Writer-director-actor-singer Seth MacFarlane loves the orchestra — not just as backing for his albums and live musical appearances, but for his movies and TV shows too. He is a fan of classic movie scores and understands the value of real musicians helping to support the emotional needs of both drama and comedy. So for his new sci-fi series The Orville, debuting Sunday on Fox, he enlisted the services of three of the finest orchestral composers in Hollywood: Bruce Broughton, who scored the pilot and wrote the theme; Joel McNeely and John Debney, who are scoring the individual episodes. They are using orchestras of 60 to 70, which is much larger than the average TV ensemble these days. In this story for Variety, MacFarlane, Broughton and McNeely talk about the challenge and the fun involved.
Over the past eight years, the Film Music Foundation has been interviewing composers and others active in the movie-music business — getting down their life stories, their career anecdotes, their thoughts about this curious profession. I have been privileged to conduct many of these, and the Foundation (as part of its educational initiative) has now made them available online. Visit the website here — but be ready to spend a lot of time there, because most of these interviews are between two and three hours long! So far, I’ve done songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman; and composers Bruce Broughton, Bill Conti, Danny Elfman, Dave Grusin, Maurice Jarre, Laurence Rosenthal and Lalo Schifrin. (Others feature such giants as Patrick Doyle, Johnny Mandel, Van Alexander and Richard Sherman.) Three more interviews are scheduled for the first quarter of 2016.
The 2014-2015 Emmy Award nominees were unveiled this morning. Emmy divides TV music into five categories: original music for a series, original music for a movie/miniseries/special, music direction, music and lyrics (the song category) and main-title theme music. This year’s crop is especially diverse — everything from Penny Dreadful to Transparent — but is equally notable for what wasn’t nominated (songs from Empire or Galavant, for example). Here is a complete rundown with a bit of perspective. (And if Bruce Broughton wins for Texas Rising, his will mark a record 11th Emmy win.) Winners will be announced Sept. 19.
The subtitle of this wonderful new album by the brilliant concert pianist Gloria Cheng is “Great film composers and the piano.” A few years ago she was presented with a five-movement suite by Bruce Broughton; a four-movement piece by John Williams followed. Cheng then commissioned three more pieces (by Don Davis, Randy Newman and Michael Giacchino) and added a recent work by Alexandre Desplat. It’s a wide-ranging album in terms of mood, texture, color and complexity; I’ve played it several times and continue to find new facets and subtleties. Most of the liner notes are by the composers themselves, but I penned the introduction. Here is a piece that goes into more detail about it.
The disqualification of “Alone Yet Not Alone” from the Best Song category was much talked-about, yet hardly the first time that a tune from an obscure movie managed to sneak into the category. I attempted to add some historical perspective to the discussion with this Variety story. Then I broke down this year’s nominees in both Song and Score categories.
The Film Music Foundation has asked me to do a number of interviews for them, essentially long video “oral histories” of composers and lyricists active in film and TV music. The most recent is of Bruce Broughton, the Oscar-nominated, multi-Emmy-winning composer. This page will take you to excerpts of several, including Bruce as well as Bill Conti, Dave Grusin, Maurice Jarre, Laurence Rosenthal, Lalo Schifrin, and Marilyn and Alan Bergman.
For Rozsa’s centennial celebration, I worked with Academy execs to design a weekend of classic films (including The Thief of Bagdad and El Cid) and an evening of clips and talk culminating in a screening of Ivanhoe. Joining me on stage were composer Bruce Broughton, film historian Rudy Behlmer and the composer’s daughter Juliet Rozsa. All offered valuable insights and reminiscences. Here is Susan King’s preview of the weekend, featuring comments from all of us.