by Dan Goldwasser
Last month, the Society of Composers and Lyricists held its annual reception honoring the Primetime Emmy Nominees in the music categories. The event, held at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in Los Angeles, brought out most of the nominees, and plenty of entertainment industry professionals. On hand to congratulate the nominees was the President of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Jim Chabin. All of the nominees present had a great time, including Martin Davich ("ER") and W.G. "Snuffy" Walden ("The West Wing").
A few days later, Hollywood itself celebrated television music with a special event at the Hollywood Bowl. Entitled "Television Night at the Bowl: A Celebration of Television Music", the evening had so much buzz around it that it drew out some of the biggest stars from television's past. Following the traditional "Star Spangled Banner", conductor John Mauceri started the evening with an "Overture" suite, containing such television themes as "Dragnet", "Peter Gunn" and "Hawaii 5-0". He then introduced our host for the evening, Mary Tyler Moore. Moore was chipper and upbeat (as always), and introduced the first major piece of the evening: a suite from Lonesome Dove. After the wonderful suite, composer Basil Poledouris popped out to take a bow.
A tribute to Variety Shows required some live singing and dancing, provided by the ever-entertaining Jason Alexander ("Seinfeld") and Jane Krakowski ("Ally McBeal"). Then came a tribute to the Hallmark Hall of Fame, which combined the orchestral performance of Gates of Gold by Joseph Curiale with images and clips from over 50-years of Hallmark Hall of Fame original films. Afterwards, veteran television composer Mike Post came out to conduct the orchestra in a special suite of his themes, ranging from "Hill Street Blues" and "The A-Team" to "Doogie Howser, M.D." and "Law and Order".
For the final act before intermission, actor Robert Guillaume ("Benson", "Sports Night") came out to read the narrative portion of a special 20-minute tribute to "Victory at Sea". The landmark television event ran for 26-episodes, for which composer Richard Rogers had written a colossal 13-hours of music. Arranged by Robert Russell Bennett, the condensed 20-minute suite was chock-full of the various themes and musical motifs that Rogers had written. Guillaume's narration was enjoyable, and complemented the music and images on screen.
After the intermission, the Bowl Orchestra performed a rendition of Mark Snow's theme from "The X-Files". It's not the same without the whistle, but they did a rather admirable job performing the concert version. When it was done, Snow popped out to wave to the orchestra, and we were informed that it was his birthday. Moore then informed us that we would be taking a trip to the stars, with a suite consisting of themes from "Star Trek", "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". Why they didn't perform Jerry Goldsmith's theme to "Star Trek: Voyager" is beyond me, but afterwards composers Alexander Courage and Dennis McCarthy came out to wave to the audience.
The highest paid television actor in history, Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier") came out to explain the importance of lyrics. To demonstrate the point, he read the lyrics from the main title song to "Rawhide". Suffice it to say, it was a rather funny thing to do, and the audience ate it up. (Given Grammer's penchant for over-dramatizing, this was quite a wonderful tongue-in-cheek reading of the lyrics.) He then introduced the Sing Along. But to help the audience in singing along would be a few of television's favorite stars: Florence Henderson ("The Brady Bunch"), Shirley Jones ("The Partridge Family"), Connie Stevens ("Hawaiian Eye"), John Astin ("The Addams Family"), Ja'Net DuBois ("Good Times") and others. The songs that were sung included the titles I just mentioned, as well as some classics: "Howdy Doody", "Mickey Mouse Club March", "Sesame Street", "Love is All Around" (from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", led by, of course, Mary herself), and even "Happy Days", led by Marion Ross. After the end of the Sing Along, legendary performer Dick Van Dyke himself came out (much to the delight of the audience), and sang (along with backup) the never-before-performed lyrical version of the theme to "The Dick Van Dyke Show".
After a wonderfully moving suite of music from W.G. "Snuffy" Walden's music to "The West Wing", child actress Lauren Frost ("Even Stevens") sang "Over the Rainbow" from a Chicago production of The Wizard of Oz, which she was performing in this past summer. With backup from the Mustard Seeds of Faith Children's Choir, they also sang "Amazing Grace". I am honestly not sure what these songs have to do with television music, but it was a pleasant performance nonetheless. The finale to the concert was a performance of John Williams's "Liberty Fanfare", written to celebrate the restoration of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. As one would hope, fireworks were indeed part of this performance, and after a display that truly awed the audience, the concert was over.
Or so we thought. As expected, there were encores! The first, the "I Love Lucy" theme, was followed by a second - when Mauceri started playing the "Carol Burnett Show" theme - and on stage walked the red-headed wonder herself! She sang "I'm Glad We Had This Time Together", much to the delight of the audience, and then with a classic tug of her ear, the concert truly ended. It was indeed a celebration of television music, and with over 60-years of shows to choose from, it's hard to please everyone. Never the less, I think that the producers of the show did a wonderful job picking the music, and I hope they do indeed follow through on the plan to make this an annual event - there's much more music to be heard.
The Creative Arts Emmy Awards were held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on September 8, and the winners were: Jay Chattaway for his underscore to "End Game" from "Star Trek: Voyager"; Arturo Sandoval for his underscore to "For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story"; Marvin Hamlisch for his music direction on "Barbara Streisand: Timeless"; Patrick Williams for his music and lyrics to the song "A Dream That Only I Can Know" from "Yesterday's Children"; James Newton Howard for his main title theme to "Gideon's Crossing".
Special thanks to Ray Costa and Chad Joseph at Costa Communications, Rochelle Roe at the Hollywood Bowl Press Office and Hanna.