The latest in Variety‘s series of Billion Dollar Composers (so-called because the aggregate box-office of all their movies exceeds $1 billion) is Englishman Henry Jackman, whose music you may know from the last two Captain America movies — but who may be an awards contender for his music for the upcoming The Birth of a Nation. Jackman is a unique blend of highly trained classical composer and former pop/rock producer, and his thoughts on film music in the 21st century are fascinating. During preparation of the main story and this sidebar on eight of his most interesting scores, I also interviewed Captain America directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Birth of a Nation director Nate Parker, Jack Reacher director Ed Zwick and The Interview co-director Seth Rogen (who, predictably, offered the funniest line in either story).
Oscar- and Emmy-winning composer Michael Giacchino conducted selections from his music for the TV series Lost over two nights last week at the Ford Theatre in Los Angeles. “Tonight is for you guys,” he told the crowd of Lost fans — who had flown from all over the world to attend (Friday night’s concert sold out so quickly that the producers added a second concert, Thursday night). Series producer Carlton Cuse co-hosted the event, which also featured a fun Q&A with composer and producer before the three-hour concert (whose musicians, Giacchino noted, consisted mostly of the same performers who played on the 121 episodes of the ABC series). The crowd was wildly enthusiastic and gave Giacchino and the musicians standing ovations both nights. Here is a review of Thursday’s concert.
I am very proud to have written this story. When composer James Horner was, tragically, killed in a plane crash last year, few knew that he had already written the main themes for his next assignment, the all-star remake of The Magnificent Seven — even though shooting hadn’t even begun. His longtime collaborator Simon Franglen (whose work with Horner went all the way back to their Oscar- and Grammy-winning Titanic) decided, with the approval of director Antoine Fuqua, to complete the score using those themes as a starting point. He reassembled the Horner team — including orchestrator J.A.C. Redford, mixer Simon Rhodes and their music editors — and made it happen. For this story in Variety, I interviewed Franglen, Fuqua and Redford (with L.A. recording session photos by Dan Goldwasser).
I love putting together Variety‘s annual chart examining all the nominees in Emmy’s various music categories, because it gives me a chance to talk with the composers about the musical and dramatic challenges they face. I assembled some of the best quotes from the six nominees in Emmy’s “music composition for a limited series, movie or special” category into a story for this week’s edition. Interviewed: James Newton Howard (All the Way), Martin Phipps (War & Peace), Victor Reyes (The Night Manager), Jeff Beal (Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise), David Lawrence (Descendants) and Jeff Russo (Fargo) — all super-talented composers who deserve their nominations. And here is a story chronicling all of the Emmy winners (announced Sept. 10).
On the occasion of director Tim Burton being honored at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, I revisited much of what composer Danny Elfman has told me over the years about their long working relationship. It’s amazing when you consider the number of classic, and award-winning, scores they’ve done together over the years, including Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Mars Attacks! and more. My story leads the Tim Burton section in this week’s edition of Variety.
John Williams conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic during three weekend concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. It was, as always, hugely entertaining, with the maestro doing considerable Star Wars music and introducing a new suite of music from The BFG. Then in just a few days, he’ll be honored on Turner Classic Movies with a night of his movies plus two terrific American Film Institute specials: a commercial-free version of the Life Achievement Award dinner from earlier this year, and his conversation with Steven Spielberg that first aired in 2011. Here is a look at both events.