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.
The music of On the Waterfront and Casablanca were the subject of “Upbeat Live” talks I moderated on Friday and Sunday prior to the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s first-ever live-to-picture concerts of both scores at Disney Hall. David Newman, who conducted both, was on hand to offer musical insights into the classic Leonard Bernstein and Max Steiner scores. On Friday we were also joined by composer Laura Karpman, and on Sunday our guest was composer Charles Bernstein. Both Karpman and Bernstein are current governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; this past weekend’s concerts marked the first of several events in the new three-year partnership of the Phil and the Academy. I also contributed the program notes for both films (Casablanca is here; On the Waterfront is here).
Composer James Newton Howard (The Sixth Sense, The Hunger Games, pictured here) was honored with the BMI Icon award at Wednesday night’s annual film/TV honors of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), while David Newman received its Classic Contribution Award for his work conducting classic film music in concert halls around the world. I was on the red carpet again this year, conducting no fewer than 25 on-camera interviews with composers for film and TV. BMI is posting them on YouTube; here is Howard, here is Newman. And here is my story about the evening.
I have hosted American Youth Symphony film-music concerts for seven years now, but rarely has one been so much fun as Sunday’s live-to-picture performance of Michael Giacchino’s score for Star Trek: Into Darkness, conducted by (the, let’s face it, phenomenal) David Newman. The Oscar-winning composer came out at the beginning, for an interview about the challenges of scoring the Trek films (and confirming that he’ll score the next one, Beyond); and again at the end, to conduct the premier performance of his suite from this year’s delightful Pixar film Inside Out. The sellout crowd at UCLA’s Royce Hall loved it.
Last weekend marked the first time that the paying public had ever seen Steven Spielberg’s classic E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial with live musical accompaniment. (John Williams conducted a studio orchestra before an invited audience at the Shrine Auditorium in 2002.) More than 35,000 attended over three nights as David Newman conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Williams’ iconic score at the Hollywood Bowl. I wrote the program notes for the evening, but I felt it was also important to report on the event. My overview contains details you won’t find anywhere else.
Talk about a fun assignment: Last night, the Los Angeles Philharmonic played Alan Silvestri’s music for the 1985 film Back to the Future “live to picture,” with the estimable David Newman conducting. It was a near-sellout with more than 16,000 people attending, and the crowd cheered every iconic moment in the time-travel romp starring Michael J. Fox. I interviewed the composer about his memories of scoring Back to the Future — which was only his second opportunity to write for orchestra — and why he wrote another 20 minutes of music specifically for these live presentations.
It’s been a pleasure to write scripts not only for myself — both for radio and live concert appearances — but for others, especially at the Hollywood Bowl in recent years, often for their “Big Picture” nights when the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra performs movie music. This year I wrote three: for an evening of music from Alfred Hitchcock films, hosted by Eva Marie Saint (who was delightful to work with); for the Motion Picture Academy’s celebration of the “Black Movie Soundtrack”; and a last-minute polish for Jack Black’s hosting of music from DreamWorks Animation. Here find reviews of the Hitchcock show; of the Black Soundtrack evening, hosted by Craig Robinson; and of the DreamWorks bash. I often write the program notes too.
For the second installment of the American Youth Symphony’s “Danny Elfman Project,” I interviewed Elfman’s longtime agent Richard Kraft and author Jeff Bond (Danse Macabre) after a performance of the composer’s “Overeager Overture.” The evening concert offered a wide-ranging selection of Elfman music including Milk, Alice in Wonderland, Big Fish and Spider-Man, all brilliantly conducted by David Newman (seen here at right).
For the opening installment of the American Youth Symphony’s three-year “Danny Elfman Project,” I interviewed the composer after a performance of his score for the documentary Standard Operating Procedure, conducted by David Newman. Danny’s always a lively interview, and the audience loved it. That evening I hosted the concert — my fourth for the AYS — introducing Elfman’s music for Batman, Edward Scissorhands and Sommersby. Here‘s an overview of the afternoon and evening performances. The symposium was sponsored by The Film Music Society.
The third and final installment of the American Youth Symphony’s three-year “Goldsmith Project,” saluting the music of Jerry Goldsmith, was in many ways the best yet. The afternoon symposium began with a new 10-minute suite from Under Fire (1983), after which I moderated a panel with frequent Goldsmith collaborators Joe Dante and David Anspaugh plus longtime music editor Kenneth Hall, mixer Bruce Botnick and agent Richard Kraft. Conductor David Newman debuted, for the first time ever in concert, music from Jerry’s Legend (1985) as well as a new 10-minute suite from Poltergeist (1982). Here is a thorough rundown of the Sunday program; the symposium was sponsored by The Film Music Society.