Interviewing James S. Levine (photo courtesy CW3 PR)
Interviewing Alf Clausen (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision, courtesy Television Academy)
I’ve participated in many concerts over the years, but few can compare with the extraordinary evening of television music we did at UCLA’s Royce Hall Wednesday night. I was honored to host, and to conduct on-stage interviews with the likes of John Lunn (Downton Abbey), Alf Clausen (The Simpsons), Sean Callery (Elementary), James S. Levine (American Horror Story) and Walter Murphy (Family Guy).
A sold-out audience got to hear music by all these composers, plus Jeff Beal (House of Cards), Bear McCreary (DaVinci’s Demons), Trevor Morris (The Borgias) and Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones). One of my favorite moments was introducing Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (Nurse Jackie) and declaring that they are “leading the way for the next generation of women composers in Hollywood.“Here is a rundown of the evening; here’s Variety’s story; and here’s another one from the TV Academy itself with more fun photos.
It’s been in the works for a year, but the pieces are now coming together and the Television Academy is going to stage its own concert of great music from current TV shows. (A few weeks after I broke this story, the Academy asked me to host the concert. I did.)
My first book was about TV themes, so it was a special honor for the Television Academy to invite me to participate in an evening celebrating that unique art form with some of its greatest practitioners. Earle Hagen (The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show) received a special award “for his pioneering work and enduring contributions,” and part of my job was interviewing Earle onstage, as well as longtime collaborators Mike Post and Steven Bochco about their work on shows like Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law. Vic Mizzy brought the house down with his amusing anecdotes about scoring The Addams Family and Green Acres. Here’s a story about the evening, and here’s a great BMI photo op with both Post and Hagen.
One of my favorite moments was when Robert Vaughn, introducing the spy-TV segment, was summoned to the podium by his old Man From U.N.C.L.E. pen communicator. Writer Arthur Greenwald, like me, was a great U.N.C.L.E. fan, and he supplied the prop; the audience loved the gag.
The loss of composer Jerry Goldsmith was, and is, incalculable. I did my best with this obituary for Variety but really tried to capture the breadth of the career and the immensity of its impact with this appreciation. And here, incidentally, is my two-hour Archive of American Television interview about Jerry’s long and distinguished career for the small screen. Jerry was kind enough to invite me to many of his scoring sessions in the 1990s and early 2000s, and every single one was memorable (even if the films were not).