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!
Rolfe Kent, the delightful English composer of Sideways, About Schmidt and Dexter, received BMI’s top award in 2012. Instead of the usual career profile, BMI asked me to pose 10 questions that might elicit some offbeat answers. (They did.) Also, here’s a story about the ceremony itself.
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.
Harry Gregson-Williams received BMI’s top honor in 2006, giving me a chance to review his career and include some salient quotes from directors whose films he has immeasurably enhanced. Harry’s Venice, Calif., studio was a marvel, and it was great fun to interview him there. Harry came up through the Zimmer ranks at Media Ventures and takes his job seriously — although not too seriously. He’s always fun to talk with. Here’s a review of the ceremony itself, which also saw a major award to TV composer Earle Hagen.
All those years covering this field and this was my first chance to meet Randy Edelman, whose music I’d been hearing since the days of MacGyver. He was about to win BMI’s Richard Kirk Award, so it was a wonderful opportunity to revisit such scores as Gettysburg, Come See the Paradise, Last of the Mohicans and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. Directors Rob Cohen, Ivan Reitman and Ronald Maxwell are also quoted. And here’s another favorite piece, a Los Angeles Times story from 2002 explaining why Edelman’s obscure, cancelled-Fox-series theme wound up becoming famous for its use in Olympics telecast.
Thomas Newman accepted BMI’s highest honor, the Richard Kirk Award, in 2000. It was the perfect time to revisit a number of career highlights, and to quote several of his collaborators including Sam Mendes (American Beauty), Frank Darabont (The Green Mile), Gillian Armstrong (Little Women) and Jon Avnet (Fried Green Tomatoes) — and to talk with Tom about the famous Newman legacy and his own circuitous path to film-music success.