Articles

“American in Paris” at the Hollywood Bowl

Thursday, September 12th, 2019 at 6:52 am

Every summer, the Hollywood Bowl becomes a showcase for film music — sometimes live-to-picture concerts, sometimes potpourri evenings of classic movie music, always an end-of-summer bash featuring the legendary John Williams. It’s been my pleasure (for more than 20 years now) to provide program notes for many of these evenings, as these concerts often feature… Read More

Controversy over the music-supervision category

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 at 7:14 pm

Last year, the Television Academy added a music supervision category to its many Emmy craft fields. Then, the newly admitted music supervisors could vote only in that category; this year, they can vote in all seven music categories, including four composition fields, which has many composer members up in arms. Considerable resentment is simmering in… Read More

Detailed look at all the Emmy music nominees

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Every year at this time, Variety asks me to view all of the Emmy nominees in the music categories, interview as many as possible, and write a bit about their accomplishment. It’s gotten more complicated as the years have gone by, as there are now seven categories (music composition for a series, for a miniseries… Read More

“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