Oscar-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, May 9, 2017. For a section in this week’s Variety, I asked composers who knew him and directors who worked with him for a little perspective on the man and his career. Goldsmith, whose filmography included The Sand Pebbles, Patton, Chinatown, Planet of the Apes, five Star Trek films and more than 100 others, was among the most respected composers in the history of Hollywood. Directors Joe Dante, Paul Verhoeven and Fred Schepisi contributed thoughts, as did composers David Newman, Christophe Beck and Charles Fox. Goldsmith died way too early, in 2004, and the star is not only overdue but well deserved. Here is the main story and here is a sidebar discussing 10 of his greatest scores. Finally, here is a complete rundown of the ceremony, who attended and what was said.
My editor at Variety came up with an interesting angle, and one especially relevant in today’s world of sequels, spinoffs and reboots: what’s the role of music, and how do composers decide when and where to apply themes from previous films or TV shows? For this final story in our pre-nominations Oscar-music series, I received fascinating answers from John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Thomas Newman (Spectre), Michael Giacchino (Jurassic World), Christophe Beck (The Peanuts Movie), Ludwig Goransson (Creed) and Joe Kraemer (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation).
Variety posed an interesting question: If you’re remaking a classic TV series, what role — if any — does the musical theme of that series play? Should you remind the audience of the series’ origins via its music? Is it key to a marketing plan? If the theme is not iconic, should it be jettisoned altogether in favor of a new musical approach? With The Man From U.N.C.L.E. having just opened, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation still playing strongly, and The Peanuts Movie on the horizon, I talked to the composers of all three films (Daniel Pemberton, Joe Kraemer, Christophe Beck, respectively) about the importance of music from the small-screen originals.
I walked into a scoring session for Frozen, not really knowing what to expect (except that I knew Chris Beck’s score would be great, and it was). What I found was a surprising group of musicians, songwriters, Disney animators and executives who hoped that, somehow, this long-in-gestation version of “The Snow Queen” would somehow resonate with moviegoers. (Boy, did it.) We were proud to introduce the musical ideas first, in the pages of Variety.
This was another in a series of composer profiles I’ve recently done for Variety. Chris Beck is one of those guys who has paid his dues, come up through the ranks and emerged as one of our most versatile composers (just contrast The Hangover with The Muppets). I talked to Chris, and several of his admiring directors, for the main story; visited the scoring stage for The Muppets; talked to him about working in TV, notably on Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and asked him to comment on 10 of his most interesting assignments.
For the Steve Martin remake of The Pink Panther, composer Christophe Beck not only embraced the original Henry Mancini theme, he even sought out the original saxophone player, Plas Johnson, to play the solo. I talked to them, and to the composer’s daughter Monica Mancini, for this fun story about that classic tune.