“A Star Is Born”: What about the previous versions?

Friday, October 5th, 2018 at 11:12 am

A neighbor of mine, an avid filmgoer, was surprised to learn that the current Bradley Cooper-Lady Gaga movie A Star Is Born is a remake of an earlier film (in fact, this is the third official take on the story). Variety asked me to look at the music of the prior films: the 1937 original… Read More

Music in “The Hate U Give”

Thursday, October 4th, 2018 at 7:43 pm

I hope The Hate U Give is remembered at awards time. It’s a powerful and very timely film, and Variety asked me to write two stories about its music. One was about Oscar-nominated Lion composer Dustin O’Halloran’s piano, synth and strings score, which carefully and effectively augments the songs assembled by music supervisor Season Kent…. Read More

“Mandy”: Johann Johannsson’s final score

Friday, September 14th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson, widely considered among the most interesting of the current generation of film composers, died in February at the age of 48. But the Oscar-nominated composer of The Theory of Everything, Arrival and Sicario had completed more work before his death. His final score, for Mandy — Panos Cosmatos’ wild horror-revenge thriller… Read More

The unusual musical score of “First Man”

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 at 7:57 pm

I couldn’t wait to see First Man — in part because manned spaceflight was my obsession all through the 1960s and I have very vivid memories of watching Neil Armstrong set foot upon the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, and also because I was fascinated by how director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz… Read More

John Williams’ 40th at the Hollywood Bowl

Monday, September 3rd, 2018 at 10:11 am

This weekend John Williams, the most famous composer in Hollywood history, celebrated his 40th anniversary conducting at the Hollywood Bowl. His very first concert leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Bowl was on July 28, 1978, subbing for an ailing Arthur Fiedler, who had been scheduled to conduct a pair of “Pops at the… Read More

Our annual Emmy music chart

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018 at 8:06 am

Each year, for its summertime Music for Screens section, Variety asks me to prepare a chart listing every nominee in all six music categories including a brief description of the music itself, or something relevant to the nomination. It means a lot of TV watching in July and August! And often interviewing the composers, songwriters… Read More

Emmy nominees in the music categories

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 at 9:20 am

The Television Academy announced its nominees for the 70th annual Emmy Awards on July 12. There are now six music categories in the prime-time race. My overview of the music nominees ran that morning in Variety, highlighting the possibility that an Emmy win for songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul could make them EGOTs (having… Read More

The death of Patrick Williams

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 at 10:20 am

The Hollywood community was stunned last week by the death of Grammy- and Emmy-winning composer Patrick Williams. Not only among the most talented composer-arrangers of his generation, “Pat” Williams was one of the nicest guys in the business, one of the all-time great big-band leaders and a strong supporter of music education — a rare… Read More

Music in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”

Friday, July 27th, 2018 at 10:34 am

If you’ve seen the latest Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible adventure, Fallout, there are two things you can’t miss: Cruise’s amazing stunts and Lorne Balfe’s musical score. Balfe utilizes¬† Lalo Schifrin’s classic Mission themes in practically every scene. He wrote approximately four hours of music for the film and it took an entire month to record… Read More

Music in “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018 at 9:54 am

Adam Taylor has just finished scoring the second season of the acclaimed, Emmy-winning Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale. I got to attend the final recording session for the season and was sworn to secrecy about the details of those last two episodes — but it was worth it to watch a 27-member string ensemble enhance… Read More