Oscars Music Director Rickey Minor Reveals 10 Secrets of the Telecast

Variety | 4/11/2019 | Jon Burlingame
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Rickey Minor is an old hand at conducting music for live TV shows, having handled such chores on “American Idol,” the Grammys and the Emmys. This year, he scored his biggest gig yet: as music director of the Academy Awards.

“It’s the biggest and most prestigious show for a reason,” he says. “It is the most challenging in terms of time. Some 160 cues, not only the nominated material but all of the production numbers, ‘In Memoriam’ and all of the music has to get done in just a few days.

Music - Vibrations - Planet - People - Hopeful

“It was magical, surreal, and I felt like we did what we came to do, which was to use music to raise the vibrations on the planet,” he adds. “People left feeling hopeful, happy, tapping their feet.”

During the course of a post-Oscars interview, Minor revealed 10 things most viewers probably don’t know about music on show-biz’s biggest night:

Play-ons - Play-offs - Presenters - Live - Orchestra

The play-ons and play-offs for presenters are not played live by the orchestra.

“In the past they had five cues for the nominees. When the winner is announced, the conductor would go ‘Number five!’ and give the downbeat. Now, we go into Capitol studios, pre-record and mix those, and that’s left to a playback person. ‘Black Panther’ is announced, they push that button.”

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If something malfunctions, they’re prepared to play everything live.

Stuff - Book - Music - Anyone - Play-on

“I always have extra stuff in the book. We have music prepared to play anyone on, although it’s more of a generic play-on. And we play the big numbers when we go to commercial. The trick is to make sure that there is no sonic difference between the live stuff and the pre-records.”

The music director does not decide when a winner’s speech has gone on too long.

Director - People

“It’s always the director. Sometimes people want to make an...
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