To launch this season’s Variety coverage of the Emmy race in the music categories, I talked with a TV Academy governor and five music supervisors who may be possible nominees (for such diverse series as Halt & Catch Fire, Outsiders, Empire, Star, 13 Reasons Why and Ray Donovan) in the new category of Outstanding Music Supervision. Voters will judge these shows on the best use of songs (both original and licensed) in their dramatic contexts. For a second story about this year’s scores and songs, I interviewed the composers and songwriters of four of the season’s most talked-about TV shows: The Crown, Feud and Stranger Things and, for songs, that musical episode of The Flash.
Madeleine Brand, the host of KCRW’s daily talk show “Press Play,” invited me on today to talk about music in television. As always with Madeleine — one of L.A.’s best radio hosts, endlessly curious and super-well-informed — it was lots of fun, discussing music in Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Outlander, Empire and more. Here is a link to the show, where you can listen online.
Composer Fil Eisler (Revenge, Empire) came up with a unique approach to scoring Newtown, the new documentary about the Sandy Hook elementary-school shootings and their aftermath: ask 16 colleagues — all of whom felt equally strongly about the need for a solution to gun violence in America — to contribute music, while he worked closely with the director to apply the various musical moods to the film itself. I attended the scoring sessions just before Christmas, and wrote about it for Variety just as the film is about to debut at Sundance.
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.
This was a challenge: Trying to anticipate what might be nominated for the song category in the 2014-15 Emmy Awards. You can never really tell what the Television Academy music branch will decide. I finally called songwriters from Empire, Galavant, Glee, Inside Amy Schumer and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt… that is, Jim Beanz, Glenn Slater, Darren Criss, Schumer herself and Jeff Richmond. Here’s the story I wrote for this week’s Variety. I’d be delighted if all of these were honored… but you can never really tell.