Newman, Thomas 1955–

views updated May 23 2018

NEWMAN, Thomas 1955–


Full name, Thomas Montgomery Newman; born October 20, 1955, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Alfred Newman (a film composer); brother of David Newman (a film composer); nephew of Emil and Lionel Newman (both film composers); cousin of Randy Newman (a film composer, songwriter, and performer); married Ann Marie Zirbes (a musician; some sources spell name Anne Marie Zerbes); children: Evan, Julia, Jack. Education: University of Southern California, B.A.; Yale University, M.A.


Agent—Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, 13245 Riverside Dr., Suite 450, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423.


Composer, orchestrator, and musician. Composer of music for various productions, such as the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, and the 2001 Winter Olympic Games, Salt Lake City, UT. Composer of music used in promotions, including trailers for films and commercials for television productions. The Innocents (rock band), former keyboard player and recording artist; also a performer with the improvisational music group Tokyo 77.

Awards, Honors:

BMI Film Music Award, BMI Film and Television awards, 1987, for Gung Ho; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding achievement in main title theme music, 1991, for Against the Law; BMI Film Music Award, 1993, for Fried Green Tomatoes; BMI Film Music Award, 1994, for Scent of a Woman; Academy Award nomination, best musical score, and Grammy Award nomination, best instrumental composition written for a motion picture or for television, both 1995, for The Shawshank Redemption; BMI Film Music Award, and Academy Award nomination, best musical score, both 1995, for Little Women; Academy Award nomination, best original musical or comedy score, 1996, and Grammy Award nomination, best instrumental composition written for a motion picture or for television, 1997, both for Unstrung Heroes; BMI Film Music Award, 1997, for Phenomenon; Australian Film Institute Award, best original score, 1998, and Film Critics Circle of Australia Award nomination, best music score, 1999, both for Oscar and Lucinda; Saturn Award nomination, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, best music, 1999, for Meet Joe Black; BMI Film Music Award, 1999, for The Horse Whisperer; Richard Kirk Career Achievement Award, BMI Film and Television awards, 2000; BMI Film Music Award and Saturn Award nomination, best music, both 2000, for The Green Mile; BMI Film Music Award, 2000, for Erin Brockovich; Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, BMI Film Music Award, Academy Award nomination, best original score, Golden Globe Award nomination, best original score for a motion picture, Sierra Award nomination, Las Vegas Film Critics Society, best score, and Online Film Critics Society Award nomination, best original score, all 2000, and Grammy Award, best soundtrack album for a motion picture, television, or other visual media, 2001, all for American Beauty; Emmy Award, outstanding main title theme music, 2002, Grammy awards, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, best instrumental composition and best instrumental arrangement, 2002, and BMI Cable awards, BMI Film and Television awards, 2002 and 2003, all for Six Feet Under; BMI Film Music Award, Academy Award nomination, best original score, and World Soundtrack Award nomination, best original soundtrack of the year, all 2003, for Road to Perdition; Annie Award, International Animated Film Society, outstanding music in an animated feature production, BMI Film Music Award, Academy Award nomination, best original score, Golden Satellite Award nomination, International Press Academy, best original score, and Saturn Award nomination, best music, all 2004, for Finding Nemo; Academy Award nomination, best original score, 2005, for Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events"; Grammy Award nomination, best score, 2005, for Angels in America.


Film Orchestrator:

(Uncredited) Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi (also known as Return of the Jedi and Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1983.

(Uncredited) The Man with One Red Shoe, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1985.

(Uncredited) Less Than Zero, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1987.

American Buffalo, Samuel Goldwyn, 1996.

Film Conductor:

Orchestra conductor, Whispers in the Dark, Paramount, 1992.

Music conductor, The Salton Sea, Warner Bros., 2002.

Film Music Performer:

"Suite Streets from 'Quicksilver,'" Quicksilver, Columbia, 1986.

Pianist on the score for several of his films.

Film Appearances:

All about Alfred (documentary), c. 1999.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

(In archive footage) The 77th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2005.



Several Newman film scores have been released as recordings. Newman has served as the pianist for several of these recordings.


Himself, Hope Springs Eternal: A Look Back at "The Shawshank Redemption," Warner Home Video, 2004.


Film Music:

Grandview, U.S.A., Warner Bros., 1984.

(And song "It's So Incredible") Revenge of the Nerds, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1984.

(And song "Understanding Gravity") Reckless, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1984.

Desperately Seeking Susan, Orion, 1985.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun, New World, 1985.

The Man with One Red Shoe, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1985.

Real Genius, TriStar, 1985.

Gung Ho (also known as Working Class Man), Paramount, 1986.

Jumpin' Jack Flash, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1986.

"Suite Streets from 'Quicksilver,'" Quicksilver, Columbia, 1986.

Less Than Zero, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1987.

Light of Day, TriStar, 1987.

The Lost Boys, Warner Bros., 1987.

The Great Outdoors, Universal, 1988.

The Prince of Pennsylvania, New Line Cinema, 1988.

Cookie, Warner Bros., 1989.

Men Don't Leave, Warner Bros., 1990.

Naked Tango (also known as Tempo desnudo), New Line Cinema, 1990.

Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, Paramount, 1990.

Career Opportunities (also known as One Wild Night), Universal, 1991.

Deceived, Buena Vista, 1991.

Fried Green Tomatoes (also known as Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe), Universal, 1991.

The Linguini Incident, Academy Pictures, 1991.

The Rapture, Fine Line, 1991.

The Player, Fine Line, 1992.

Scent of a Woman, Universal, 1992.

Whispers in the Dark, Paramount, 1992.

Flesh and Bone, Paramount, 1993.

Josh and S.A.M., Columbia, 1993.

Song "Liar's Polka," Grumpy Old Men, Warner Bros., 1993.

Corrina, Corrina, New Line Cinema, 1994.

The Favor (also known as The Favour and The Indecent Favour), Orion, 1994.

Little Women, Columbia, 1994.

The Shawshank Redemption, Columbia, 1994.

Threesome, TriStar, 1994.

The War, Universal, 1994.

How to Make an American Quilt (also known as An American Quilt), Universal, 1995.

Unstrung Heroes, Buena Vista, 1995.

American Buffalo, Samuel Goldwyn, 1996.

The People vs. Larry Flynt (also known as Larry Flynt), Columbia, 1996.

Phenomenon, Buena Vista, 1996.

Up Close and Personal (also known as Up Close and Personal: The Jessica Savitch Story), Buena Vista, 1996.

Mad City, Warner Bros., 1997.

Oscar and Lucinda, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1997.

Red Corner, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1997.

The Horse Whisperer, Buena Vista, 1998.

Meet Joe Black, Universal, 1998.

American Beauty, DreamWorks, 1999.

The Green Mile (also known as Stephen King's "The Green Mile"), Warner Bros., 1999.

Music from the film Flesh and Bone, Three Kings, Warner Bros., 1999.

Erin Brockovich, Universal, 2000.

My Khmer Heart (documentary), Direct Cinema Limited, 2000.

Pay It Forward, Warner Bros., 2000.

In the Bedroom, Miramax, 2001.

The Execution of Wanda Jean, Seventh Art Releasing, 2002.

Road to Perdition, DreamWorks, 2002.

The Salton Sea, Warner Bros., 2002.

White Oleander (also known as Weisser Oleander), Warner Bros., 2002.

Finding Nemo (animated), Buena Vista, 2003.

Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (also known as Lemony Snicket), Paramount, 2004.

Near the End of August (short film), 2004.

The Cinderella Man, Universal, 2005.

Jarhead, Universal, 2005.

Television Music; Series:

The Paper Chase (also known as The Paper Chase: The Second Year, The Paper Chase: The Third Year, The Paper Chase: The Fourth Year, and The Paper Chase: The Graduation Year), CBS, 1978–79, Showtime, 1983–86.

Theme music, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, NBC, 1985–86, USA Network, 1987–88.

Arli$$, HBO, 1996–2002.

Main theme music, Boston Public, Fox, 2000–2004.

Main title theme music, Six Feet Under, HBO, 2001—.

Television Music; Miniseries:

Angels in America, HBO, 2003.

Katedralen 1.z, 2004.

Television Music; Movies:

The Seduction of Gina (also known as Another High Roller), CBS, 1984.

Heat Wave, TNT, 1990.

Citizen Cohn, HBO, 1992.

Those Secrets, ABC, 1992.

Television Music; Specials:

Summer's End, Showtime, 1986.

"Horse Whisperer," Visions of Grace: Robert Redford and "The Horse Whisperer," Lifetime, 1998.

"Any Other Name," 3.z (also known as 3.z—gensyn med vennerne), 2002.

Television Music; Episodic:

"Santa '85," Amazing Stories (also known as Stephen Spielberg's "Amazing Stories"), NBC, 1985.

Television Music; Pilots:

Against the Law, Fox, 1990.

Writings for the Stage:

Composer for Three Mean Fairy Tales (staged workshop production), Stuart Ostrow Foundation; and for off–Broadway and other theatrical productions. Composer for the bands The Innocents and Tokyo 77.

Video Music:

Music from The Green Mile, Walking the Mile (documentary; also known as Walking the Mile: The Making of "The Green Mile"), Warner Home Video, 2000.

Music from The Shawshank Redemption, Hope Springs Eternal: A Look Back at "The Shawshank Redemption," Warner Home Video, 2004.


Several Newman film scores have been released as recordings.


Contributor to periodicals, including Film Score Monthly.



International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 4: Writers and Production Artists, 4th edition, St. James Press, 2000.


Los Angeles Time Magazine, January 26, 2003, p. 6.

Variety, August 16, 2004, p. S46.

Newman, Thomas

views updated May 18 2018

NEWMAN, Thomas

Composer. Nationality: American. Born: 20 October 1955. Family: Married to Ann Marie. Education: University of Southern California where he studied with Frederick Lesemann and David Raksin; Yale where he studied with Jacob Druckman, Bruce MacCombie, and Robert Moore, with a masters in musical composition. Career: Played keyboard in The Innocents rock band; composed first feature score for James Foley's Reckless, 1984; composed music for Amazing Stories TV series, 1985; commissioned to create a seven-minute symphonic piece, "Reach Forth Our Hands" for the city of Cleveland bicentennial, 1996. Awards: Australian Film Institute Award, Best Original Music Score, for Oscar and Lucinda, 1998. Agent: Gorfaine and Schwartz Agency, 13245 Riverside Drive, Suite 450, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423–2172, U.S.A.

Films as Composer


Reckless (Foley); Revenge of the Nerds (Kanew); Grandview U.S.A. (Kleiser); The Seduction of Gine (Another High Roller) (Freedman)


Real Genius (Coolidge) The Man With One Red Shoe (Dragoti); Desperately Seeking Susan (Seidelman); Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Metter)


Jumpin' Jack Flash (Marshall); Gung Ho (Working Class Man) (Howard)


The Lost Boys (Schumacher); Light of Day (Schrade); Less Than Zero (Kanievska)


The Prince of Pennsylvania (Nyswaner); The Great Outdoors) (Deutch)


Cookie (Seidelman)


Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (Abrahams); Naked Tango (Schrade); Men Don't Leave (Brickman); Heat Wave (—for TV) (Hooks)


Deceived (Harris); Career Opportunities (One Wild Night) (Gordon); The Rapture (Tolkin); The Linguini Incident (Shepard); Fried Green Tomatoes (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe) (Avnet)


Whispers in the Dark (Crowe); Scent of a Woman (Brest/Smithee); Those Secrets (—for TV) (Manson); The Player (Altman); Citizen Cohn (—for TV) (Pierson)


Josh and S. A. M (Weber); Flesh and Bone (Kloves)


The War (Avnet); Threesome (Fleming); The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont); Little Women (Armstrong); The Favor (Petrie); Corrina, Corrina (themes) (Nelson)


Unstrung Heroes (Keaton); How to Make an American Quilt (Moorhouse)


Up Close & Personal (Dansie); Phenomenon (Turteltaub); American Buffalo (Corrente); The People vs. Larry Flint (Forman)


Mad City (Costa-Gauras); Red Corner (Avnet); Oscar and Lucinda (Armstrong)


The Horse Whisperer (Redford); Meet Joe Black (Brest/Smithee)


American Beauty (Mendes); The Three Kings (Russell); The Green Mile (Stephen King's The Green Mile) (Darabont)


Erin Brokovich; My Khmer Heart


By NEWMAN: articles—

"Thomas Newman Continues to Be Interesting and Good," an interview with Doug Adams, in Film Score Monthly, no. 162, Winter 1996.

On NEWMAN: articles—

"Little Women," review in Entertainment Weekly, 3 February 1995.

"How to Make an American Quilt," review in National Review, 23 October 1995.

"The People vs. Larry Flynt," review in Entertainment Weekly, 13 December 1996.

"The People vs. Larry Flynt," review in The New Republic (New York), 20 January 1997.

"Oscar and Lucinda," review in Newsweek (New York), 12 January 1998.

"Stanley Kauffman on Films: In the Midst of Life," in The New Republic (New York), 7 December 1998.

* * *

Thomas Newman was born into that outstanding cinemusical dynasty, the Newmans of Hollywood, on 20 October 1955. His father was Alfred Newman, the legendary composer, conductor, and musical director of 20th Century-Fox studios, and one of the key figures in the development and refinement of film music during the studio era. His uncles were Lionel and Emile Newman, also both prominent composers and conductors at Fox during the same period.

Newman attended college for two years at the University of Southern California, before graduating with a Masters in Music from Yale University. After graduation Newman garnered experience in both performing and in writing for musical theater. For several years he played the keyboard in a rock band, The Innocents, and with an improvisational group, Tokyo 77. During this same period, and under the championship of musical theater legend, Stephen Sondheim, Newman made a musical theater piece, Three Mean Fairy Tales, produced as a workshop production by the Stuart Ostrow Foundation.

Newman reports that his indoctrination into film music was occasioned by his relationship with his uncle, Lionel Newman: "Because my uncle Lionel was head of music at Fox during my high school and college years, I went down there a lot and watched John Williams conduct some of his early Irwin Allen movies like The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure. I think because of my uncle Lionel's relationship with John Williams, one of my first gigs in Hollywood was orchestrating one of the cues from Return of the Jedi (1983), when Darth Vader dies at the end. John's sketch was so complete that it was more of an exercise and a bone-toss, though it was a very nice bone-toss!" The first film Newman scored on his own was Reckless in 1984, but the young composer's breakthrough-movie was the Madonna vehicle Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985. His rhythmic, ethnic flavored score was prominently featured and drew much attention.

Like many contemporary film scores Newman's works are often a fusion of orchestral and electronic techniques, such as his early scores for The Lost Boys and Less Than Zero. Newman comments that he is fascinated by both orchestral and electronic techniques. "I hate the notion that electronics are a cheesy way of doing things and that orchestra is the 'only' true approach to scoring. But you can understand those critics, because electronics allow you to make easy choices, Anyone can do it. But while synthesizers are things you hide behind sounds, they can also be put in places you'd never expect. I've always wanted these boundaries to be amorphous."

Another attention getter for Newman was his score for The Rapture, a controversial film about a hedonistic young woman who converts to super-Fundamentalism and, at the film's bizarre climax, literally ascends into heaven during the "end times." For this unusual and extremely specialized feature Newman fused a chamber-sized ensemble of acoustic instruments with ambient electronic sounds and colors. He continued his fusion experiments with his next film, Men Don't Leave, and later commented: "I learned on those scores by trial and error."

Newman's first mainstream Hollywood film was Scent of a Woman in 1992. The composer's experimental sound crystallized with this and ensuing major scores, and it was soon to earn him numerous awards and nominations. His critically acclaimed scores for Little Women and The Shawshank Redemption were both nominated for Academy Award in the same year, and he was also nominated for Unstrung Heroes in 1995.

A 1995 Entertainment Weekly review of the Sony Classical CD release of Newman's score for Little Women commented: "Pastiche-Copland often sounds tired, but Thomas Newman's glowing score to the latest version of Little Women proves that it can also, occasionally, be inspired. If Newman's score works so miraculously well, it may be because he seems to have peppered the Coplandisms with canny seasonings from Charles Ives, the mad genius of Danbury, Connecticut." The following year the same publication commented on the CD from The People vs. Larry Flint : "This elegant and austere orchestral score by Thomas Newman becomes progressively more abstract and brooding, absorbing the country, gospel, and pop songs studding the album."

However, in a New Republic review of Meet Joe Black, Stanley Kauffmann complained that "Thomas Newman's music should not pass without a protest: it's the nosiest compilation of bangs and surges in several weeks." It might also be noted that the complaints of elder critic Kauffmann were not dissimilar to certain grumblings voiced against another young genius of modern film music, Elmer Bernstein, in the early 1950s.

Contemporary film music has changed radically from the days when Newman's father, Alfred, created his legendary symphonic scores for 20th Century-Fox, and today's Hollywood composers often find themselves providing supplementary instrumental scoring for a collection of chart-hopeful pop-music chart tracks. While Thomas Newman does not possess the readily recognizable style of his father and other classic Golden Age musicians, he is an amazingly versatile musician with the uncanny gift for creating a new and utterly appropriate sound for each new film he scores. In addition to his AA nominations Newman has received five BMI Music Awards, and several Grammy and Golden Globe nominations. Newman was again nominated for an Oscar for his score for American Beauty, the film which won for Best Picture in 2000.

—Ross Care

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