Music has always played a part in setting the tone at the Oscars and this year’s will be a little more playful.
Acclaimed composer Marc Shaiman will be returning for the second time as music director and he is definitely not new to the Academy Awards.
“I’ve been nominated for five. Never won. Big-time loser,” Shaiman said, in an Oscars’ press call organized by mtvU’s College Media Network.
Shaiman’s Oscar nominations were for scores for the films “Sleepless in Seattle,” “The American President,” “The First Wives Club,” “Patch Adams” and “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.”
Although he’s never won an Oscar, Shaiman has been a big winner at the Tony and Grammy awards, especially for his hit musical “Hairspray.”
Coincidentally, Adam Shankman, co-producer of this year’s Academy Awards, directed the film adaptation of “Hairspray.”
“Bizarrely, I first met Adam when he was a waiter at a night club where I was performing,” Shaiman said. “So I have fantastically watched as he’s gone from dancer to choreographer to film director and producer.
“And it was tremendous that fate put him as director of the musical I co-wrote,” Shaiman said.
As music director for the 82nd Academy Awards, Shaiman is in charge of anything having to do with music in the entire production.
“I had a fight with them this year about the size of the orchestra, wanting it to be, you know, the size of an orchestra that the Academy Awards should have.
“But there are budgetary concerns and set concerns. So, I’m sort of there fighting for the music. I’m the defender of music,” Shaiman said.
Besides defender of music, another role Shaiman was asked to play was the villian – the guy who plays the music to cut off acceptance speeches.
However, in the end Shaiman hired someone else to do that.
“I know the feeling of being up there at the Tony’s and the music coming on. It’s hideous,” he said. “I feel that this time limit and the idea that the music is going to cut you off has perhaps stopped the very moment we’re all kind of hoping to see, which is someone speaking from their heart, having this exhilarating moment in their life. And now I’m afraid we just see people racing, and frightened that they’re going to get cut off.”
Shaiman, one of the pioneers of introducing humor into award shows, intends to make this year’s awards a little more fun by being more creative with the music that plays as people walk onto the stage.
“You know, it’s not like there are big knee-slappers. It’s just a way to loosen things up a little. But I have to look at the presenters this year and start thinking of some hopefully clever ideas.”
Shaiman also hopes to collaborate on some parodies this year.
He’s been working with celebrities like Billy Crystal to poke fun at the audience and the films they are celebrating.
“I got to work with Jack Black and Will Ferrell on two different numbers, which were big steps, I think, for the Academy to be having fun with itself in a way.
“The first thing I did with them was write lyrics to the music that plays people off,” he said.
“So I wrote a melody, and the three of us wrote lyrics called, ‘You’re Boring.'”
Although Shaiman could not disclose any of the surprises he’s working on, his sense of humor, talent and passion for music and the entertainment industry is sure to leave its mark on the show.
If You Watch: The 82nd Academy Awards will be broadcast on ABC this upcoming Sunday at 7 p.m.