Jonny Greenwood on “Phantom Thread”

Friday, February 16th, 2018 at 7:38 pm

Journalism is a funny business, and it’s changed a lot since I started in 1973. I saw Phantom Thread on November 25 and immediately felt that Jonny Greenwood’s score could be a serious Oscar contender. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have gotten an interview with him the very next day. But my story was… Read More

Analysis of the original-score Oscar race

Thursday, February 15th, 2018 at 7:40 pm

Every year Variety asks me to analyze the music races for the Academy Awards — not really handicapping them, as that entails choosing favorites, which I don’t like to do. But examining the five nominees, quoting the composers, hinting at what’s important about each, and subtly suggesting what Academy voters might be thinking. Alexandre Desplat’s… Read More

African musical sounds for “Black Panther”

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018 at 7:08 pm

This was one of my most fun Variety assignments of the year: Interviewing Swedish composer Ludwig Goransson about his music for Marvel’s Black Panther. I’ve known Ludwig since his USC days, which is where he met director Ryan Coogler; this was their third film together (after Fruitvale Station and Creed) and his most ambitious score… Read More

Russo invokes Courage for “Discovery” finale

Monday, February 12th, 2018 at 6:53 pm

On January 15, I was invited to the recording session for episode 15 of Star Trek: Discovery, the season finale of the CBS series. It was all very mysterious. All we were told was that something special would happen and that we could not give anything away until after the show aired on February 11…. Read More

Johann Johannsson, Dead at 48

Monday, February 12th, 2018 at 6:34 pm

It was a shock to receive word on Saturday morning that Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson had been found dead in his Berlin apartment. As Variety‘s resident film-music writer, it was my sad duty to talk with his manager and write the story as quickly as possible. Here is that obituary. I had known him since… Read More

Capsule looks at song, score races

Monday, February 5th, 2018 at 2:53 pm

For this week’s Variety, a week after the Oscar nomination announcements, editors asked me to summarize the nominees and their relative chances for winning. It’s a particularly tough year with at least three of the songs having a good shot and possibly even four of the five nominated scores that could win the category. This… Read More

John Morris, Mel Brooks’ composer, dead at 91

Monday, January 29th, 2018 at 7:59 am

The composer of that unforgettable violin melody at the heart of Young Frankenstein, and so many more great scores for Mel Brooks movies, died on Thursday in New York. John Morris, twice Oscar-nominated (for co-writing the hilarious Blazing Saddles song and for his heartfelt dramatic score for The Elephant Man), had long ago retired from… Read More

Oscar music nominations analysis

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018 at 11:35 am

As always on Oscar-nominations-announcement day, I have written a kind of “instant analysis” of the song and score categories — who was nominated, who was not, and a bit about the background of the nominees. The lead of my story — the fact that two major pop names, Diane Warren and Jonny Greenwood — remained… Read More

Top music agents speak!

Friday, January 19th, 2018 at 9:53 am

The music editors at Variety were intrigued about the fact that the winners of both music categories (song and score) at the Golden Globes were represented by the same agents. So I was dispatched to interview Richard Kraft and Laura Engel about what they do, how and why they happened to sign those particular clients… Read More

Mark Hamill on John Williams

Thursday, January 11th, 2018 at 9:51 am

While I was preparing my John Williams piece for Variety, I had the good fortune to connect with actor Mark Hamill, who of course plays Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films. He was so enthusiastic in his praise for the maestro, and waxed eloquent in his appreciation for film music generally, that I didn’t… Read More