Diane Warren the go-to songwriter for film, TV

Wed Nov 12, 2008 4:52am EST
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By Ann Donahue

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Diane Warren's office is located near Amoeba Records, the be-all and end-all record store in Hollywood. If one were to go through the stacks with an eye toward creating a Warren compilation, you'd have to visit most of the store: She's written for pop stars, Broadway belters, country crooners, R&B divas and rock legends.

And, notably, you'd have to spend lots of time in the soundtracks section. Since 1984, when Laura Branigan's "Hot Night" was featured in "Ghostbusters," Warren has written almost 100 songs that have appeared in films or TV productions. She's been nominated six times for an Oscar, and she won a Grammy in 1997 for the Celine Dion-sung "Because You Loved Me" from the film "Up Close & Personal."

Warren has had 31 songs peak in the top 10 of the Billboard 100, and she remains the industry's go-to songwriter for ballads and love songs across all genres.

"She's the fastest writer," says producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who has used Warren's songs routinely in his movies, perhaps most notably Aerosmith's version of "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" for "Armageddon." "I'll give her an idea or a concept and 24 hours later she'll come back with a song and a demo that she's done."

Her office houses not only Warren's songwriting "cave," but also a dozen employees and her Realsongs publishing company. Every day for 23 years, she's been coming to this building, where she begins writing at 8:30 a.m. -- she feels she's most creative in the morning -- and then spends the afternoon taking meetings with artists and executives.

Veteran label boss Clive Davis, who has used Warren's compositions for Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston and Kelly Clarkson, says he frequently works one-on-one with Warren.

"I see her sing her own songs at the Beverly Hills Hotel in my bungalow," he says. "She sits down at the piano and she emotes it. She feels it -- you see the veins in her neck really expressing all the depth of emotions."

For Warren, it was apparent from childhood what her career choice would be. Raised in the San Fernando Valley ("I'm from Van Nuys, which is so close to Hollywood -- but it's a million miles away," she jokes), she found that she was more fascinated by the songwriter credits on the albums her siblings brought home than the recordings themselves.   Continued...

<p>Music producer and judge on 'American Idol' Randy Jackson (L) presents Academy Award winning songwriter Diane Warren with the Crystal award at the Women in Film 2006 Crystal and Lucy Awards in Los Angeles June 6, 2006. Warren was honored for devoting her talents in the entertainment industry. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>