Newman Battling 'Dreamgirls' For Oscar Glory

Randy Newman has heard the conventional wisdom about the best original song competition in this year's Academy Awards; with three of the category's five nominations, "Dreamgirls" will split the vote,

Randy Newman has heard the conventional wisdom about the best original song competition in this year's Academy Awards; with three of the category's five nominations, "Dreamgirls" will split the vote, leaving Newman's "Our Town" (from Disney/Pixar's "Cars") to vie against Melissa Etheridge's "I Need To Wake Up" from the Al Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

"I've heard that theory, but I don't necessarily subscribe to it," Newman tells Billboard.com. "I think they'll give 'Dreamgirls' something."

That said, Newman will be at the Feb. 25 ceremony, performing "Our Town" with James Taylor -- who sang it for film -- and sitting in the audience when the winner's name is called. "You go and you kinda get sucked into hoping you win, even though you wonder about the meaning of it all -- but not for long," he says. "I'll be hoping I win. And if I do, I'll be surprised."

It's Newman's 17th Oscar nod, having been nominated in the song and best original score categories for his work on "Ragtime," "The Natural," "Toy Story," "James and the Giant Peach," "A Bug's Life" and "Meet the Parents," among others. Newman won once, for the song "If I Didn't Have You" from "Monsters, Inc."

Newman has more film work on the horizon, including the Disney animated feature "The Frog Princess" and the romantic comedy "Leatherheads," which is being directed by and stars George Clooney. He's also working on the next album of his own, which he predicts he'll finish this year, "but I think they won't release it 'til the beginning of next (year), staying out of the way of the Christmas rush thing."

Newman says he's "got seven, eight songs for it," while further progress has been held up by his other film commitments as well as some touring. "I only work on one thing at a time, usually," he says. "Other guys I know can do two pictures at once or do a picture and an album at once, but when I'm doing arrangements and writing for orchestras, I can't do anything else, 'cause it's hard for me."

Among the songs slated for Newman's album are "Losing You" and "Easy Street." But he's not sure yet if it will include the politically minded "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" because, he notes, "this is a song that won't be relevant in two years, when the [Bush] administration's gone."