednesday night before a Society of Composers & Lyricists screening of the new film Po, about a single father struggling to raise his autistic son. Joining me onstage was director John Asher, who himself has an autistic son — and whose accidental meeting of Bacharach on a plane a few months ago led the three-time Oscar winner (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Arthur) to decide not just to write a song for Po but to score the entire film. Bacharach told the tragic story of his own daughter Nikki, born prematurely in 1966 and who was only diagnosed late in life as autistic; she committed suicide in 2007. I’ll be writing in more depth about Bacharach and his score later this month for Variety.

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