Four hundred members of L.A.’s film-music community attended Thursday night’s official opening of the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox.Restored and upgraded at a cost of $4 million, the scoring facility has been renamed for the men who supervised and conducted music at the studio for several decades — nine-time Oscar-winning composer Alfred Newman, who headed the department from 1939-59; his brother Lionel, who succeeded him, running it until 1985 and winning one Oscar; and their brother Emil, who frequently conducted there. Composer John Williams, who performed on the old stage as a studio musician for Alfred Newman and who was close friends with Lionel Newman, called the site “a temple of popular art” and praised its restoration as “a significant moment for Hollywood.” Said Fox exec VP of music Robert Kraft: “This stage is a national treasure as well as a landmark for film music. In some small way, this work preserves the analog, acoustic aspects of making movie music. Fox is saying we believe in the 100-year tradition of orchestras playing for motion pictures.” Many members of the Newman family were on hand for the event, including Alfred’s widow, Martha Newman Ragland; Lionel’s widow, Beverly, and next-generation film composers Randy Newman (Alfred’s nephew), David Newman and Thomas Newman (Alfred’s sons). Built in 1928 as a shooting stage for Fox Movietone Pictures, the space became a music-scoring facility in 1936. The renovation restores the room to its original 7,500-square-foot size (about a third of which was taken away with the installation of a modern control room in 1975). The year-long construction project required breaking through the walls of Stage 2 next door to create what scoring engineer John Rotondi called “the largest purposely built music mixing room in the world,” complete with a 96-channel console.
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