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 Posted:   Aug 6, 2007 - 10:36 PM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

From tomorrow's Variety:

Academy bans CD music mailings
New regulation sows composer discord
By JON BURLINGAME
The era of the "for your consideration" soundtrack is over.
After decades in which composers and songwriters received specially pressed LPs and CDs of the music scores and songs of potential nominees, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has moved to ban mailings of all "recordings, sheet music (and) musicvideos of eligible songs or scores" to members.

New rule, posted Monday, caused a stir among composers, their reps and studio music execs, some of whom say they will formally protest the ban.

Acad exec administrator Ric Robertson said the rule was recommended to the board of governors by the music-branch executive committee. "They wanted to make sure that members are basing their evaluation of scores in the context of the movie," he said. "There's always the danger that if one is just listening to the CD, you're obviously not doing that."

Music-branch governor Charles Bernstein said members of the committee felt they were inundated at Oscar time with CDs, and "They'd like to not get these things in the mail that have nothing to do with the voting. It really wasn't needed in order to make a judgment about how the music works in the movie. If anything, it had the opposite effect: It could encourage people to vote for the music aside from the film."

Fox Music president Robert Kraft expressed surprise that screenplays could still be sent out but not soundtracks. "You're sending the words of the film? Why couldn't we send the scores?" he asked. "If a composer is considered, as I have been told, the last writer on the movie, shouldn't we be allowed to submit that contribution for consideration?"

Studios, and some publicists, spend thousands of dollars each year sending the 240 members of the Acad music branch specially pressed CDs of the scores and songs they most want to promote.

Publicist Ray Costa, who represents John Powell, Christopher Young and other composers, noted that many scores today contain music that the credited composer didn't actually write -- the result of a trend in which directors increasingly choose to license pre-existing music in addition to the new, original score -- and the CDs can help to clarify the distinctions in the minds of voters.

"The Academy has had very specific rules about that," Costa said. "The benefit of the CD is that people aren't credited for music they didn't write."

As another Acad member pointed out, this move sounds good on paper, "but if you had a song or score in contention, wouldn't you want it sent to members?"

In 1986, Herbie Hancock won the Oscar for "'Round Midnight," even though much of that score was not original. Last year's "Babel" win was also criticized in some quarters because, in addition to the original Gustavo Santaolalla music, there was music licensed from earlier works and music by other composers.

One music-branch committee member, who asked not to be identified, suggested that this rule may be revisited next year. As for this year, "That ship has sailed," he said.

As for the criticism that branch members are inundated, all Acad voters are asked to send mailing info to studios and have the option to request that they not receive certain items, such as screeners, scripts -- or CDs.

This change is just the latest in a series of tweaks made in the past few years to music-branch procedures for both nominating and voting in the music categories.

The CDs that are sent to the members are specially pressed to avoid content (commercial packaging, songs on the soundtrack not written by the composer, etc.) that would conflict with Acad rules on mailings.

Scores not commercially available often show up on eBay and fetch hundreds of dollars from fans. For example, Warner Bros.' two-CD promo of John Williams' "A.I." score, containing much more music than the commercial CD, was a highly sought-after item for months after the 2001 Oscars.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 6, 2007 - 11:35 PM   
 By:   zooba   (Member)

I think it's a wonderful idea. Yes, the music should be evaluated on how it plays in the picture, not as a separate, pop it in the car stereo listening experience.

Perhaps the Academy is finally "getting it".

I think it's a step in the right direction and a "fair' step for all the composers nominated.

Members should be sent the DVD's of the films as usual and the voters should watch the film and hear the music as one total experience.

IMHO

Zoob

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 12:13 AM   
 By:   franz_conrad   (Member)

I doubt this will have much of a positive impact on the kind of award-winners that are selected. The collector market is sure going to miss the extra music though. (I think of Academy Promos like COLD MOUNTAIN for example.)

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 12:18 AM   
 By:   Scott Bettencourt   (Member)

I doubt this will have much of a positive impact on the kind of award-winners that are selected. The collector market is sure going to miss the extra music though. (I think of Academy Promos like COLD MOUNTAIN for example.)

Me too (though I won't miss paying so much money for them).

However, there is still BAFTA, and the Golden Globes, so FYC discs may still exist -- they just won't get sent specifically to Academy voters (on the other hand, how much prestige is there in a BAFTA or Golden Globe for Best Score?)

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 12:27 AM   
 By:   scoringsessions   (Member)

I think it's a wonderful idea. Yes, the music should be evaluated on how it plays in the picture, not as a separate, pop it in the car stereo listening experience.

So how would someone watching (for example) KINGDOM OF HEAVEN know what was written by Harry Gregson-Williams, and what was tracked in by Graeme Revell, Marco Beltrami and Jerry Goldsmith?

What if an Academy member thought that the music worked SO WELL in the "Rise a Knight" sequence, that they decided that they would vote for the score - without knowing that it was actually from Goldsmith's THE 13TH WARRIOR?

On the other side too, wasn't it the idea of "hey that music was great in the film!" that resulted in Anne Dudley's THE FULL MONTY basically getting a statue?

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 12:48 AM   
 By:   franz_conrad   (Member)

Possibly it makes no difference though, Dan. After all, didn't all Academy members have a 16 minute CD of Gustavo Santaolalla's original contributions for BABEL last year. That hardly clarified things, I imagine.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 12:54 AM   
 By:   zooba   (Member)

I think it's a wonderful idea. Yes, the music should be evaluated on how it plays in the picture, not as a separate, pop it in the car stereo listening experience.

So how would someone watching (for example) KINGDOM OF HEAVEN know what was written by Harry Gregson-Williams, and what was tracked in by Graeme Revell, Marco Beltrami and Jerry Goldsmith?

What if an Academy member thought that the music worked SO WELL in the "Rise a Knight" sequence, that they decided that they would vote for the score - without knowing that it was actually from Goldsmith's THE 13TH WARRIOR?

On the other side too, wasn't it the idea of "hey that music was great in the film!" that resulted in Anne Dudley's THE FULL MONTY basically getting a statue?


Yes, very valid questions. It's not an easy situation any way you look at it. With all the different music contributors to a film these days, it surely makes it hard to know who exactly did what.

I remember when Maurice Jarre was nominated for Best Score for GHOST when we all "in the know" really know that the Main music attraction in that film was Alex North's "Unchained Melody" Theme, which people thought was the music that helped make the movie.

All of Alan Menken's wins (even though I love him as a composer) should have been in a separate Music and Song Score category as they shut out much better Dramatic Scores in those years, IMHO.

If only the general voting community knew as much as we know about the real "Score" music. They probably never will.

And we'll continue to bitch about it on the boards.


Zoob

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 1:26 AM   
 By:   Southall   (Member)

If they're going to do this, surely they need to take the next step and given the Oscar for "best use of music in a film" like Bafta does.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 1:37 AM   
 By:   Starkbier   (Member)

Publicist Ray Costa, who represents John Powell, Christopher Young and other composers, noted that many scores today contain music that the credited composer didn't actually write (...) and the CDs can help to clarify the distinctions in the minds of voters.


Is it really that desirable and honorable for a composer to be awarded for a hodgepodge of which he is only one of many contributors?

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 8:33 AM   
 By:   Josh "Swashbuckler" Gizelt   (Member)

I have long since lost interest in what score the Academy votes for. All too often the best original score is either one of the technical awards that is given as a nod to a film that isn't getting any of the top honors, or part of a sweep. I doubt most Academy members bothered to listen to the CDs before voting anyway.

This is disappointing to me, though, because those promos are great. It would be a shame if they're no longer going to be available.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 9:00 AM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)

I have long since lost interest in what score the Academy votes for. All too often the best original score is either one of the technical awards that is given as a nod to a film that isn't getting any of the top honors, or part of a sweep. I doubt most Academy members bothered to listen to the CDs before voting anyway.

This is disappointing to me, though, because those promos are great. It would be a shame if they're no longer going to be available.


Let me tell you what happens with Oscar promos. First of all, anyone who thinks they do up only 240 copies is living in a fool's paradise. They go to people in the Academy, Bafta and virtually all Golden Globe voters. And what happens? Ninety percent of them end up at record stores or with dealers who seek them out specifically to resell on eBay. So, not only are the Academy members NOT listening to them, they're selling them for profit - it's the same thing that happened with the screeners until they made sure they couldn't be resold.

Sheepishly, as I've said sheepishly before, I believe I started this trend way back in the day with A Little Romance, when I convinced the head of Varese to send the LP to the music branch of the Academy. He did. The score was nominated. We sent it again. The score won, despite much of it being arrangements of or just plain Vivaldi. But, now it's gone too far (what else is new in Hollywood), and no one, but no one, even opens these things, ESPECIALLY music branch people.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 10:31 AM   
 By:   Ag^Janus   (Member)


... So, not only are the Academy members NOT listening to them, they're selling them for profit ...


Low down, slimey, rotten ...

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 11:05 AM   
 By:   Scott Bettencourt   (Member)

If they're going to do this, surely they need to take the next step and given the Oscar for "best use of music in a film" like Bafta does.

Fortunately, that will never happen, since that BAFTA award can be fairly ridiculous -- for example, considering Kander & Ebb's Chicago songs as "Best Film Music" when all but one song was written for a stage musical decades earlier.

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 11:09 AM   
 By:   Southall   (Member)

If they're going to do this, surely they need to take the next step and given the Oscar for "best use of music in a film" like Bafta does.

Fortunately, that will never happen, since that BAFTA award can be fairly ridiculous -- for example, considering Kander & Ebb's Chicago songs as "Best Film Music" when all but one song was written for a stage musical decades earlier.


The Oscar award can be fairly ridiculous too, of course. There's no "original" in Bafta's title so giving the award to Chicago if the voters thought Chicago's use of music was better than any other film's isn't so silly as Oscar giving "best original score" to Babel when the original score is such an inconsequential part of the music in the film, surely.

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 11:12 AM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

First they tell us that music from sequels is no longer considered...

Now they tell us that they refuse to even promote the music at all? If the composer union had any gall, they'd do something about this - perferably going on strike.

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 11:51 AM   
 By:   Steve Johnson   (Member)

First they tell us that music from sequels is no longer considered...

Now they tell us that they refuse to even promote the music at all? If the composer union had any gall, they'd do something about this - perferably going on strike.


I think that would be a rather extreme and ill-advised action-- most of these guys like to eat.

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 12:48 PM   
 By:   scoringsessions   (Member)

If the composer union had any gall, they'd do something about this - perferably going on strike.

.... there is no composer union.

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 12:50 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

Bad news for score fans.

If not for FYC I would be w/o FLY AWAY HOME.

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 1:33 PM   
 By:   eplicon   (Member)

It never seems to matter what the rules are since most of the Academy remains clueless on what they're voting on. Even if they don't recognize the name or music they seem to vote for something based on the movie title. I didn't care for Hans Zimmer's win on THE LION KING; it was my least favorite of the nominees. And I felt he won because people were thinking "Oh, I loved that song!," (e.g., "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" or "The Circle of Life") not realizing Zimmer didn't write any of them.

I still would rather see nominees and winners voted for by the respective branches rather than as a whole, except for best movie. Probably will never happen.

 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2007 - 2:18 PM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

...there is no composer union.

Perhaps I misunderstood the function of The Society of Composers and Lyricists. I had gotten the notion that they were an attempt to loosely unionize that section of the industry...?

 
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