Penelope Cruz in Nine
Maury Yeston bounces into the Four Seasons Hotel lobby in Beverly Hills. He's just come from the Oscar nominees lunch and is positively glowing. The winner of multiple Tony® awards says with a laugh, "The Tony events aren't as fancy as the Oscars! We'll have to work on that!"

Yeston is nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar for "Take It All" from the film Nine. He originally penned Nine as a Broadway musical, which debuted in 1982 and earned him the Tony for best musical and score. Based on Federico Fellini's film 8 1/2, Nine is up for four Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actress nod for Penelope Cruz.

"Adaptations," he explains, "is making something new in a different way. Fellini gave me permission for 8 1/2. The question is, 'What are you adding?' I'm certainly not Fellini, but fiction can be inspired."

Unlike many writers who can be precious and defiant about screen adaptations, Yeston took a very different approach to the film version of Nine.

"I told [director] Rob Marshall to make believe I was dead," Yeston says with a laugh. "Most musicals are written by dead people anyway! I didn't want to be in the way of Rob's vision."