Having surprisingly won only one of the four Golden Globes it was nominated for, the remake of Hollywood classic A Star is Born, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, is poised to arrive at the 91st Academy Awards Ceremony this coming February 24 with eight Oscar nominations. The film has audiences around the world enraptured, largely due to the film’s personal touches that Executive Producer Heather Parry pushed for in production.
The film, a directorial debut for Cooper, has been nominated by the Academy in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Actress (Lady Gaga), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Elliot), Best Cinematography (Matthew Libatique), Best Original Song (“Shallow” composed by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt), Best Sound Mixing (Steven Morrow) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters).
A Star is Born has star power written all over it, and its soundtrack has enough shine to illuminate an entire galaxy, with the indelible talent of Cooper and Gaga all over it. Not only did Cooper direct and act, he also collaborated with Gaga on composing and performing the songs for the film, with Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson, as a musical consultant.
This version of A Star is Born is the fourth remake of this classic story, which has been brought to the screen in 1937, 1954, and 1976, each time with new and original music. By all accounts, the Cooper-Gaga version is so far the most exquisitely produced telling of this popular tale, and has garnered the most nominations for the coveted Academy Awards.
The film uses music to weave a disturbing tale in which Ally, a talented young singer-songwriter falls in love with Jackson Maine, an aging alcoholic rock star, who becomes her lover and mentor. While Ally’s career takes off, Jack’s begins a downward spiral, and their love hangs in the balance.
With stellar performances by both Gaga as Ally and Cooper as Jackson, the film also boasts notable performances by Sam Elliott in the role of Jackson’s brother Bobby, a role that has earned Elliott a very good likelihood of taking home his first Oscar.
In the film, music and concerts play a big role, and several scenes were shot at actual music festivals. The authenticity of this approach, as well as the marketing wizardry of priming concert audiences to support the film at movie theaters, proved to be a brilliant strategy, both aesthetically and financially, for building a following in both the film and music industries. This is where the expertise and brilliance of Heather Parry, the film’s Executive Producer and president of film and television production at Live Nation come in.
Heather Parry Shares the Hard-Hitting, Personal Stories
A Star is Born with its eight Oscar Nominations is merely the latest opportunity to demonstrate that Live Nation is far more than a concert production company, and has indeed become a serious player in the arena of film and television production.
Having produced a host of successful music-based films in the past five years, with artists such as Lady Gaga, Sean Combs, Imagine Dragons, Eagles of Death Metal, and Wiz Khalifa, A Star is Born was a strategic move on the part of Live Nation to stretch out of their comfort zone in music-based documentary films into the arena of scripted fiction.
“At Live Nation, our motto is always Artists First,” states Parry. “So whether that is a talented filmmaker like Bradley Cooper, or Lady Gaga, we want to get behind and support.”
In a Buzzfeed interview with Alex Kantrowitz, Parry describes how she came to be involved in A Star is Born, as well as the unwavering confidence that she had from the beginning in the film’s success.
With regard to trusting Bradley Cooper to produce a true hit in his directorial debut, Parry states matter-of-factly, “I knew Bradley Cooper just from working in the movie business and I knew he was going to make a great director, because he’s so passionate about what he does,” Parry explains. “I was all in. I put my whole bet on that.”
While Cooper was not nominated in the category of Best Director, the film is nominated for Best Picture, and Cooper is a contender for Best Actor.
With regard to Gaga, Parry had prior experience with the artist after producing the successful documentary on Gaga entitled Five Foot Two, which was picked up by Netflix. She also had full confidence in Gaga’s acting ability, pointing out the fact that Gaga had serious prior acting experience and had worked on several successful productions. In fact, while Gaga is best known for her music, she won a 2016 Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a TV miniseries or motion picture for her role in American Horror Story: Hotel.
Now it looks like Gaga may land the Oscar for her role as Ally in A Star is Born, something that Parry may have foreseen when she found herself hooked on this project right from the beginning.
“I love Gaga as an artist,” says Parry. “Anything that she does, she’s so authentic, which is so important to the craft of acting, so I knew she was going to be great.”
Parry’s keen instinct for success, as well as her familiarity with the music industry, stems from her illustrious background running the West Coast News Office at MTV, where she began her career at the tender age of 22. Influenced by the workings of MTV’s film division, Parry moved on to head the film division at Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions in 2005, where she cut her teeth working in the film industry. In 2015 she began running the film and television division at Live Nation Productions, a giant concert producer that owns over 100 music festivals.
With Live Nation, Parry produced several music-industry documentaries, including one on Sean “Diddy” Combs titled Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story; Believer, one about Dan Reynolds, the front man for Imagine Dragons, calling out the Mormon church for discriminating against the LGBTQ community; one on the Eagles of Death Metal; and one other scripted fictional film titled The After Party, that starred Wiz Khalifa, French Montana, and Teyana Taylor.
And it turns out that Parry’s instinct paid off. A Star is Born has so far grossed some $409.5 million at the box office, and has won the praise of fans around the world, in addition to those eight impressive Oscar nominations.