Articles

“Doctor Who”: new doctor, new composer

Friday, August 16th, 2019 at 6:15 pm

The casting of the new Doctor Who — Jodie Whitaker, who is wonderful as the first female doctor in the 55-year history of the BBC sci-fi serial — demanded a new musical approach, too. Producers recruited Segun Akinola, who holds a slightly different distinction: he’s the first person of color to score Doctor Who. I… Read More

Music for Disney remakes and sequels

Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 4:00 pm

This year Disney and Pixar have been on a roll, revisiting classics and asking their original composers to return with new music, or refreshed versions of their award-winning music from the past. Music is so critical to our appreciation of these fantastic worlds, and in each case Variety asked me to interview the Oscar-winning musical… Read More

Earle Hagen at 100

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019 at 4:31 pm

I couldn’t let the 100th anniversary of the birth of Earle Hagen — one of the most important and most successful composers in TV history — pass without a look back at his massive impact on the medium. For this Variety story, I revisited the interviews I did when the Andy Griffith Show and Dick… Read More

Composer-arranger Sid Ramin, dead at 100

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 at 5:00 pm

I knew him as the composer of the themes for The Patty Duke Show and The Trials of O’Brien back in the 1960s — and as the creator of the “Come Alive!” Pepsi Generation jingle sung so memorably by Joanie Sommers in that same era. But Sid Ramin, who died July 1 at the age… Read More

Adapting the Beatles’ music for “Yesterday”

Friday, June 28th, 2019 at 5:16 pm

One of the most interesting movie-music assignments of the year fell to composer Daniel Pemberton (Steve Jobs, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), who was recruited by director Danny Boyle to supervise all of the music, on-screen and off, in the romantic comedy Yesterday. There are 25 Beatles songs, heard in part or in their entirety, many… Read More

No Isaac Hayes music in the new “Shaft” movie?

Friday, June 14th, 2019 at 4:44 pm

An unexpected controversy arose over music in the new Shaft movie, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Roundtree and Jessie T. Usher as three generations of the Shaft family. Isaac Hayes III, son of the Oscar- and Grammy-winning soul-music icon, hoped to produce the new film’s soundtrack; but that didn’t happen, and the New Line film… Read More

Lesley Barber’s music for the film “Late Night”

Thursday, June 13th, 2019 at 5:25 pm

Canadian composer Lesley Barber (Manchester by the Sea) started work on the new Emma Thompson-Mindy Kaling comedy Late Night before shooting. Director Nisha Ganatra needed a theme for Thompson’s failing evening talk show! In this Variety story, Barber explains how she “pretended I was Paul Shaffer” to come up with a winning tune, and then… Read More

The Emmy music campaigns begin

Thursday, June 13th, 2019 at 3:09 pm

This year there are seven music categories at the Emmys, the most for any craft discipline except for editing, which has eight. For many years there were five (original music for a series; music for a TV-movie or miniseries; music direction; song; main title theme) but in the past two years the TV Academy has… Read More

John Williams’ music for “Galaxy’s Edge”

Monday, May 20th, 2019 at 3:46 pm

I loved the headline that Variety editors affixed to this story: “John Williams in Disneyland.” Well, sort of: the Imagineers who conceived and built the new Galaxy’s Edge land in the California theme park (soon to open in Florida too) convinced the legendary Star Wars composer to add one more piece to his many existing… Read More

Wynton Marsalis scores “Bolden”

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 at 5:34 pm

One of the most intriguing musical assignments of Wynton Marsalis’ career had to be scoring the music for Bolden, the dramatization of jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden’s career around the turn of the last century. No recordings of his music exists, so Marsalis essentially invented it with the help of director Dan Pritzker. He ultimately wrote… Read More