Menken may win fifth Oscar

Menken and his late co-writer Howard Ashman got three Oscar nods for Beauty and the Beast, and won for the title tune.

music note 88 (photo credit:)
music note 88
(photo credit: )
If it truly is a pleasure just to be nominated for an Oscar, Alan Menken must be Hollywood's happiest man. The co-composer of songs from Walt Disney's musical hit Enchanted has three of the five nominations in the original-song category going into Sunday's Academy Awards. While that's not a record - three of Henry Krieger's songs from Dreamgirls were nominated just last year - news of the triple play still took Menken by surprise. "My publicist, Ray Costa, called me and said, 'Alan, you're nominated for "Happy Working Song" ... and "So Close" ... and "That's How You Know,"' Menken recalled at the Oscar nominees luncheon in early February. "I was really blind-sided, completely blind-sided. Three nominations. I said, 'Now we're gonna lose.'" Menken said he expects the three Enchanted entries, co-written with Stephen Schwartz, may split the vote, improving odds for the other song contenders at the ceremony: "Falling Slowly" from Once and "Raise It Up" from August Rush. Last year, the three Dreamgirls songs lost out to Melissa Etheridge's "I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth. Then again, Menken and his late co-writer Howard Ashman got three 1991 nods for Beauty and the Beast, and won for the title tune. Menken, 58, also has Oscars for co-writing "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid, "A Whole New World" from Aladdin and "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas. Those four Oscars "live in my studio, and they're all in a cabinet," Menken said. "And I occasionally let them out and let people hold them." "I say, 'Turn around and look over there,'" he noted with a laugh. "It's obnoxious, but sometimes effective."