ACCOMPANYING the successful opening of Universal’s “The Paper” is Randy Newman’s evocative soundtrack for Ron Howard’s New York newsroom drama starring Michael Keaton, Robert Duvall and Glenn Close. The orchestral score reflects the story’s office vs. home conflict, hence the end-title track “Make Up Your Mind,” the Warner Bros. disc’s stand-out cut and Newman’s current single.
Keaton’s character “is struggling with a choice, so in its way, the song also captures the feeling of the movie. In essence, the song is about that kind of decision you make between family and career which comes up everyday,” Newman said from his home studio, where he’s in the midst of scoring Warner Bros.’ “Maverick” for director Richard Donner.
“I particularly like the film’s message because I’ve got a 2-year-old and an 8-month-old who’s rolling around upset all the time,” Newman said. “So when I decided to go to work, I (said to myself), ‘Show business has made me go down the bad road.’ ”
At least it’s a road paved with success. Newman’s six previous film composing projects have garnered him Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy nominations: “Avalon, “”Parenthood,””Ragtime” and “The Natural,” with the last winning a Grammy for instrumental composition written for a film.
He made his 1971 scoring debut — for Norman Lear’s comedy “Cold Turkey”– because “it was kind of the family business.”
Now, Newman’s pleased that “The Paper” has permitted him to follow in the footsteps of his uncles Alfred and Lionel Newman, noted composers of such N.Y.-themed films as “Broadway Melody” (’36 and ’40) and “Tin Pan Alley.”
“There’s a long tradition of movie composers doing New York,” he says, “so I was glad to have a chance to try to portray the big city. It was a different sort of job for me: more rhythmic, less lyrical. It’s rock ‘n’ roll with an orchestra and saxophones.”
Newman’s lush and lengthy “Maverick” score will have more in common with his previous period pieces, but with a bigger-than-life Western gait, a new song (“Ride Gambler Ride”) and a sidekick project: a non-soundtrack Atlantic album of country songs “inspired by” the film, by such artists as Clint Black, and perhaps even city-slicker Newman.
He’ll also be singing big-screen songs written for two animated features: Disney’s “Toy Story” (’95) and Hanna-Barbera’s “Cats Don’t Dance” (’96), which will also include Newman’s acting debut as Wally the Mammoth, a slothful songwriter. “Scoring (for animation) has got to be the all-time scariest thing I’ve ever done,” he says.
Tackling yet another medium, Newman’s Broadway dreams will partially come true this fall when Warner Bros. Records releases “Faust,’ an all-star CD of songs for a nearly completed musical comedy. “I’ve fixed Goethe’s old version,” Newman jokes of his self-penned script and music to eventually be produced on Broadway by Lorne Michaels.
On the record only, the vocal cast includes Newman as the devil, Don Henley as a youthful Faust, James Taylor as the Lord, Elton John as a bitter angel, Linda Ronstadt as Faust’s girlfriend, Margaret, and Bonnie Raitt as Margaret’s friend, Martha.
“But none of us can act,” says Newman, who has no idea who will play the parts on stage. , but can’t wait to see his musical realized. “I just want — before I pass away — to see if I can do it. And who knows? It’s so different from what people are liking now.”
THE NEW JERSEY hospital that provided care for Dizzy Gillespie during the last years of his life is providing free medical services for indigent jazz musicians with the hope hospitals in other cities will follow suit. It is the first program of its type in the country.
The Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, in association with the Jazz Foundation of America, instituted the program last week after several months of discussion. A February concert featuring Gillespie’s protegee Jon Faddis and saxophonist George Coleman assisted in the start-up of the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund.
The Jazz Foundation wasfounded in 1989 to aid needy musicians. “Using Englewood Hospital as the model,” said foundation president Herb Storfer, “it is our intent to roll this concept across the country, aiding jazz musicians in other major cities.”
Gillespie was 75 when he died last year of pancreatic cancer. Just before his death, Gillespie asked that both a memorial and a foundation be set up to assist cancer patients and musicians. The hospital opened the Dizzy Gillespie Cancer Institute last year.
L.A. SEEN: World Domination Records threw a release party for local band Stanford Prison Experiment recently at the Dragonfly on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. The club, with its exotic Art Nouveau interior and tented ceiling, provided a stark contrast to the band, who play staccato, full-throttle punk rock.
The band’s eponymously titled CD, which is out now, reflects the group’s chaotic stage abandon. L.A. locals and faves on the scene for quite some time, the band played to a full, sweaty, moshing house, which included fine art photographers Ed Colver and Lindsay Brice, members of Terror Train, promoters Tequila Mockingbird and Monte Hudson, and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.
Meanwhile, across town on the same night, the Derby held its one year anniversary party. Entertainment was provided by the vintage Cab Calloway and Dorothy Dandridge videos showing non-stop on the walls, as well as the live jumpin’ jive of the big-band-influenced Royal Crown Revue, one of the Derb’s house bands.
Along with almost every rock journalist in town, guests included FBI’s Gabriel Bloom, session player Eddie Beytos and members of Dramarama. Derby owner Tammy Gower looked stunning in a black lace mini-dress and opera-length gloves.
VAN HALEN gave a solid, hit-driven concert April 17 at the Los Angeles Hard Rock Cafe as part of a benefit concert-auction and golf tournament that raised more than $ 275,000 for the UCLA School of Medicine, Pediatric Kidney Research Center. Eddie Van Halen started on the project a year ago after his guitar maker’s 5-year-old son, Casey Ball, needed a kidney transplant.
“I went to UCLA and saw how many kids are affected by this,” Van Halen said before the auctioning of guitars signed by Paul McCartney, George Harrison, the Rolling Stones and others. “I knew something had to be done.”
Among the celebrities attending the concert portion of the Hard Rock Cafe/Eddie Van Halen Charity Golf Tournament were Bill Murray, Dweezil Zappa, Faith Ford, Valerie Bertinelli and Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly.
Van Halen said his band would be entering the studio before the end of the month to start on their 11th album. It’s expected to be released before the Christmas onslaught of big-name discs.