×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscars Support the Press During ‘The Empty Chair’ Performance

Both in tribute to the lost journalist and in demonstration of the power of music, Sting took to the Oscar stage to perform the best song nominee “The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story.”

At the end of his touching solo performance, a shot of Foley was projected on the stage with his quote, “If I don’t have the moral courage to challenge authority … we don’t have journalism.”

The quote was especially timely given that President Trump just banned several news outlets, including CNN and the New York Times, from White House briefings.

The film tells the story of journalist and war correspondent James “Jim” Foley, who was captured first by pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya before ISIS kidnapped him in 2012. The first imprisonment lasted 44 days, while the latter ended tragically after two years in captivity.

Foley was beheaded by ISIS militants in August 2014, who also released a video showing the crime and a message to then-President Barack Obama.

For the song, composer J. Ralph approached Sting to write, thinking his sensitivity and calming voice would be a perfect companion to the theme he had composed. Together, they performed the song for Foley’s family, friends, and fellow prisoners (all of whom were interviewed for the film) at Sundance. Sting re-recorded the song in a different key for his latest album, “57th & 9th.”

Ralph, a celebrated documentary composer, has been nominated in the best song category three times now; he was previously nominated for 2012’s “Chasing Ice” and 2015’s “Racing Extinction.”

“I’ve focused a lot on social documentaries, things about the war or the environment or species extinction or medical issues,” composer J. Ralph previously told Variety. “One of the ways to help people relate to these issues is with a song. A song can help create a bigger connection in a way that facts and figures and talking heads can’t do.”

“It’s probably harder to write a song for a documentary than a blockbuster,” Sting added. “The parameters are much more defined. If you’re writing a song for [a fiction feature], they want a top-40 hit, you don’t necessarily have to do much with the plot, it’s just a vibe. Writing for a documentary demands a lot more thought and effort.”

More Film

  • ‘Wonder Park’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad

    ‘Wonder Park’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending for the Fourth Week in a Row

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the fourth week in row with “Wonder Park.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.18 million through Sunday for 1,718 national [...]

  • Michael B. Jordan Jordan Vogt-Roberts

    Film News Roundup: Michael B. Jordan, Jordan Vogt-Roberts Team for Monster Movie

    In today’s film news roundup, Michael B. Jordan is producing a creature feature, billiards champ Cisero Murphy is getting a movie, the sixth Terminator movie gets a title, and Graham King receives an honor. PROJECT UNVEILED New Regency and Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society are partnering on an untitled monster movie from “Kong: Skull Island” [...]

  • Nicolas Cage

    Nicolas Cage to Star in Martial Arts Actioner 'Jiu Jitsu'

    Nicolas Cage will star in the martial arts actioner “Jiu Jitsu,” based on the comic book of the same name. The cast will also include Alain Moussi, who stars in the “Kickboxer” franchise. Dimitri Logothetis is producing with Martin Barab and directing from a script he wrote with Jim McGrath. Highland Film Group is handling [...]

  • Chinese success of Thai film "Bad

    Chinese, Thai Shingles Pact for Co-Production Fund at FilMart

    A deal to establish a 100 million yuan ($14.9 million) co-production fund between China and Thailand was struck at FilMart on Tuesday to help launch TV and film projects that will appeal to Chinese and Southeast Asian audience. The deal that was struck by China’s Poly Film Investment Co., TW Capital from Thailand and Thai [...]

  • Kevin Tsujihara

    Kevin Tsujihara's Ouster Kicks Off a Week of Major Disruption in the Media Business

    The sudden ouster of Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara kicked off what is likely to go down as one of the most extraordinary weeks in Hollywood history, spelling enormous turmoil and transition across the media landscape. In addition to the news about Tsujihara, which comes amid a wider shake-up of leadership at AT&T’s WarnerMedia, [...]

  • Buddha in Africa

    More Than Half of Films at Hot Docs Film Festival Are Directed by Women

    More than half of the films playing at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, are directed by women, the Canadian event said Tuesday. The festival’s 26th edition, which runs April 25-May 5, will screen 234 films, with 54% of the directors being women. In the competitive International Spectrum program, notable films receiving their world [...]

  • Korean Distributors Fight for Box Office

    Korean Distributors Fight for Box Office Market Share

    Korean distributors are having to fight ever harder for their share of Korea’s theatrical market share. Threats on the horizon include a slide in the performance of local movies, consolidation, the arrival of new players and the challenge from streaming services. South Korea’s theatrical box office is now bigger than that of France or Germany despite [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content