The surprise of the year in terms of soundtrack releases is an original score album of music from The Rifleman — the beloved 1958-63 Western drama starring Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford. Composer Herschel Burke Gilbert had always intended to release an album, as far back as 1960, but never quite got around to it. His son John Gilbert, who inherited and now runs the composer’s classical label Laurel Records, has just released a 2-CD set of music composed for, and used in, the classic TV series. This story explains how it all came about and why it took nearly six decades to see the light of day.
For the main story in this week’s Music for Screens section in Variety, I profiled Blake Neely, who composes, supervises and/or produces approximately four hours of music every week for such DC Comics shows as Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl; the Archie Comics revamp Riverdale; and the thriller Blindspot. He’s also got a documentary coming up and will shortly score the second feature by his frequent collaborator, producer-director Greg Berlanti. (I even got him to talk about his theme for CNN’s The Sixties / Seventies / Eighties.) It was great fun visiting him at his ultra-modern North Hollywood studio and seeing how he works with his team.
Coming under the category of “boy, do we need it now” is the new children’s series demystifying the arts, Julie’s Greenroom on Netflix. It’s the creation of Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton and each half-hour episode explores a different facet of the theater, from writing and acting to costumes and music. There are songs and score in each show, so for this story in Variety I interviewed music director Bill Sherman, composer Ryan Shore and songwriter Shaina Taub. At a time when arts funding is threatened on both national and local levels, this show is really special and deserves our support (and anyway, there are Muppets in it!).
The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is a relatively new theater in the heart of Beverly Hills. The family of the late, Oscar-winning composer Henry Mancini assembled an incredible lineup of talent as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization on Saturday, April 1, and we were thrilled to be invited to cover it for Variety. The event, which featured Julie Andrews, John Williams, Quincy Jones, Kristin Chenoweth and many other stars, was a memorable concert of Mancini’s greatest hits, from Peter Gunn to The Pink Panther, “Moon River” to “Days of Wine and Roses” and more. Here is my story for Variety‘s online news page.