Latest Articles

“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

20th Century-Fox organ found and restored!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018 at 6:41 pm

This was maybe my favorite story so far this year. Composer Nathan Barr (The Americans) loves mechanical musical instruments from the early 20th century. So he went after the biggest one imaginable: a Wurlitzer organ from the silent-movie era. And not just any Wurlitzer: the one that, from 1928 to 1997, resided on the scoring… Read More

This year’s Emmy music races

Friday, June 1st, 2018 at 10:30 am

It’s only a matter of weeks after Oscar season ends that Emmy season begins. I know, it’s hard to believe, but within the industry — especially the many publicists we deal with on a daily basis — the calendar year has become one long awards season. Still, Emmy season is a great way to catch… Read More

Powell, Franco honored at ASCAP screen awards

Thursday, May 24th, 2018 at 7:01 pm

Composers John Powell and Germaine Franco took top honors at this week’s ASCAP Screen Music Awards. Powell won the Henry Mancini award for lifetime achievement as a film composer (for such scores as How to Train Your Dragon, The Bourne Identity and Solo: A Star Wars Story), while Franco (songwriter for Coco, currently scoring TV’s… Read More

John Powell talks about his “Solo” score

Thursday, May 24th, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Composer John Powell, the much-respected Oscar nominee for How to Train Your Dragon (and such other delightful animated scores as Happy Feet, Rio and Ferdinand), reviewed the entire Solo: A Star Wars Story experience with me for this Variety story, which ran the day before the film opened. It’s a fascinating odyssey that involves collaboration… Read More

The R-rated “Deadpool 2” score

Thursday, May 17th, 2018 at 5:00 pm

According to the Sony Classical label which released it, the soundtrack album for Deadpool 2 is the first score soundtrack in history to be released with a “parental advisory” warning on its front cover. That alone was reason enough to check out the movie, the score and the album, and composer Tyler Bates was kind… Read More

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In Person

  • 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.

  • Quoted in TV Guide!

    April 30, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    You never know when an old colleague will reach out and ask about something within your particular area of expertise. I’ve known TV critic David Bianculli for many years, ages ago at the New York Daily News and now as frequent host of NPR’s Fresh Air and editor-in-chief of TVWorthWatching.com. I have enormous respect for him, and when he called a while back to talk about the theme for TV’s Twilight Zone, I had no idea that it would wind up as part of his tribute to television themes in the current TV Guide. But I am delighted, and it’s the first time (in over 30 years of writing about TV) that I’ve been quoted in that venerable publication.

  • “Counterpart” Q&A with composer Jeff Russo

    April 25, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Composer Jeff Russo (Fargo, Star Trek: Discovery) has scored the intriguing new sci-fi thriller Counterpart for the STARZ network. I moderated an hour-long Society of Composers & Lyricists discussion about the show and its music with Russo and executive producer Jordan Horowitz. Russo’s main-title theme and score are surprisingly intimate, with a chamber-music sound owing to his use of a string quartet for much of the series.

  • Interviewing composer David Amram

    March 15, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    The extraordinary composer David Amram was in town this week, so the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Film Music Foundation took advantage of his presence to add him to their Visual History archives. I was asked to conduct the interview, which meant an intense research weekend immersing myself in his films (among them The Manchurian Candidate, Splendor in the Grass and The Young Savages), re-reading his autobiography, and listening to as much of his music as possible. It may be a while before the interview is available for viewing, but rest assured he talks about Elia Kazan, John Frankenheimer, Jack Kerouac, Leonard Bernstein, Charlie Parker, and many of the other amazing people with whom he has crossed paths over his 87 years.

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