Tim Greiving

Two years ago, Amanda Jones was at a luncheon for the NAACP Image Awards. She was working for a television studio at the time, and wanted to change directions. When she spotted writer/producer Lena Waithe, she walked up to her and told her she wanted to be a full-time film and TV composer.

"I was like, 'Hey, I'm getting ready to take the leap,' " Jones says. "And she was like, 'Oh, cool. Here's my email — let's keep in touch.' "

Alan Menken composed the song "Prince Ali," memorably sung by Robin Williams in Disney's 1992 animated feature Aladdin, while sitting at the lyricist's hospital bed. His friend, Howard Ashman, was dying.

"His life was pitifully cut short, unfortunately, as were many at that time," says Menken. "But Howard's [death], for me, is the most personally difficult and his spirit remains very, very present still; there's something about Howard that is not just a statistic in the battle against AIDS. But as an artist, he's extremely vital — even now."

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Bugs Bunny is back, wike (ph) BJ Weiderman (ph), who does our theme music. The wascaly (ph) wabbit (ph) and his pals star in a new "Looney Tunes" series on HBO Max.

(SOUNDBITE OF CARL JOHNSON'S "MERRY-GO-ROUND BROKE DOWN")

Rachel Portman has been scoring films since the 1980s, and in 1997 became the first woman ever to win an Oscar for best original score for her work on Douglas McGrath's Emma. Since then, Portman has scored dozens more films and TV shows, but is now stepping away from the screen with ask the river, her first album of music not written for a movie, TV show or stage production.

"There were hardly any female film composers," Portman says of winning an Oscar at that time.