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 for AP Television 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, 58, said he expects that 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.
Other Oscars Menken has won include those for co-writing “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid,” “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin” and “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas.”
Those 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.”
Menken said he points out the statues when he has a studio disagreement with a collaborator.
“I say, ’Turn around and look over there,”’ he noted with a laugh. “It’s obnoxious, but sometimes effective.”