It’s always a pleasure to interview composer Randy Newman, and even more fun to attend a recording session for one of his movie scores. Newman loves the orchestra — and they love him, as you’ll read in a story for this week’s Variety — and for Cars 3, he used no fewer than 107 musicians. That’s more than most Star Wars movies. At 73, Newman is still at the top of his game, crafting a fine, expressive, even classically styled score for the latest Pixar film (his eighth; he’s won two Oscars and been nominated six more times for his songs and scores for such previous hits as Toy Story 1, 2 and 3, A Bug’s Life and Monsters Inc.) Pixar czar John Lasseter even showed up while we were at the session, and he raves about Newman yet again.
Composer Thomas Newman — whose 13 Oscar nominations include scores for Pixar’s Finding Nemo and WALL-E — has returned to the Disney/Pixar fold for the sequel Finding Dory, which focuses on the sweet blue tang with short-term memory loss (again voiced by Ellen DeGeneres). This time Dory is determined to find her parents, an odyssey that takes her across the ocean to a California aquarium. For a Variety story about Newman’s music, and his third time tackling an animated film directed by Andrew Stanton, I interviewed both composer and director during the recording sessions at Sony and at later mixing sessions at The Village in West L.A.
It must be awards season, because the screenings are now nonstop and I’m being asked to conduct composer Q&As almost every week. This week it was the new Disney/Pixar film The Good Dinosaur, which has a unique score by composers Mychael and Jeff Danna; the Society of Composers & Lyricists sponsored the well-attended screening. The Montana-like landscapes helped inspire them to create a folk-style score that includes fiddles, guitars, hymn-like piano and other “Western” sounds (along with the usual 85-piece orchestra for the bigger, grander moments in the score). The Dannas were, as always, thoughtful and gracious. Here, too, is my on-camera interview with them for SoundWorks Collection.