Legendary film composer Alfred Newman (1901-70), a pioneering force in Hollywood music, is the subject of an independent documentary about his life and work.
Newman — who in 1933 wrote the horn fanfare that’s still heard over the Fox studio’s screen logo — was associated with some 300 films, and won nine Academy Awards on 45 nominations.
Pic is being exec produced by Alex Monty Canawati and Stephanie Swengel. Canawati, also directing, started the project several years ago while attending USC film school, and has already shot interviews with many other film music luminaries, including the late composer Henry Mancini and biographer Tony Thomas.
“This is a long-overdue project for a man who shaped and molded Hollywood history and put such an important signature mark on the sound of Fox’s films,” said Canawati. Newman headed the Fox music department from 1939-59.
Among those also being interviewed for the documentary are John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Shirley Jones, Mitzi Gaynor, David Raksin and Diane Keaton, said Swengel.
Some of the notable films Newman scored include “Wuthering Heights,” “The Robe,” “How the West Was Won” and “The Song of Bernadette.” He also supervised the adaptations of the film versions of Broadway musicals such as “South Pacific,” “The King and I” and “Camelot,” eight of which resulted in Oscars.
“Not only was he one of the pioneers of film music, but it’s generally agreed that Newman was the greatest conductor in the history of Hollywood,” said Jon Burlingame, a music historian who is writing a book about the Newman clan called “The Newmans of Hollywood.”
Newman’s brothers Lionel and Emil were also film composers, as are his sons David (Fox’s animated “Anastasia”) and Thomas (“The Shawshank Redemption”) and nephew Randy (“Toy Story”). In January, Fox will dedicate the Newman Scoring Stage for the Newman family.
Canawati and Swengel plan to wrap the documentary in January. Distribution is not yet set. Research on the film continues.
“We’re looking for other celebrities or musicians who could have possibly worked with Newman, since many of his 300 films went uncredited,” said Swengel. She welcomes calls with information about Newman: (310) 369-5891.
Canawati directed independent film “Inevitable Grace,” which starred Tippi Hedren and Maxwell Caulfield, and is currently set to direct a gothic love story he co-wrote. He is repped by Kai Hand at Theatrex.
Swengel is also a producer at Fox Family Films.