The latest in the increasingly popular “live-to-film” concert trend is The Godfather, which had its Los Angeles debut on Saturday with Justin Freer conducting the Hollywood Studio Symphony while the 1972 classic unspooled on-screen. This preview story gave me a chance to look back at the Oscar music controversy that occurred in early 1973 — and to hear from a musician who actually played for legendary composer Nino Rota on the The Godfather Part II in 1974, then played in Saturday’s concert, which I reviewed here for Variety.
The fact that at least 15 films at Sundance this year have been scored by female composers, and that the newly formed Alliance for Women Film Composers is celebrating there, was the reason for this story in the Sundance section of this week’s Variety. Among those interviewed: prime movers Laura Karpman and Miriam Cutler. At left is a photo from the original event (Aug. 20, 2013) that started it all — a who’s-who of women composers active in film, TV and games gathered together by BMI’s Doreen Ringer Ross.
That’s the headline in the print version of this Variety story about composer Harry Gregson-Williams and the firestorm he ignited when he posted about how little was left of his score for Michael Mann’s cyber-thriller Blackhat, which opened last weekend. It was unusual for a composer to air this kind of complaint, although for those in the film-music biz it was no surprise to hear that the mercurial director sought out multiple composers to get the final “score” he wanted. My story goes into more detail, and offers more historical perspective, than any other.
In early December, I visited a fun scoring session with songwriters Alan Menken and Glenn Slater for the new comedy musical series Galavant. This piece goes behind the scenes to explain how difficult it is, and all the work that goes into producing a weekly musical for TV. I love delving into the history of these things, so I mentioned ABC’s landmark That’s Life and Cop Rock series right up front.
I have been writing about the steady decline of work for L.A.’s studio musicians for 15 years. Back in 2000, I covered the issue at length in the Los Angeles Times. Film-scoring work has continued to plummet, as documented in a recent “white paper” partially funded by the American Federation of Musicians. In this new story for Variety, I look at this very divisive issue and the reasons that, according to one veteran player, musicians are “at each other’s throats” about whether to give up residual payments in order to retrieve the recording work that increasingly goes to London or Eastern Europe.