You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Crystal on his relationship with Shaiman

Comedian describes working with composer

“We’re very devoted, great friends,” says actor-comedian-director Billy Crystal of Marc Shaiman. “He’s a part of the family. We’ve done all of these things professionally, but we’ve also been through ups and downs as people together.”

The two met in 1984, while Crystal starred in “Saturday Night Live” and Shaiman was a pianist writing special material for the show. Crystal was playing Sammy Davis Jr., Ringo Starr was guest host, and Shaiman helped arrange a funny number in which Crystal sang “Yellow Submarine” while Starr performed “I’ve Gotta Be Me.”

“He was so fast, so quick,” recounts Crystal, “he did a great job and we had a great time. I was touring, and I enjoyed him so much I took him out on the road.”

And when director Rob Reiner cast Crystal in “When Harry Met Sally…,” the actor suggested Shaiman as arranger of the song standards that Reiner was planning to use for the score.

“I kept calling him ‘Rain Jew’ because he knew every romantic song, every love ballad, every funny song,” recalls Crystal. “And he had a great sense of humor that would eventually flourish in movies.”

Crystal, both as producer (“City Slickers,” “My Giant”) and director (“Mr. Saturday Night,” “Forget Paris,” “61*”), has used Shaiman consistently as a composer on his movies. “I trust him. Nobody embraces a joke, or sentiment, or the combination thereof, better than Marc.”

He praises Shaiman’s “broad, crazy, farcical stuff” like “The Addams Family” as well as the music of one of his own films, “City Slickers,” where the score needed to be “funny and poignant, and there are cattle drives, all kinds of instrumentation from harmonicas to Jew’s harps.”

Shaiman is also a principal architect of Crystal’s famous Oscar-night song medleys, and won an Emmy for co-writing the 1992 material. Although many writers contributed ideas, “inevitably it would come down to Marc and I and Bruce (Vilanch), and mostly Marc.”

“He has a great Rolodex of songs in his mind, and his writing ability — the way he can rhyme things musically — is almost scary. They’ve all been very funny, and he knows how to create moments that are very theatrical at the same time. It’s a real gift to be this generation’s Sammy Cahn.”

More Film

  • Q A_Joker_Lawrence-Sher_CKK-Jordanki_fot-Maria-Kowalska_11

    'Joker’ Cinematographer on Joaquin Phoenix’s Transformative Performance

    TORUN, Poland – “Joker” cinematographer Lawrence Sher received a rockstar welcome at the EnergaCamerimage Intl. Film Festival on Monday as attendees struggled to squeeze into a standing-room only conference room for a lively and in-depth Q&A session on the making of the box office sensation. Sher appeared equally excited to be at the event. “Obviously [...]

  • Igor Drljaca, Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo

    Verve Signs 'Disappearance at Clifton Hill' Director Albert Shin (EXCLUSIVE)

    Verve has signed Albert Shin, the director of the buzzy new thriller “Disappearance at Clifton Hill,” Variety has learned. Distribution rights for the film were recently acquired by IFC Midnight and the movie is expected to open in February. “Disappearance at Clifton Hill” debuted at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. It centers on a [...]

  • John Bailey

    John Bailey Urges Cinematographers to Embrace Story Over Technology

    It’s safe to say John Bailey does not miss the trappings of the president’s office at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Speaking at a retrospective celebrating his five decades of cinematography work at Poland’s EnergaCamerimage festival, where Bailey will be honored with a lifetime achievement award this week, he told an audience [...]

  • Justin Bieber Cupid Movie

    Justin Bieber Debuts First Look at 'Cupid' Movie

    Beware of cupid’s arrow. Justin Bieber unveiled a first-look photo for “Cupid,” his upcoming animated movie from Mythos Studios. The image sees a cartooned Bieber, who will voice the god of love, on the side of a cliff with the sun setting in the background. “Cupid” will tell the story of the eponymous mythical being [...]

  • Robert De Niro

    Robert De Niro to Receive SAG Life Achievement Award

    Robert De Niro will be honored with a SAG life achievement award. The legendary actor, who currently stars in Netflix’s “The Irishman” and Warner Bros.’ “Joker,” will receive the performers’ union’s top accolade at the 26th annual SAG Awards on Jan. 19 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The award is given annually to [...]

  • Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart and Naomi

    Film Review: 'Charlie's Angels'

    Most reboots are meaningless (time to rev that franchise back up!). But the new “Charlie’s Angels,” whether it turns out to be a glittering hit or the latest expensive package to get tossed by the audience onto the trash heap of franchise fatigue, feels like a generational rite of passage. The original “Charlie’s Angels,” which [...]

  • Jay Pharaoh2016 MTV Video Music Awards,

    Jay Pharoah Joins Cast of Universal's 'All My Life' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jay Pharoah has joined the cast of Universal’s drama “All My Life.” Actors Marielle Scott and Kyle Allen will also appear in the film alongside the previously announced cast of Jessica Rothe and Harry Shum Jr. Directed by Marc Meyers, “All My Life” is inspired by the true story of Jenn Carter and her husband, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content