Fil-Ams hoping for 1st Oscar win

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NEW YORK -- He’s got Tonys and a Grammy. Now songwriter Robert Lopez is a little stunned that he might soon take home an Oscar.


“My only dream coming out of college was to get a show up in New York and having it reviewed,” said the Filipino-American songwriter. “Quite honestly, I just wanted to be doing something in the theater that wasn’t just for free.”

Lopez, who helped create “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon,” is up for an Academy Award next month along with his cowriting partner and wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, for best song honors.


Let it Go

The songwriting duo’s “Let it Go” from the “Frozen” soundtrack is one of four eligible to win, including Pharrell William’s “Happy” from the “Despicable Me 2” soundtrack, U2’s “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” and “The Moon Song” by Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for Spike Jonze’s “Her.”

At the Oscars, Broadway star Idina Menzel will sing “Let it Go,” as she did in the film.

Lopez and his wife recently got to meet some of their competition and were a tad intimidated. “It’s a strong year and these are artists that we look up to and think of as rock stars. We don’t think of us in the same league,” he said.

Others might disagree, pointing to the huge success of “Frozen,” about a magically icy princess and her sister. It has earned more than $864 million globally and prompted many YouTube tributes. Disney is even in talks about adapting “Frozen” into a Broadway musical.

Before the Academy Awards ceremony, Lopez will be in the spotlight for another reason: He is one of the speakers at the third TEDxBroadway conference, which brings together producers, marketers, entrepreneurs, academics and artists to try to answer the question, “What is the best Broadway can be?” This year the annual gathering is set for Feb. 24 at New World Stages.


Focus on the audience

Lopez plans to talk about a critical moment in his life before he worked on “Avenue Q” when he shifted his focus from trying to please potential employers to writing music to please audiences. The hits and awards soon followed.

He and his wife are eager to restart work on a musical they had to shelve while they worked on “Frozen,” which was informed by their raising of two daughters. The new one is an original show called “Up Here” and it will be directed by Alex Timbers at a regional theater to be named later. “It’s a very high-concept musical along the lines of ‘Avenue Q’ but on a larger scale.”

World - is getting more recognition.

“I love seeing her finally get credit for the great artist that I think she is,” he said. “She’s been whispering in my ear my whole career and helping me along the way.”

The Filipino-American community is rooting hard for Lopez, who has already received many awards of recognition from Fil-Am groups.

It has been noted that if Disney’s Frozen wins the Academy Award in March, Lopez would join the elite “EGOT winners’ circle.”

As published reports have it, EGOT is an acronym for the four most prestigious awards in the entertainment industry: the Emmys, the Grammys, the Oscars, and the Tony awards. Currently, only 11 people have achieved this milestone, among them: Audrey Hepburn, Helen Hayes, John Gielgud, Jonathan Turnick, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols, Richard Rodgers, Rita Moreno, Scott Rudin, and Whoopi Goldberg.


Proud Fil-Am

Lopez traces his Filipino descent to his father, who he has said was born on a US Navy ship ferrying GIs out of Manila after World War II.

His mother is Scottish American.

Earlier, Lopez had told columnist Janet Nepales that his father (Frank), who was part-Filipino, was born on a ship on the way to the United States from Manila,” he said. “It was reportedly the last GI boat that left Manila right after World War II.”

While his parents were not particularly inclined towards music, he noticed that Filipinos are culturally musical. “I have so many Filipino friends who are amazing singers, writers and composers in New York City,” Lopez was quoted as saying.

“I’ve had a lot of connection with Fil-Am organizations in New York,” he disclosed. “I’m connected with the artistic community. What I’ve noticed is that it’s a musical culture. I feel like there has to be something in there that came to me,” he said.

The Lopez’s two daughters, ages eight and four, were also part of Frozen as voice talents.


The Academy Awards will be held in March.  Inquirer.net

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