Three Academy Awards shows ago, there was a left-field music performer, Elliott Smith, doing his nominated song from "Good Will Hunting." This year, it was Aimee Mann with her music from "Magnolia."
Next year, could it be a duet of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Mrs. Tom Cruise?
Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman could indeed end up with a nominated musical performance. They'll be heard singing all the way through "Moulin Rouge," a film being shot by Baz Luhrmann. The Australian director has already shown a knack for weaving music into intriguing stories with the rock-driven "Romeo & Juliet" and the dance romance "Strictly Ballroom." But this one goes a few strides further.
Set on the last day of 1899, "Moulin Rouge" (scheduled for a Christmas release by Fox) is a full-on musical fantasy in which McGregor becomes a conduit for the music that will happen in the coming 100 years--from Rodgers & Hammerstein to T. Rex. And much of it is sung by him and co-star Kidman.
There also will be at least one new song--and hence the Oscar eligibility--written by David Baerwald and sung by the pair. It's all being overseen by music supervisor Anton Monstead, a longtime Luhrmann associate, and music producer Marius deVries, who produced some of the "Romeo" music and whose credits include Madonna, Bjork, Massive Attack and Annie Lennox.
"Ewan McGregor sounds like a cross between Freddie Mercury and Elton John, and Nicole has the sexiest Marilyn Monroe singing voice, but with more power," says Karyn Rachtman, executive producer of the soundtrack album, which will be released by Interscope Records.
"Moulin Rouge" also will include several guest vocals and appearances. Among the more intriguing possibilities is an expected cameo by Ozzy Osbourne as an absinthe-induced hallucination singing "The Sound of Music."
"Moulin Rouge" follows Luhrmann's fluke pop chart success with "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)." The 1999 novelty hit featured the spoken delivery of a spoof commencement address and was included on the "Something for Everyone" album collecting music from Luhrmann's films.
The first project supervised by Robbie Robertson in his role as a creative executive at DreamWorks Records is set for release in August, but if you're expecting anything sounding remotely like the Band or even Robertson's solo work, forget it.
"Honeyvision," the debut album by Australian-born, London-based singer-songwriter Nicky Love, invites comparisons more to Madonna and Garbage, both for its sonic qualities and edgy, personal lyrics.
"It doesn't necessarily have to be from the same 'hood I'm from," Robertson says. "It doesn't necessarily have to be a kind of music I'm out there searching for myself. It has to be something I think fits beautifully into the universe of music right now and is vital and has energy. . . . I'm also trying to think in terms of what's good for DreamWorks. We've got lots of this and that, and this here is what we need."
Robertson found Love via mutual friends on the London music scene during a late 1998 visit and soon hooked her up with producer Marius deVries, who in addition to working with Madonna had been involved in Robertson's last album.
"I just thought she was a great character," Robertson says. "She had a vivid imagination, and what she chose to write about was intriguing. I just liked her and what she had to say. It had been a while for me, listening to an artist where I said, 'Now there's something interesting to say.' "
Two years after leaving his high-profile position at KCRW-FM (89.9) as music director and "Morning Becomes Eclectic" host, Chris Douridas is back on the radio--and preparing to leave his job of nearly four years as an A&R; executive at DreamWorks Records.
This time, though, the radio is on the Internet. Douridas has signed on as vice president of music and artist relations at Spinner, the Internet audio service owned by America Online (http://www.spinner.com). Douridas officially exits DreamWorks when his contract expires in September, but he has already established a presence at Spinner, programming and hosting "eclecticXL," one of its dozens of programming channels, as well as having conducted an interview with Matchbox Twenty that is running now on that band's exclusive channel on the service. He expects to launch a weekly new music show in July.
"Essentially, this is about rising to the challenge of radio online," he says. "Spinner is already a comprehensive streaming service that was recently acquired by AOL. Now it's about bringing personality and a point of view to the live programming element."
Douridas will remain at DreamWorks to squire several projects in progress, including a second album by Propellerheads (which he signed to the label) and the debut of Artificial Intelligence, a band he signed that includes keyboardist Pablo Manzarek (son of the Doors' Ray) and is being produced by fellow DreamWorks executive Mike Simpson.