On January 24th, we at Variety received word that the Oscar producers had decided to perform only two of the five Best Song nominees on the show (Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” and Kendrick Lamar’s “All the Stars,” by the two most popular recording artists). Within an hour, I had three other solid sources confirming this, so that afternoon we broke the story. (It was the lead story on Variety‘s front page for nearly a day.) The Academy denied it, of course, but the backlash was immediate and the Twitterverse blew up over it. Producers were forced to retrench, and one week later, artists from the other three songs were invited to perform. And in our most recent exclusive, we broke the news that Bette Midler would perform the nominated song from Mary Poppins Returns on the show.
This was one of my early “Billion Dollar Composer” profiles for Variety, an opportunity to profile a versatile (and well-loved) composer for film, TV and Broadway. Marc Shaiman is the funniest composer to come along since Vic Mizzy (and in fact adapted Mizzy’s classic TV theme for the movie version of The Addams Family). Here’s the main story about Marc’s career, including comments from Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner and Martin Short. Sidebars include more of Crystal on Shaiman and 10 fascinating facts chronicling landmark moments in his career.