Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez talk tunes for toon ‘Winnie the Pooh’ [Video]

Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez admit to being awestruck when they got the gig to pen songs for Disney’s reboot of “Winnie the Pooh“, one of the most beloved children’s stories of all time.

As Robert reveals to Gold Derby, he was writing “The Book of Mormon” with Trey Parker and Matt Stone when the call came through. “I was so excited that I hung up the phone and was like ‘Matt and Trey! I get to do Winnie the Pooh, I get to do Winnie the Pooh!'” 

Robert’s collaborator (and wife) Kristen Anderson-Lopez recalls that she “was at home with a three-week old” and admitted she “doesn’t remember anything from that time.” Kristen says she was excited about the prospect of helping bring the classic A. A. Milne to a new generation. “I stayed up all night just thinking and obsessing. Every two hours I would wake up Bobby and say what do you think about this idea?” The pair were given lots of artistic licence as the studio gave them “a situation and a couple of pictures” and a brief explanation of “here’s what comes before it, here’s some images we were thinking of.”

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From their seven tunes, Disney is backing “The Backson Song” for awards consideration. Justin Chang (Variety) cited it as “the most memorable of the original tunes.” It is an imaginatively rendered number as the characters dream up a made-up monster that is the cause of all of their worries. As Robert explains, “The Backson is something the characters sort of invent. They get this note from Christopher Robin that says ‘Busy, back soon.'” Owl thinks that Christopher Robin has been kidnapped by a creature called the Backson and “this turns into a flight of imagination about a scary creature that puts holes in your socks and hides things that get lost.”

Robert won Tonys for the score of “Avenue Q” (along with Jeff Marx) and the book of “The Book of Mormon,” which he co-created with Parker and Stone. He won a Daytime Emmy for Nickelodeon’s “Wonder Pets” and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy in 2007 for his work on the celebrated “My Musical” episode of NBC’s “Scrubs.”

Songs from animated films have done very well at the Oscars in recent years, with at least one such tune nominated in nine of the last 10 years. Two won —  “If I Didn’t Have You” from “Monsters, Inc” in 2001 and “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3” last year. For Robert, “It’s really an incredible idea that we would even be submitted for a nomination for Oscars … you know, the Oscars is something we watch.” “In our pyjamas,” Kristen adds with a smile.


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