‘Hocus Pocus’ Music Producer on Why ‘I Put a Spell on You’ Still Enchants, Almost 30 Halloweens Later

On the latest Billboard Pop Shop Podcast, we find out the story behind Hocus Pocus’ “I Put a Spell on You,” as performed by Bette Midler and produced/arranged by Marc Shaiman.

‘Hocus Pocus’ Music Producer on Why ‘I Put a Spell on You’ Still Enchants, Almost 30 Halloweens Later

On the latest Billboard Pop Shop Podcast, we’ve got a Halloween treat for you! We find out the story behind one of modern film’s most iconic music sequences: Hocus Pocus’ “I Put a Spell on You,” as performed by Bette Midler.

Marc Shaiman, who produced and arranged the song for the movie, joins the Pop Shop to discuss how the song came together — and why the performance and film continues to enchant viewers so many years later.

“I Put a Spell on You” was first released in 1956 by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, who also wrote the track. It has since been covered by many artists, including Nina Simone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Annie Lennox and, of course, by Midler and her onscreen Sanderson Sisters in Hocus Pocus, played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy in the 1993 film.

“The original recording… is a classic,” Shaiman tells the Pop Shop (listen below), “but it really only has like three lines of lyrics in it. So we just sat at the piano and we were like, ‘Well, there has to be lyrics that fit the story.’”

“My memory is that we just [came up with additional lyrics] right there on the spot,” Shaiman says. “Basically me and Bette. I’m sure everyone else threw in ideas … and it works. And it’s so good in the movie. And it was fun to arrange in the style of Bette Midler so that Kathy and SJP sing parts like The Harlettes would sing, Bette Midler’s backup group.”

Why has the movie, which has become a seasonal favorite, and its “I Put a Spell On You” performance endured all these years?

“Well, Bette Midler, Bette Midler, Bette Midler,” Shaiman explains simply, “And then, Bette Midler, as far as the number. And then you know, the ladies are just having so much fun. I mean, Bette still to this day says it was the most fun she ever had on a movie. I mean, I do remember it was kinda disappointing that when it came out, it didn’t do so well. I think it did OK, but, it was not unlike The Wizard of Oz — I’m not saying Hocus Pocus is like The Wizard of Oz — but it was through the television showings that it became what it is now.”

Shaiman also laments the lack of commercial or streaming availability of Midler’s “I Put a Spell on You.”

“What’s heartbreaking is the fact that it doesn’t exist on a record anywhere… I guess it must be about Bette’s record [label] affiliation. She was with Atlantic [Records] then and I bet they couldn’t make a deal to borrow her [for a soundtrack release]. It’s crazy. … It’s gotta sit somewhere in the vaults at Disney.” (Walt Disney Records could not be reached for comment. Midler’s rendition of “Spell” has never been released commercially or via streaming services, while the movie’s score has only seen a limited release on CD many years ago.)

Shaiman says “hopefully maybe” they’ll release the song — “well, now that they’re making a sequel…”

Speaking of that sequel, , coming to Disney+ in 2022: Is Shaiman involved? “I don’t think I’m allowed to say anything,” he says, “but maybe the fact that I’m telling you that I’m not allowed to say anything says something.”

Also in his chat with the Pop Shop, Shaiman — a Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner — discusses his long working relationship with Midler that dates back to the late 1970s. ( “Every dream of mine came true… I’ve been working with her, and great friends with her, ever since.”) Outside of his work with Midler, Shaiman has been an in-demand composer, lyricist, producer and music supervisor for film, television and musical theater. He received his sixth and seventh Academy Award nominations for the 2018 film Mary Poppins Returns (for best original score and best original song: “The Place Where Lost Things Go”).

The is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard’s weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard’s executive digital director, West Coast, Katie Atkinson and senior director of Billboard charts Keith Caulfield every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on Billboard.com.)

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Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. Revives Plans to Acquire Austin’s Block 21 Complex

A previous deal for Ryman Hospitality Properties to acquire Block 21 was terminated in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. Revives Plans to Acquire Austin’s Block 21 Complex

Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. has reached an agreement to acquire the Block 21 complex in Austin, Texas, from Stratus Properties, Inc. for $260 million.

The two companies had previously reached an agreement for Stratus to sell Block 21 to Nashville, Tenn.-based Ryman Hospitality Properties for $275 million in December 2019, though the agreement was terminated in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Stratus, Ryman Hospitality Properties forfeited $15 million in earnest money to Stratus due to the termination of the deal.

Now, Ryman has renewed its intentions to acquire Block 21, home to the 2,750-seat entertainment venue ACL Live at the Moody Theater (ACL Live), which serves as the filming location for the Austin City Limits television series. The Block 21 complex, which was completed in 2010 and is located on an entire city block in Austin’s 2nd Street District, is also home to the W Austin Hotel, the 3TEN at ACL Live club and nearly 53,000 square feet of Class A commercial space.

The deal is set to close near the end of the fourth quarter of this year. Opry Entertainment, one division of Ryman Hospitality Properties, includes the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, WSM 650 AM, Ole Red, and Circle, a country lifestyle media network owned via a joint venture with Gray Television.

The $260 million price tag includes the assumption of nearly $138 million of existing mortgage debt. Ryman Hospitality Properties will also receive approximately $11 million of existing cash reserves.

Colin Reed, chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties, said, “We are pleased to again have the opportunity to add this one-of-a-kind asset to our growing entertainment portfolio. Much like Nashville, Austin’s leisure and hospitality industry is recovering and is well-positioned for growth in the years ahead. This acquisition allows us to have a meaningful presence in two of the most dynamic music cities in this country and presents many opportunities to showcase the unique music cultures in each city to millions of fans through our Circle TV network.”

Reed added, “We are thrilled for the long-term opportunities to grow our customer base and create quality entertainment experiences for local music lovers and the millions of tourists who visit Austin each year. We love what Beau and the entire Stratus team created with Block 21 and share their vision for the enormous potential it has to become a world-renowned, music-centric hub in the heart of this great city.”

William H. Armstrong III, chairman of the board and CEO of Stratus, said, “I am proud of the Stratus team for continuing to
position this iconic property for success from early development plans through permitting, construction, leasing and management. I am also grateful for the community’s, our partners’, and our patrons’ continuous support, particularly during
the pandemic. We were pleased to reach an agreement with Ryman in 2019 and again this year. We remain confident that their experience with entertainment and hospitality properties makes Ryman the right partner for Austin and Block 21.”

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