Latest Articles

Randy Newman Scores “Cars 3”

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 at 5:48 pm

It’s always a pleasure to interview composer Randy Newman, and even more fun to attend a recording session for one of his movie scores. Newman loves the orchestra — and they love him, as you’ll read in a story for this week’s Variety — and for Cars 3, he used no fewer than 107 musicians…. Read More

Brian Tyler’s massive new “Mummy” score

Friday, June 9th, 2017 at 6:51 am

Composer Brian Tyler (The Fate of the Furious, Avengers: Age of Ultron) penned more than two hours of music for Universal’s remake of The Mummy, including a massive orchestra and choir recorded earlier this year at London’s Abbey Road. I interviewed Brian for Variety, which asked me to place the new Mummy score in the… Read More

Emmy’s new Music Supervision category

Friday, June 2nd, 2017 at 4:51 pm

To launch this season’s Variety coverage of the Emmy race in the music categories, I talked with a TV Academy governor and five music supervisors who may be possible nominees (for such diverse series as Halt & Catch Fire, Outsiders, Empire, Star, 13 Reasons Why and Ray Donovan) in the new category of Outstanding Music… Read More

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

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In Person

  • Stephen Schwartz on “Wicked,” “Prince of Egypt”

    June 15, 2017 at 11:13 am

    For my first Variety Artisans video, I interviewed veteran musical-theater songwriter Stephen Schwartz, the recent recipient of ASCAP’s Founders Award, at the renowned Nightbird Studios in Hollywood. He talked about the ASCAP honor, discussed the status of the Wicked movie (due, we hope, in 2019), and previews a new song that he has written for the stage version of Prince of Egypt, which will debut in Palo Alto, Calif., later this fall.

  • Interviewed in new film-music doc “Score”

    June 15, 2017 at 10:49 am

    A new film on the craft of creating music for movies, Score: A Film Music Documentary, opens this weekend in New York (and next weekend in Los Angeles). It features new interviews with composers including Hans Zimmer, John Powell, Quincy Jones, Brian Tyler, John Debney, David Arnold, Rachel Portman and others; footage from earlier films featuring John Williams and Thomas Newman; and commentary from critic Leonard Maltin, agent Richard Kraft, Disney executive Mitchell Leib, record producer Robert Townson, director James Cameron, and many more. I am on camera from time to time to offer historical perspective. Filmmaker Matt Schrader filmed numerous scoring sessions in Los Angeles and London, and the result is a fast-moving, illuminating look at the art and business of movie music. You’ll see me in the trailer, which is here along with the New York Times‘ rave review.

  • Live-to-picture “Handmaid’s Tale”

    June 9, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    On Thursday I was pleased to be part of the advance showing of the season-ending cliffhanger of Hulu’s acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale. It was a special screening that included a live-to-picture performance of the score by Adam Taylor (22 musicians from the Hollywood Studio Symphony conducted by Peter Rotter). Afterwards, I conducted a Q&A with the composer about his unusual musical choices and dark soundscape for the chilling dystopian drama. Here is an overview of the event and my interview with Taylor. The Montalban Theatre was packed with nearly 1,000 Handmaid’s Tale fans; star-producer Elisabeth Moss and several of her co-stars were also on hand.

  • 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.

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