It’s always a joy to interview Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the mega-hot songwriters who have already won the Oscar (for La La Land), a Tony and a Grammy (for Dear Evan Hansen). They were back in Hollywood this week to tout their Emmy-nominated work in Fox’s A Christmas Story Live! and I was honored to conduct the Q&A for the Society for Composers & Lyricists. We talked about their new song (“In the Market for a Miracle”) as well as their next major assignments, collaborating with Alan Menken on the live-action Aladdin and starting another Disney project, the live-action Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. A week after this event, Variety published my interview with the two, which you can read here.
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 won all four major show-biz awards). For an Aug. 13 story, I interviewed the nominees for Music Composition for a Series (including Game of Thrones, Jessica Jones, Once Upon a Time, SEAL Team, Star Wars Rebels and Westworld). And for an Aug. 14 story, I interviewed the nominees for Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (including Alias Grace, Black Mirror, Godless, March of the Penguins 2 and two different episodes of Electric Dreams).
The music editors at Variety were intrigued about the fact that the winners of both music categories (song and score) at the Golden Globes were represented by the same agents. So I was dispatched to interview Richard Kraft and Laura Engel about what they do, how and why they happened to sign those particular clients (composer Alexandre Desplat for The Shape of Water and songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for The Greatest Showman), and what their role is during awards season. It was fun, and the Q&A was published online this week in Variety.
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are among this country’s most talented and sought-after songwriters, so when Fox asked me to do a live Q&A with them following a Society of Composers & Lyricists screening of The Greatest Showman at 20th-Century Fox, I jumped at the chance. If you don’t know their names, you almost certainly know their music: They have already won the Oscar for La La Land and the Tony for Dear Evan Hansen, and their songs for A Christmas Story were heard during Fox’s recent live telecast of the musical. (They also wrote my favorite TV song of last year, “Runnin’ Home to You” for The Flash.) Their song “This Is Me” is certainly a contender for the Best Song Oscar.
It was a genuine thrill to be the first journalist allowed to hear the songs that Oscar- and Tony-winning tunesmiths Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have penned for the upcoming Hugh Jackman film The Greatest Showman (debuting at Christmas), a musical biopic of the legendary P.T. Barnum. It’s the lead music story in this week’s Variety, and includes a brief look at four of the songs, plus interviews with the songwriters, Jackman and director Michael Gracey. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Pasek & Paul are today’s hottest musical-theater writers, only a few months after winning Oscars for La La Land and Tonys for Dear Evan Hansen. Plus they are really terrific guys who have an amazing sense of musical-theater history.