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ASCAP Workshop, Day 2

Could this be your life?

On Wednesday night, ASCAP brought the 12 workshop participants a taste of living large with a cocktail party that made Hollywood seem like a village that could be conquered.

Hors d’oeuvres from Wolfie’s kitchen (yup, Mr. Puck) were handed out to workshop participants past and present at Rise, part of the Hollywood and Highland complex high above Hollywood Boulevard. The setting offered a terrace view of Los Angeles shrouded in distant fog, with the gleaming lights of the El Capitan just below.

You had folks like Gerard Marino, whose latest score from Playstation’s “Gods of War” has become an add-on to “Guitar Hero.” Vivek Maddala, class of 2002, most recently worked on Sci Fi Channel’s “Flash Gordon” and was now on his way to the Sundance Institute’s Film Composer’s Lab. In his spare time, he also composed a ballet score as well as six previously silent movies for TCM.

“Juno” composer Mateo Messina told a story: Over a long dinner at Seattle’s 24-hour diner 13 Coins, he and director Jason Reitman shared tales of their families and backgrounds; Messina, who Reitman knew as Matt, revealed that his given name was Mateo.

Later, when it came time for “Juno” credits, Messina felt compelled to call himself Mateo, although he’d previously been credited as Matt. However, now that “Juno” made more than $143 million at the box office, odds are he’ll be Mateo Messina for the foreseeable future.

Rob Duncan talked about working on Brett Ratner’s NBC drama pilot, the Bronx-set “Blue Blood.” He wanted his score to have a local feel, so he incorporated street drumming on upturned plastic paint buckets, even doing some drumming himself and getting legendary street drummer Larry Wright to help out.

It didn’t look like work, but the ability to hang out in a social setting with these kinds of alums is exactly what ASCAP’s senior director of music for film/TV Mike Todd had in mind.

“It’s a social craft,” he said, underscoring the need to cultivate geniality in that most tempestuous of Hollywood institutions: The industry party.

ASCAP even takes pains to craft genteel rejection letters. “We remind that that everyone was talented in this contest, and giving tips for next year’s submission,” says ASCAP’s Jennifer Harmon.

Workshop compose Patrick Murray vouched for the org’s soft touch: He said he applied five times before he got in and it was the rejection letter that helped him craft this year’s winning entry.

Despite all the proof positive of the alumni’s accomplishments, Maddala put things back in perspective by noting he had just spoken to a friend of his who said, “I got my Grammy in the same week that I qualified for low-income housing in New York.”

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