Articles

Music in “Green Book”

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Although it wasn’t eligible for an original-score nomination — Kris Bowers’ 20 minutes of score was insufficient by comparison with all the other music in the film — Green Book still managed to be one of the year’s toughest assignments for a composer. That’s because Bowers came aboard early, trained actor Mahershala Ali in how… Read More

Composer Michel Legrand, dead at 86

Sunday, January 27th, 2019 at 1:31 pm

French composer Michel Legrand — the genius behind such unforgettable movie songs as “I Will Wait for You,” “The Windmills of Your Mind,” “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” and others — died Jan. 26 in Paris. I adored his scores as much as his songs, ranging from classics like The Umbrellas… Read More

Program notes for LA Phil’s John Williams concerts

Sunday, January 27th, 2019 at 8:05 am

I was honored to be asked to pen the program notes for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s four-day series of concerts paying tribute to the great John Williams. Gustavo Dudamel conducted a thrilling greatest-hits collection of music that included four of his Oscar winners (Jaws, Star Wars, E.T., Schindler’s List), popular movie hits (Close Encounters, Raiders,… Read More

Oscar nominations for best song and score

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019 at 2:18 pm

Waking up on Oscar morning to find out the nominees is exciting enough — racing to be the first online with a thoughtful, historically informed analysis can make the heart beat even faster. This year was no exception, and our initial breakdown of the nominees was up within an hour of the announcement. It took… Read More

Nick Redman, dead at 63

Friday, January 18th, 2019 at 5:57 pm

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Nick Redman, a close friend for nearly 30 years and a collaborator on dozens of film and record projects, died on January 17. He was only 63, and while he had been battling cancer for the past two years, we all thought he’d be around much longer. He was a… Read More

Arturo Sandoval scores “The Mule”

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019 at 6:44 pm

One of the world’s great jazz trumpeters has a secret desire: to set aside the instrument and transition into a new career of writing music for movies. Arturo Sandoval recently wrote the underscore for Clint Eastwood’s The Mule — for which he also played the trumpet and penned the delightful Latin-infused source music. We visited… Read More

Classic soundtrack releases: best of the year

Sunday, December 30th, 2018 at 6:42 pm

Every December I review the top 20 “classic soundtrack” albums: expanded reissues, first-time releases of great film music of the past, and re-recordings. This year, for the first time, Variety agreed to publish it. It’s a bounty of great movie music, including four John Williams scores, three by Jerry Goldsmith, more by Dave Grusin and… Read More

The Oscar “shortlists”

Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 7:16 pm

On Dec. 17, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences released its “shortlists” of movie songs and scores that will be eligible for nomination for this year’s Oscars. It’s the first time since 1979 that they’ve used this process — narrowing voters’ choices from the 156 qualified scores and 90 qualifying songs down to… Read More

Ups and downs for music as awards season begins

Sunday, December 9th, 2018 at 8:31 am

In a little over a week, we’ve seen the Golden Globe nominations for song and score; the Grammy nominations which, with its offbeat eligibility year, combines the best of this year with last; and the news about scores that were disqualified, for various reasons, from Oscar consideration. Here are three stories I wrote for Variety… Read More

Celebrating 40 years of Varese Sarabande records

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 at 8:04 am

The venerable Varese Sarabande company — long seen as Hollywood’s leading soundtrack label — celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, so Variety asked me to look back at its history, interview composers about its impact, and research its biggest hits. It was a surprisingly fun assignment, as its full backstory had not previously been told:… Read More