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. That’s more than most Star Wars movies. At 73, Newman is still at the top of his game, crafting a fine, expressive, even classically styled score for the latest Pixar film (his eighth; he’s won two Oscars and been nominated six more times for his songs and scores for such previous hits as Toy Story 1, 2 and 3, A Bug’s Life and Monsters Inc.) Pixar czar John Lasseter even showed up while we were at the session, and he raves about Newman yet again.
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 context of previous musical efforts along these lines — which gave me a chance to link to excerpts from past scores by James Dietrich, Hans J. Salter, Franz Reizenstein and Jerry Goldsmith. And not only did Back Lot Music gave us an exclusive four-minute track, but Tyler clued us in to an “Easter egg” of a hat-tip to Goldsmith that he quietly inserted into his own score.
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 Supervision. Voters will judge these shows on the best use of songs (both original and licensed) in their dramatic contexts. For a second story about this year’s scores and songs, I interviewed the composers and songwriters of four of the season’s most talked-about TV shows: The Crown, Feud and Stranger Things and, for songs, that musical episode of The Flash.