Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Interview: ‘A Christmas Story Live!’ songwriters
“We’re really excited by what it means for the field of musical theater,” reveals Benj Pasek about the possibility of completing his EGOT for “A Christmas Story Live!” Pasek and his songwriting partner Justin Paul “have been fans of this art form since we were little kids,” and he believes the awards recognition “is an indication that multiple mediums are embracing storytelling through music.”
The duo snagged their career-first Emmy nomination this year: Best Music and Lyrics for penning the original song “In the Market for a Miracle” for this live TV adaptation of their Broadway hit. Should they win, they’ll join an illustrious group of just a dozen people who have won the Hollywood awards grand slam (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). Watch our exclusive video interview with Pasek and Paul above.
Based on the 1983 holiday classic of the same name, “A Christmas Story” centers on Ralphie (Andy Walken), a young boy who wants nothing more than a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. This Fox broadcast incorporated elements from the 2012 stage show as well as a few new songs written exclusively for television.
In writing the new songs, Paul says, “We were thinking about characters who could use some fleshing out, and how to expand the story a little bit.” The two also wanted to create “exciting, dynamic moments for actors,” and they both agreed that Ana Gasteyer as Ralphie’s neighbor Mrs. Schwartz could benefit the most from a new number. Thus, Paul explains, a “big and fun and loud” Hanukkah song was born, and the rest is Emmy history.
Pasek and Paul won an Oscar for the original song “City of Stars” from “La La Land” (2016). They competed an additional time that year for “La La Land” (for the tune “Audition”) and again the following year for writing “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” (2017). Then their work on the Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen” brought them a Tony (Best Score) and Grammy (Best Musical Theater Album). If they win the Emmy in September they will be the youngest ever to achieve EGOT status (they’re both 33), and they will be by far the fastest with less than two years between their first award and their last.
But they aren’t the only possible EGOTs this Emmy season. John Legend, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Tim Rice could all complete their own awards grand slams for “Jesus Christ Superstar Live” since all three contend as producers on the show. Legend could also win Best Movie/Mini Actor.