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20. RUPERT GREGSON-WILLIAMS

2008 RANKING: 24
AGE: 43
BIRTHPLACE: England
REPRESEMTATION: Gorfaine/Schwartz
1 EMMY NOMINATION
ONGOING FILMMAKER RELATIONSHIPS:
DreamWorks Animation, Adam Sandler
BACKGROUND: Brother of Harry Gregson-Williams, St. John College, rock musician, pop songwriter-producer, Media Ventures, British TV composer
FAN FAVORITE: Over the Hedge
TYPECAST IN: Comedy, animation
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Over the Hedge--155 (U.S. gross in millions)
2. Click--137
3. Bee Movie--126
4. I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry--119
5. Bedtime Stories--109 
6. You Don't Mess with the Zohan--100 
7. Made of Honor--46 
8. What a Girl Wants--35
9. Hotel Rwanda--23

Gregson-Williams has become the regular composer for Adam Sandler's self-produced starring vehicles, which as the list above shows accounts for four $100 million-plus grossers, but as is the trend with Sandler productions, no score CDs ever seem to result. Though Sandler's ventures outside his own Happy Madison production company (Spanglish, Reign Over Me, Funny People) have proved to be less than stellar at the box-office while demonstrating his underrated acting abilities, his own productions are consistent money-makers, and as long as Gregson-Williams stays at Happy Madison -- their next project together is the seemingly sure-fire hit Grown Ups, teaming Sandler with Chris Rock, Kevin James, Rob Schneider and David Spade -- he seems likely to add more hits to his resume. The Patrick Dempsey vehicle Made of Honor also did respectable business, and for some creative stretching he scored the recent reworking of the cult classic TV series The Prisoner.

WHAT'S NEXT: Grown Ups
 

2008 RANKING: 12
AGE: 66
BIRTHPLACE: Los Angeles, California
REP: Gorfaine/Schwartz
1 OSCAR, 17 NOMINATIONS
2 EMMYS
4 GRAMMYS, 12 NOMINATIONS
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES:
Awakenings, Seabiscuit
RELATIONSHIPS: John Lasseter, Pixar, Jay Roach
BACKGROUND: Nephew of Alfred Newman, popular singer-songwriter-pianist
FAN FAVORITE: The Natural
TYPECAST IN: Comedy, computer animation
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Meet the Fockers--278
2. Monsters Inc.--252
3. Toy Story 2--245
4. Cars--244
5. Toy Story--191
6. Meet the Parents--166
7. A Bug's Life--162
8. Seabiscuit--120
9. Maverick--101
10. Parenthood--100

Newman has been scoring films for nearly forty years, and his songs are a mainstay of the Academy's Original Song category, so it comes as rather a surprise that this year's new Disney animated feature, The Princess and the Frog, is the first time he has written both the song score and the incidental music for the same film [Correction: Newman also wrote songs and score for James and the Giant Peach, and was even Oscar-nominated for his score. Oops]. The end result was well worth the wait, as the charming cartoon features Newman working at the top of his form both as a score composer and as a song writer with his distinctively droll Americana sound fitting in especially well, though, mysteriously, some of his best numbers ("Friends on the Other Side," "When We're Human") were not among those submitted for Oscar consideration (the latest tweak to the Music Branch rules specifies that only two songs from a particular film can ultimately be nominated, though the rules don't limit the number that can be submitted). The George Clooney-directed period football comedy Leatherheads proved to be a critical and box-office disappointment, but Newman will reportedly return to familiar ground with the upcoming Toy Story 3, which if nothing else will mark the composer's first entry into the 3D sweepstakes.

WHAT'S NEXT: Toy Story 3
 

2008 RANKING: 16
AGE: 58
BIRTHPLACE: New York, New York
REP: First Artists Management
1 OSCAR NOMINATION
1 EMMY, 4 NOMINATIONS
2 GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES:
Quiz Show, Crash
RELATIONSHIPS: Frank Darabont, Gary Fleder, Paul Haggis, Wayne Kramer, Gavin O'Connor, Robert Redford
BACKGROUND: Jazz & classical trumpeter (for San Francisco Opera Orchestra, bands), Windham Hill recording artist
FAN FAVORITE: Fly Away Home
TYPECAST IN: Drama
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Save the Last Dance--91
2. Eight Below--81
3. Blade--70
4. Miracle--64
5. Rules of Engagement--61
6. Kiss the Girls--60
7. Invincible--57
8. Don't Say a Word--54
9. Crash--54
10. Kicking & Screaming--52

Mark Isham has continued to be remarkably prolific but none of his recent projects have proved to be genuine box-office hits. His highest grossing film since the last top 40 countdown was the period drama The Secret Life of Bees, for which he wrote a restrained and moving score, and recent projects cover a remarkable variety of genres and musical styles. He provided light jazz for The Women; darker, more urban sounds for Crossing Over, Pride and Glory and Werner Herzog's reimagining of Bad Lieutenant; period flavor for My One and Only; orchestral uplift for the sports drama The Express; and bits of incidental music for the predictably song-dominated reworking of Fame. He continues this eclectic trend with a rare horror project, the imminent remake of George Romero's 1970s thriller The Crazies.

WHAT'S NEXT:  The Crazies
 

2008 RANKING: 33
AGE: 46
BIRTHPLACE: Scotland
REP: First Artists Management
1 EMMY NOMINATION
BEST PICTURE NOMINEE:
Sideways
RELATIONSHIPS: Alexander Payne, Jason Reitman, Richard Shepard
BACKGROUND: Self-taught musician, stage composer
FAN FAVORITE: Election
TYPECAST IN: Comedy, comedy, and more comedy
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Wedding Crashers--209
2. Freaky Friday--110
3. Legally Blonde--90
4. Legally Blonde 2: Red White & Blonde--89
5. Failure to Launch--88
6. Mean Girls--86
7. Sideways--71
8. About Schmidt--65
9. 17 Again--64 
10 Ghost of Girlfriends Past--55 

While Kent continues to be typecast as a comedy composer, he managed to show two different sides of his abilities in the genre during the year just ended. He provided traditional orchestral comedy stylings for two modestly successful Hollywood farces, the formulaic Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and 17 Again, but he had the opportunity to display his more creative side in two late-year George Clooney vehicles, The Men Who Stare at Goats and the likely Oscar contender Up in the Air, which featured his most satisfying scores in years, and mastered the tricky challenge of finding the right tone for these offbeat projects. One can only hope that Kent will be along for the ride when his usual collaborator Alexander Payne finally starts his new film this year, six years after the release of Sideways.


16. CHRISTOPHE BECK

2008 RANKING: 32
AGE: 37
BIRTHPLACE: Montreal, Canada
REP: Kraft-Engel
1 EMMY, 2 NOMINATIONS
RELATIONSHIPS:
Steven Brill, Chris Columbus, Shawn Levy, Todd Philips, Audrey Wells,
BACKGROUND: USC film scoring program (under Jerry Goldsmith), TV composer
FAN FAVORITE: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV)
TYPECAST IN: Youth/family comedy, aftermath of drunken Vegas vacation comedies
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. The Hangover--277 
2. Cheaper by the Dozen--137
3. American Wedding--104
4. The Pink Panther--82
5. What Happens in Vegas--80 
6. Garfield--75
7. Fred Claus--71
8. Bring It On--68
9. Without a Paddle--58
10. Just Married--56

The Hangover may have had a relatively small amount of original score, but its status as the highest grossing comedy in many years (as well as the rare low farce that also received good critical notices) makes it a high mark on Beck's resume. The combined grosses of the other recent Beck-scored comedies (All About Steve, I Love You, Beth Cooper, Pink Panther 2, Post Grad) come nowhere near matching Hangover's box-office, but his prolific output reinforces that he's as widely in demand as ever. He wrote one of his best scores yet for the little seen drama Phoebe in Wonderland, while his collaboration with A-lister Chris Columbus on I Love You, Beth Cooper is leading to perhaps his largest-scaled production yet, the would-be fantasy franchise starter Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

WHAT'S NEXT:  Date Night, Death at a Funeral, Due Date, Hot Tub Time Machine, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Waiting for Superman


 
2008 RANKING: 22
AGE: 59
BIRTHPLACE: New York, New York
REP: Gorfaine/Schwartz
2 OSCAR NOMINATIONS
3 GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
BEST PICTURE NOMINEE:
Forrest Gump
RELATIONSHIPS: Stephen Sommers, Robert Zemeckis
BACKGROUND: Berklee College of Music, pop arranger, TV composer (CHiPs)
FAN FAVORITES: Predator, Back to the Future
TYPECAST IN: Adventure, comedy
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Forrest Gump--329
2. Night at the Museum--250
3. Cast Away--233
4. Back to the Future--208
5. The Mummy Returns--202
6. What Women Want--182
7. The Polar Express--181   
8. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian--177 
9. What Lies Beneath--155
10. Who Framed Roger Rabbit--154

Silvestri fans have been practically starved in recent years for new scores from their hero, but this year the gods were bountiful and there were three new projects from the composer. The inevitable sequel to the blockbuster Night at the Museum may not have been quite the cash cow that its predecessor was, but it still managed to reach the number eight slot on Silvestri's list of biggest hits, and gave the composer another opportunity to write a lively fantasy-adventure score. He scored his third film for director Stephen Sommers, the megabudget guilty pleasure G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and it allowed Silvestri to work in the militaristic action style that won him many fans with Predator over two decades ago. He closed out the year with his 13th score for Robert Zemeckis and their third CG/3D motion capture project, the impressive remake of A Christmas Carol, and the team may return to live action with a film version of Jonathan Franzen's acclaimed novel The Corrections. Silvestri himself will return to action with the feature version of The A-Team.  

WHAT'S NEXT:  The A-Team   

14. HARRY GREGSON-WILLIAMS

2008 RANKING: 11
AGE: 48
REP: Gorfaine/Schwartz
1 GRAMMY NOMINATION
BACKGROUND:
Child choir singer, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, orchestrator for Stanley Myers, Media Ventures
RELATIONSHIPS: Andrew Adamson, Dreamworks, Dan Ireland, Tony Scott
FAN FAVORITE: The Chronicles of Narnia
TYPECAST IN: Animation, action, fantasy-adventure
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Shrek 2--436
2. Shrek the Third--320
3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe--291
4. Shrek--263
5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine--179 
6. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian--141 
7. Enemy of the State--111
8. Spy Kids--111
9. Chicken Run--106
10. Antz--90

Gregson-Williams became the fourth composer to try his hand at the X-Men franchise with last year's Wolverine-centered prequel, and despite negative advance buzz the film ended up doing impressive business, and having a superhero hit on his resume can only help the composer. He continued his collaboration with Tony Scott on the moderately successful remake of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, where, unfortunately, the current trends in film scoring discouraged him from writing anything as distinctive and memorable as David Shire's popular score for the original film. While varying his oeuvre with smaller-scaled projects like I Am Bad and Jolene, he returns to the (potential) franchise realm this summer with the fantasy adventure Prince of Persia, and is rumored to be reuniting with Tony Scott for the runaway train thriller Unstoppable. (The Gorfaine/Schwartz website confirms that Gregson-Williams is signed for Unstoppable, as well as the next Shrek)

WHAT'S NEXT: I Am Bad, Jolene, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Shrek Forever After, Unstoppable


 
2008 RANKING: 7
AGE: 63
BIRTHPLACE: Toronto, Canada
REP: Columbia Artists Management
3 OSCARS
3 GRAMMYS, 6 NOMINATIONS
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES:
The Silence of the Lambs, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Gangs of New York, The Return of the King, The Aviator, The Departed
RELATIONSHIPS: David Cronenberg, Martin Scorsese
BACKGROUND: Pop musician, Saturday Night Live bandleader
FAN FAVORITES: Lord of the Rings series
TYPECAST IN: Thrillers
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King--377
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers--339
3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring--313
4. Mrs. Doubtfire--219
5. The Departed--132
6. The Silence of the Lambs--130
7. Big--114
8. Analyze This--106
9. The Aviator--102
10. Seven--100

It's unlikely Shore will ever again score a project on the scale of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which gave him the kind of exposure that few orchestral film composers ever experience (though he may come close with his rumored participation on the two-part Hobbit film). Before Rings sent him into the Really Big Time, he seemed most comfortable with smaller, darker projects -- he has always come across as a composer more interested in finding creative musical challenges than in padding his resume with blockbusters – and recently he scored two small, Oscar-nominated films, the powerful drama Doubt and the documentary biopic/memoir The Betrayal (Nerakhoon). Fourteen years ago, his grim, edgy score for Ron Howard's Ransom was thrown out and replaced by a new one from James Horner, so it's ironic that another Mel-Gibson-as-Father-Fighting-Back thriller, 2010's Edge of Darkness, should have its own score (by John Corigliano) replaced by a new one by Shore. Martin Scorsese decided to rely on tracked-in music for his new thriller, Shutter Island, but he is rumored to be reuniting with Shore for the period drama Silence, which has yet to go into production. (This just in: according to MovieScore Magazine, Shore will be scoring Eclipse, the third in the Twilight series.)

WHAT'S NEXT: Edge of Darkness, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
 

 
2008 RANKING: 15
AGE: 54
BIRTHPLACE: New York, New York
REP: First Artists Management
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES: Fargo, No Country for Old Men
RELATIONSHIPS: Joel & Ethan Coen, Bill Condon, John Lee Hancock, Spike Jonze
BACKGROUND: Harvard (architecture, animation), punk rock
FAN FAVORITE: Fargo
TYPECAST IN: Biopics
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. The Blind Side--218 (as of 1/10/10)
2. Twilight--191 
3. The General's Daughter--102
4. Where the Wild Things Are--76 (1/10/10) 
5. Conspiracy Theory--76
6. The Rookie--75
7. No Country for Old Men--74  
8. Three Kings--60
9. Burn After Reading--60 
10. A Knight's Tale--55

Around the turn of the last century, Burwell seemed to be gravitating towards more commercial projects such as Conspiracy Theory and The General's Daughter, but as one who began his career working with the Coen brothers, it makes sense that Burwell, like Howard Shore, has seemed particularly comfortable with smaller, darker projects. One of his most acclaimed films, the Coens' No Country for Old Men, proved to be one of his highest grossers as well as having perhaps his most minimal score, but in the two years since its release he's scored not only two acclaimed Coen projects but also two genuine blockbusters -- the smash hit Twilight and the even more successful The Blind Side (his third film for director John Lee Hancock). Credits like that (as well as his co-scoring of the critically acclaimed Where the Wild Things Are) could ensure Burwell's place in the big time, but he seems content to pursue his muse with smaller projects like an upcoming biopic on poet Alan Ginsburg.  It is presumed he will reunite with the Coens for a rare venture into the Western genre, the remake of True Grit.

WHAT'S NEXT: Howl

11. THEODORE SHAPIRO

2008 RANKING: 23
AGE: 38
BIRTHPLACE: Washington D.C.
REP: Gorfaine/Schwartz
BACKGROUND: Julliard, concert composer
RELATIONSHIPS: Will Ferrell, David Frankel, John Hamburg, Karyn Kusama, Michael Showalter, Rawson Marshall Thurber
FAN FAVORITE: Heist
TYPECAST IN: Comedy
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Marley & Me--143 
2. The Devil Wears Prada--124
3. Blades of Glory--118
4. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story--114
5. Fun with Dick and Jane--110
6. Tropic Thunder--110 
7. Starsky & Hutch--88
8. Along Came Polly--87
9. You, Me and Dupree--75
10. Old School--74

Despite his classial training and his effective thriller score for 2001's Heist, Theodore Shapiro's list of top-ten grossers demonstrates pretty effectively why he’'s been so thoroughly typecast in comedies. The surprisingly funny Tropic Thunder showed his skill with straight-faced action scoring, while the even more successful Marley & Me allowed him to demonstrate his warmer side. He made a rare venture into horror with the box-office disappointment Jennifer's Body, while one of his more satisfying recent efforts was the little-seen film of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. The indie drama The Girl in the Park finally went straight to DVD, while 2009 saw three new Shapiro-scored comedies achieve varying degrees of success -- the surprisingly good I Love You, Man (with a fairly minimal amount of score), the underrated Year One, and the poorly reviewed Did You Hear About the Morgans?


Parts One and Two of this series, featuring the composers listed below, can be accessed on the website.

21. Marco Beltrami
22. Brian Tyler
23. Trevor Rabin
24. Mychael Danna
25. A.R. Rahman
26. John Ottman
27. John Debney
28. Christopher Young
29. Dario Marianelli
30. Tyler Bates
31. Jon Brion
32. Alan Menken 
33. Elliot Goldenthal 
34. David Arnold 
35. Ramin Djawadi 
36. Craig Armstrong 
37. Patrick Doyle 
38. Rachel Portman 
39. Graeme Revell 
40. Randy Edelman   


NEXT WEEK: For the first time ever, this series will be presented in 3D! (Okay, not really)

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100112/film_nm/us_union

In Bid To Unionize
Hollywood Composers
After 28 years without a union, film and television composers are attempting to unionize again.

The new union would be designated the Association of Media Composers and Lyricists and would be the first group of its kind since the Composers and Lyricists Guild of America, which dissolved in 1982 after a punishing seven-year legal battle with the major studios. (A subsequent attempt to create a new union in 1984, with the assistance of the Writers Guild of America, was derailed by the National Labor Relations Board, which denied the Society of Composers and Lyricists guild status.)

The attempt to organize is being led by record producer/composer Alan Elliott ("Cop Rock," "Celebrity Deathmatch"); Bruce Broughton, a former Society of Composers and Lyricists president; James Di Pasquale, who helped form the SCL in 1983; and Alf Clausen, the veteran composer of "The Simpsons." The timing in many ways couldn't be better because conditions for film and television composers have never been worse and fees have dropped radically from their levels a few years ago.

"Thirty years ago, the average television all-in fee was $35,000 -- for an hour of television," Elliott says. "That would include the money that would go to the studio, the contractor, the musicians, the orchestrators, the copyists, the players. With inflation from 1979 to 2010, that should be $104,000, but most network television shows now are around $14,000 all-in, which means that the total number has fallen to about 13% of what it was."

Interesting to see Shore fall out of the top 10 this year. LOTR didn't seem to lead on to other blockbuster work... or perhaps he turned them down?

Interesting to see Shore fall out of the top 10 this year. LOTR didn't seem to lead on to other blockbuster work... or perhaps he turned them down?

It's not so much that Shore dropped (though I suspect he isn't necessarily eager to jump back into blockbusters unless the project is just right) but that some others like Desplat, Giacchino and Powell are having such incredible streaks right now that someone has to fall back, just in comparison.

I know how gratifying it is to spend hours writing something and then have someone come along and pick a tiny flaw, so please allow me.

[Randy Newman] "This year's new Disney animated feature, The Princess and the Frog, is the first time he has written both the song score and the incidental music for the same film"

What about James and the Giant Peach?

Add to that (see silvestri):

"the team may return to live action with a film version of Jonathan Franzen's acclaimed novel The Corrections."

The correction is not a confirmed project but one that zemeckis has shelved and its not likely that he will return to it soon. The next confirmed project for zemeckis is a performance capture remake of the beatles movie yellow submarine. It remains to be seen if silvestri will have a major role in this one other than arranging beatles songs. And there is strong word that a who framed roger rabbit sequel will follow after this one which will likely be performance capture as well.

You have also forgotten to mention that he contributed a song to hannah montana: the movie, directed by peter chelsom with whom he worked before.

Which brings me to another question:

How do you determine the spots on this list? For instance, silvestri had arguably one of the most successful years in recent time in 2009 and even made the top ten of biggest box office composers of the decade, yet he is not even in the top ten of that list! What must a composer achieve to make the top ten?

I know how gratifying it is to spend hours writing something and then have someone come along and pick a tiny flaw, so please allow me.

[Randy Newman] "This year's new Disney animated feature, The Princess and the Frog, is the first time he has written both the song score and the incidental music for the same film"

What about James and the Giant Peach?


You got me there. And his Peach score was even Oscar-nominated, so I was doubly lame.



How do you determine the spots on this list? For instance, silvestri had arguably one of the most successful years in recent time in 2009 and even made the top ten of biggest box office composers of the decade, yet he is not even in the top ten of that list! What must a composer achieve to make the top ten?


it's entirely subjective, of course, but Silvestri is a little lower partly because he seems to be working with only a handful of directors these days (Sommers, Zemeckis). He did have a good year, but he's had better ones (I think there were four films in the 99-00 period that grossed around 200 mil), and it's hard to compare to the hit streaks of people like Giacchino and Powell (not to mention the latest blockbusters from Horner and Zimmer).

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