One of my most enjoyable tasks is the preparation of Variety‘s annual chart looking at all of the nominees in Emmy’s five music categories: original music for series; original music for movies, miniseries or specials; main title themes; music direction (usually for one-shot specials); and original songs for TV. Because it’s a chart, it rarely makes the transition from print to web, so we’ve scanned it and made it available here. The challenge is usually twofold: checking each nominee’s Emmy record (not easy because the Television Academy’s own database is incomplete and sometimes inaccurate) and condensing its musical essence down to a few words.
Over the years, I’ve written a number of stories about women composers and why they aren’t hired more often for studio films. Despite the grim statistics, things are changing, partly because of the creation of the Alliance for Women Film Composers, but also due to the Academy’s diversity push (which led to a boost in female members of the music branch this year) and the election of Laura Karpman as the first woman governor representing music on the Academy board. I examine all of these developments in the lead story for this week’s Music for Screens issue of Variety. Related story: Friday’s landmark concert in downtown Los Angeles featuring 20 women film and TV composers. Also in the current Variety: a story about the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop for young composers.
Every year it’s my privilege to interview many of the composers nominated for Emmys in the key music categories. The occasion is usually the creation of Variety‘s full-page chart devoted to brief descriptions of the music in all five categories. But this year I’m doing more, beginning with a story utilizing what I heard from all six nominees in the category of Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) — music from Bates Motel, Chef’s Table, Limitless, Minority Report, Mr. Robot and Penny Dreadful. It’s always fun to hear what these hugely talented composers have to say about their diverse assignments.
I was lucky enough to attend composer John Williams’ 1992 re-recordings of his Olympics music, including his classic 1984 “Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” which prompted me to write this July 1992 piece for TV Update. (At the time, I was writing a nationally syndicated column about television.) I happened to stumble across the original piece this morning and thought you might like to see it. It predates, of course, his third and fourth Olympic themes (“Summon the Heroes” and “Call of the Champions”), which I’ve written about elsewhere. But it’s nice to be reminded of the composer’s original thoughts about creating these pieces, which are now an indelible part of the Olympics experience.
The obsession that some Game of Thrones fans have with Ramin Djawadi’s music took even the composer by surprise. (The numbers associated with the various YouTube versions of the theme — from serious ones on violin or cello to wacky ones for cat, floppy disc, wine glasses and more — are simply astounding.) Now, however, fans of the HBO series who must wait another year for new episodes can get their fix with a live concert version that will tour North America in early 2017. I attended the press conference at which Live Nation announced the plans, and composer Djawadi talked about the phenomenon.