Oscar-nominated, Grammy- and Emmy-winning composer Alan Silvestri received BMI’s Icon Award Wednesday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. His was the top honor among dozens distributed by the performing-rights society. The evening was a who’s-who of composers, songwriters and music supervisors active in films and TV. Variety asked me to cover the event, so I managed to sneak in a little time with the composer of Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, TV’s Cosmos and so much more. Among others in attendance: Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy), Brian Tyler (Fate of the Furious), the legendary Mike Post (Law & Order), W.G. Snuffy Walden (The West Wing) and many others.
Composer James Newton Howard (The Sixth Sense, The Hunger Games, pictured here) was honored with the BMI Icon award at Wednesday night’s annual film/TV honors of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), while David Newman received its Classic Contribution Award for his work conducting classic film music in concert halls around the world. I was on the red carpet again this year, conducting no fewer than 25 on-camera interviews with composers for film and TV. BMI is posting them on YouTube; here is Howard, here is Newman. And here is my story about the evening.
It was a thrill to be asked to talk with Oscar-nominated, Grammy-winning composer James Newton Howard on the occasion of his being named a BMI Icon. He’ll receive his award on May 11, but BMI has already posted our video interview: Fourteen fascinating minutes with one of today’s greatest movie composers. (His credits, in case you don’t know, include The Hunger Games films, The Sixth Sense, The Fugitive, The Prince of Tides, King Kong, My Best Friend’s Wedding and many others.) Both parts of the interview are here.
Alexandre Desplat and Chris Montan (the Oscar-winning composer of The Grand Budapest Hotel and president of music for the Walt Disney Company, respectively) took top honors at this year’s BMI Film and TV Music Awards dinner. Here is my overview of the evening’s speeches and additional awards. Part of the fun, though, was doing the on-camera interviews on the red carpet — some of which are now showing up online. This link will take you to my brief chats with Desplat, Montan, Brian Tyler (talking about doing Marvel movies), Fil Eisler (Revenge) and Gwendolyn Sanford (Orange Is the New Black).
On May 13, I interviewed Oscar-winning composer Alexandre Desplat for BMI, just hours before the performing-rights society presented him with its Icon Award for career achievement. I have interviewed Desplat many times over the years, but he was especially forthcoming and (as always) charming in this setting. Here he talks about how he got into the business, how he approaches each new film, working with Wes Anderson (for whose film The Grand Budapest Hotel he won the Oscar) and advice for young composers. While you’re at that page, click on the other videos; I did all of BMI’s red-carpet interviews and there is some really fun stuff there.
I’m not generally given to hyperbole — too many years as a reporter, one sees almost everything — but I must admit that last night’s BMI ceremony in Beverly Hills was one of the greatest nights of my life. I was incredibly honored that the performing-rights organization chose to honor me as “a luminary in the field of film music journalism.”
Dear friend Doreen Ringer Ross, senior VP of BMI, presented me with this framed citation: “In grateful appreciation for your years of friendship, wit and wisdom, and for being a sincere and respected champion to so many in the film and television music community. Your distinctive and unique voice has forever enriched our lives.”
This was after a three-minute video — a complete surprise to me — that featured composers Christopher Lennertz, Mike Post, Charles Fox, Richard Sherman, Lalo Schifrin, David Newman and John Williams, thanking and congratulating me. It was truly moving. I will never forget the standing ovation that followed. (Or Williams saying, “May your pen continue to flourish and may your inkwell never dry up.”) And I can never thank Doreen and her fellow executives at BMI enough for this huge honor.
I got to stand with the rest of the BMI honorees including the wonderful Mychael Danna, who received the evening’s highest honor, the Richard Kirk Award. A couple of hours earlier I did a long video interview with Danna; here he talks about his journey from small independent films to big studio features; here he talks about Ang Lee and his Oscar-winning work on Life of Pi; and here he discusses his creative process.
And for the first time, Variety actually wrote about me rather than just publishing my own work!
BMI asked me to write a piece acknowledging the celebrated film composer’s 80th birthday. Here it is. I drew on interviews that I had done over the previous months, for Classical KUSC and Variety, for some of the quotes.
David Arnold is, without a doubt, one of the most fun composers in movies. He has a wicked, often dry wit — and yet takes his job very seriously. His five James Bond scores (from Tomorrow Never Dies to Quantum of Solace) took the series in new musical directions while maintaining a stylistic link with the classic John Barry scores of old. He was exceedingly generous during the writing of my Bond music book, giving me an entire day to discuss his music (and this was the morning after his stellar performance at Barry’s memorial concert in London). Here is a story I wrote in the aftermath of his acceptance of BMI’s highest award, when he was preparing to be musical director for the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. And here is another, from 2002, that I wrote for BMI about his third 007 score, Die Another Day.
BMI asked me to profile Alan Silvestri during the summer of 2010. He was just about to start music for The A-Team, but I was anxious to talk about the role of technology in a film composer’s life, his wonderful Christmas carol for Andrea Bocelli — and the unique thing about Silvestri, which was the fact that he also owns a successful winery. (And those wines have won numerous industry awards.)