music reporter

Animation, Broadway calling to busy Ballard

Grammy-winning songwriter-producer Glen Ballard says he has seen the future, and it is motion-capture animation a la director Robert Zemeckis' "The Polar Express" (2004) and the upcoming "Beowulf." Ballard is working closely with Zemeckis and composer Alan Silvestri on songs for the latter film, including the end title.

"(Zemeckis) is always stretching the boundaries of the visual medium," Ballard says. " 'Beowulf' takes motion capture to the next level. It's really an action movie." The film stars Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich and Robin Wright Penn, but only Wright Penn tries her hand at a song. (Sorry, Jolie is not going to add singer to her résumé just yet.)

One project is not enough for Ballard. He is putting the final touches on Annie Lennox's highly anticipated new album, which will be released in the fourth quarter. "It's a very intense record," he says. "It's very personal to her. We spent a lot of time making sure the music was the way she wanted it."

Also set for the fall is a solo album from Tony-winning actress Idina Menzel of "Wicked" fame. Ballard co-wrote tracks and produced the disc, which he says "goes way beyond Broadway."

Ballard is particularly fascinated with the stage at the moment and might just be working on a secret big project. "Recorded music has become a loss leader. It's terrifying," he says. "You can get music for free, and in a year, movies will be, too. Performers and the live experience may be the future of the business. I'm certainly looking at Broadway as a place to go."

In other film music news, brothers Jeff and Mychael Danna are co-scoring the New Line thriller "Fracture," starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. Hopkins loves going into the studio to visit the composers; he once considered his passion for music stronger than his passion for acting. An accomplished pianist, he scored the recent film "Slipstream," an indie comedy Hopkins also wrote and directed. … John Legend is trying his hand at film song collaboration. He recently was in the studio with composer Aaron Zigman recording "Dare to Dream" as part of Zigman's score for "Pride," a drama about a swim team made up of troubled teens in Philadelphia, which Lionsgate opens March 23. … John Frizzell has completed rescoring "The Reaping" for Warner Bros. Pictures. … Christopher Young is scoring "Spider-Man 3."

I also hear that a hot music supervisor is going to get his or her own label. And an acclaimed singer-songwriter will get to write for an entire film. Stay tuned.