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SMALL SCREEN, BIG SCORES: PART ONE

A Chronology of Scores for TV Movies and Miniseries by Feature Composers (Plus a Bunch of Emmy Stuff Too)

By Scott Bettencourt

There is an alternate universe where the top movie composers write scores that rarely receive wide attention, that even more rarely receive a soundtrack release, and which are often only heard once or twice before disappearing.

That universe is the medium of television.

Don Siegel's remake of Hemingway's The Killers (score by "Johnny Williams") was intended to be the first so-called "Made-For-TV Movie" in the United States, but the end result (starring Lee Marvin and featuring Ronald Reagan, in his final acting role, as a mob boss) was deemed too violent for the innocent medium and was given a theatrical release instead. See How They Run (scored by a pre-Mission: Impossible Lalo Schifrin) became the first to air instead.

For film music fans, the nineteen seventies were something of a Golden Age of TV movie music, as top feature composers such as Jerry Goldsmith and Elmer Bernstein worked for TV regularly, as a perceived increase in the popularity of pop music in movies caused them to be hired less regularly.

The decade was also a Golden Age for fans of science-fiction and horror, as ABC's regular ninety-minute "Movie of the Week" featured a wide variety of stories in the genre, including several classics written by the great Richard Matheson -- Duel, The Night Stalker, Trilogy of Terror.

The epic-length adaptation of Leon Uris' novel QB VII, an "ABC Novel For Television," was the first official "miniseries," and featured a memorable performance by Anthony Hopkins (who was a TV staple of the era, playing such roles as Hitler and Bruno Hauptmann) and an Emmy winning score by Goldsmith. QB VII was followed by such miniseries milestones as Rich Man Poor Man, Roots, The Winds of War, and the superb Lonesome Dove.

In order to make this chronology practical, I am limiting the list of composers to those who have had a strong presence in features -- to list every single TV movie/miniseries and its composer would be (at least for me) impossible -- including those like Fred Karlin and Billy Goldenberg who have ultimately scored far more TV shows than features but have done enough major movies to count them as feature composers (Karlin, for example, has an Oscar and four nominations).

This is not in any way meant to disparage the talents of those composers who have had prolific careers in television, such as Pete Carpenter, Robert Cobert, Allyn Ferguson, Earle Hagen, Joe Harnell, Ron Jones, Dennis McCarthy, Mike Post, Mark Snow and Morton Stevens, but whose feature presence has been relatively minimal.


1954

This was the seventh year of the Emmy awards, and the first year there would be a music category -- two categories, in fact:

ORIGINAL MUSIC

Bernard Herrmann - A Christmas Carol
Gian Carlo Menotti - Amahl and the Night Visitor
Walter Schumann - Dragnet
Victor Young - Diamond Jubilee of Light
Victor Young - Medic

SCORING OF A DRAMATIC OR VARIETY PROGRAM

Buddy Bregman - Anything Goes
Gordon Jenkins - Shower of Stars (first show)
Nelson Riddle - Satins and Spurs
Walter Scharf - Here Comes Donald
Victor Young - Diamond Jubilee of Light


1955

This year the music Emmy was reduced to one category, incorporating scoring, songwriting, and arranging:

MUSICAL CONTRIBUTION

David Broekman - Wide Wide World (series scoring)
Sammy Cahn, James Van Heusen - Our Town (song: "Love and Marriage")
Sammy Cahn, James Van Heusen - Our Town (score)
Camarata - Together With Music (arranging)
Nelson Riddle - Our Town (arranging)


1956

MUSICAL CONTRIBUTION

Leonard Bernstein - Omnibus (composing, conducting)
Sidney Fine - Medic (orchestrations of Victor Young's music)
Nelson Riddle - Rosemary Clooney Show (arrangement of musical score)
Walter Schumann - Tennessee Ernie Ford Show (vocal arrangements)
Oliver Wallace - Disneyland TV Show (composing of score)


1957

MUSICAL CONTRIBUTION

Mitchell Ayres - Perry Como Show (music direction)
Robert Russell Bennett - The Innocent Years on Project 20 (arranging and conducting)
Leonard Bernstein - Omnibus (conducting and analyzing music of Johann Sebastian Bach)
Nelson Riddle - Frank Sinatra Show (arranging and conducting)
Richard Rodgers - Cinderella (music score)


1958/1959

MUSICAL CONTRIBUTION

Frank De Vol - Lux Show Starring Rosemary Clooney (musical direction)
Bernard Green - Johnny Belinda (musical direction)
Henry Mancini - Peter Gunn (composing theme)
Eddy Manson - Harvey (composing and conducting)
David Rose - An Evening With Fred Astaire (musical direction)
Paul Weston - Art Carney Meets "Peter and the Wolf" (composing and conducting)

At this point, the Emmys began to cover TV seasons instead of the calendar year. In the following year, the 1959/1960 Emmys did not include a music category.


1961

THE POWER AND THE GLORY - Laurence Rosenthal
14:25 of score released on the composer promo 2-CD set Laurence Rosenthal: Film Music; the program was an adaptation of Graham Greene's novel (previously filmed by John Ford as The Fugitive) and starred Laurence Olivier as a "whisky priest" in a Latin-American country and George C. Scott as a policeman.

For the 1960/1961 season, the Emmys reinstated their music category, now titled:

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC

Leonard Bernstein - Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonnic
Andre Previn - The Donald O'Connor Show
Pete Rugolo, Jerry Goldsmith - Thriller


1962

THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP - Ron Grainer

OLIVER TWIST - Ron Grainer

In the 1961/1962 season, the Emmy category name was changed to:

ORIGINAL MUSIC FOR TELEVISION

Jacques Belasco - Vincent Van Gogh: A Self Portrait
Robert Russell Bennett - Project 20
Richard Rodgers - Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years
Leith Stevens - The Dick Powell Show (The Price of Tomatoes)
John Williams - Alcoa Premiere


1963

LE CHEVALIER DE MAISON ROUGE - Antoine Duhamel

LES RUSTRES - Maurice Jarre

Emmy nominations, 1962/1963 season:

ORIGINAL MUSIC

Robert Russell Bennett - Project 20 (He Is Risen)
Eddy Manson - The River Nile
Gian Carlo Menotti - Labyrinth
Joseph Mullendore - The Dick Powell Theater
Johnny Williams - Alcoa Premiere


1964

THE GHOST OF SIERRA DE COBRA - Dominic Frontiere

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM - Antoine Duhamel

SEE HOW THEY RUN - Lalo Schifrin
This spy thriller starring John Forsythe was the first official "Made-For-TV Movie" in the U.S. Schifrin and director David Lowell Rich reteamed on three more occasions, the last time for The Concorde: Airport 79.

1963/1964 Emmy nominations:

ORIGINAL MUSIC

Georges Auric - The Kremlin
John Barry - Elizabeth Taylor in London
Elmer Bernstein - The Making of the President 1960
Kenyon Hopkins - East Side, West Side
George Kleinsinger - Greece: The Golden Age
Ulpio Minucci, Joe Moon, Rayburn Wright - Saga of Western Man


1965

BELPHEGOR - Antoine Duhamel

For the 1964/1965 season, the Emmys temporarily changed the structure of the nominations, lumping each group of nominees into categories such as "Actors and Performers," "Art Directors and Set Decorators," "Musicians," and so on.

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN ENTERTAINMENT - MUSICIANS

Herbert Grossman - The Fantasticks (Music Director)
Peter Matz - My Name is Barbra (Music Director)

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN NEWS, DOCUMENTARIES AND SPORTS - MUSICIANS

Norman Dello Joio - The Louvre
Ulpio Minucci, Rayburn Wright - I, Leonardo Da Vinci (Saga of Western Man)


1966

THE DOOMSDAY FLIGHT - Lalo Schifrin
Rod Serling script about a ransom plot involving a bomb on a plane

1965/1966 Emmy nominations:

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENTS IN MUSIC - COMPOSITION

Jerry Goldsmith - The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (main theme)
Earle Hagen - I Spy
David Rose - Bonanza
Laurence Rosenthal - Michaelangelo: The Last Giant
Pete Rugolo - Run For Your Life
Lalo Schifrin - The Making of the President 1964
Morton Stevens - Gunsmoke (Seven Hours to Dawn)

There was also a category for "Conducting." All of the nominees were for variety shows, except for Laurence Rosenthal receiving a nomination for the documentary Michaelangelo: The Last Giant. However, despite the six nominees there was no award given in the conducting category this year.


1967

THE BORGIA STICK - Kenyon Hopkins

CODE NAME: HERACLITUS - Johnny Mandel

HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION - Lalo Schifrin

THE LONGEST HUNDRED MILES - Franz Waxman
Waxman's only tv-movie score, written shortly before his death. The plot involves refugees escaping the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II, and stars Doug McClure and Katharine Ross

RETURN OF THE GUNFIGHTER - Hans J. Salter
Western starring Robert Taylor

THE SCORPIO LETTERS - Dave Grusin

STRANGER ON THE RUN - Leonard Rosenman
Thriller directed by Don Siegel, and starring Henry Fonda in his TV movie debut

SULLIVAN'S EMPIRE - Lalo Schifrin

UPIOR - Wojciech Kilar

1966/1967 Emmy Nominations:

ACHIEVEMENTS IN MUSIC - COMPOSITION

Aaron Copland - CBS Playhouse (thematic music)
Earle Hagen - I Spy
Pete Rugolo - Run For Your Life
Lalo Schifrin - Mission: Impossible

There was no award given in this category this year.


1968

COMPANIONS IN NIGHTMARE - Bernard Herrmann
Herrmann's only TV movie score (not counting his two original "television operas" - A Christmas Carol [1954] and A Child is Born [1955]), directed by his friend Norman Lloyd, starring Melvyn Douglas and Anne Baxter

THE COUNTERFEIT KILLER - Quincy Jones

ESCAPE TO MINDANAO - Lyn Murray

HEIDI - John Williams
Score and Dialogue LP released on Capitol; 1968/1969 Emmy winner Musical Composition

NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON'T - Lyn Murray

PRESCRIPTION: MURDER - Dave Grusin
The first pilot TV movie for Columbo, featuring Gene Barry as the murderer; writers Richard Levinson and William Link based the movie on their play, which had featured Oscar winner Thomas Mitchell as Columbo

SHADOW ON THE LAND - Sol Kaplan

SHADOW OVER ELVERON - Leonard Rosenman

THE SMUGGLERS - Lyn Murray

SPLIT SECOND TO AN EPITAPH - Quincy Jones
Pilot TV movie for Ironside

THIBAUD THE CRUSADER - Georges Delerue
Score CD on Prometheus

1967/1968 Emmy Nominations:

MUSICAL COMPOSITION

Bernard Green - CBS Playhouse (My Father and My Mother)
Earle Hagen - I Spy (Laya)
Pete Rugolo - Run For Your Life (Cry Hard, Cry Fast)
Lalo Schifrin - Mission: Impossible (The Seal)
Morton Stevens - Gunsmoke (Major Glory)
Harry Sukman - The High Chapparal (The Champion of the Western World)

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