×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Freshman dramas opt for full scores

Road to the Emmys 2012: Creative Arts - Music

Among the crucial decisions in the weeks leading up to the debut of a drama series are those dealing with music: Choosing a composer and deciding on the musical style that fits best.

This season’s freshmen entries included three shows for which a dramatic underscore seemed more appropriate than the songs that now dominate many primetime shows: ABC’s fairytale drama “Once Upon a Time,” NBC’s stewardess saga “Pan Am” and ABC’s conspiracy-driven serial “Revenge.” All used live musicians.

“Once Upon a Time” is set in dual time frames: the Enchanted Forest world of Snow White, Prince Charming and Rumpelstiltskin, and the same characters in modern-day Storybrooke, Maine. The music needed “an epic quality,” says composer Mark Isham (a past Emmy winner for “Chicago Hope”).

So ABC agreed, from the start, to budget for an orchestra of 24 to 43 players every week, augmented by the sampled percussion and other sounds Isham would create in his home studio.

“Music is the emotional thread of the story,” says Isham, who wrote new themes for each character: harp for Jiminy Cricket, chimes for Cinderella, a warm love theme for Snow and Charming, darker sonorities for the Evil Queen and Rumpelstiltskin, and charming Renaissance-style music for the ancient land.

Pan Am,” too, was “designed as an orchestral show,” says composer Blake Neely (“The Mentalist”). It began when the editor started temp-tracking the pilot with Neely’s Americana music for “The Pacific” and “Jack & Bobby” and found that style effective for the 1960s stewardess drama.

Neely has fought for, and gotten, real musicians on past shows “Brothers & Sisters,” “Everwood” and others. On “Pan Am,” set in the 1960s, he averaged writing 25 to 35 minutes of music per episode and generally got just four to five days to compose.

He used 40 players on the pilot. “We’re supplying emotion,” says Neely. “Synthesizers cannot do that. They’re flat. I play all of my piano parts, with the emotion that I want to convey.”

For Izler, the Czech-born composer of “Revenge,” the challenge came from pilot director Phillip Noyce: a demand that he write “the mother of all melodies” — overnight. “He wanted something that felt like the entire show encapsulated in one melody,” Izler says.

“Everything in the show has evolved from that — the drama, the emotion. What really inspired it was the opening of the pilot. The Fire & Ice ball, somebody gets murdered on the beach, Emily has a very Grace Kelly moment. That immediately lent itself to this slightly old-fashioned string score.”

Izler conducted a string section averaging 22 to 30 players each week, although for the season finale he managed a 50-piece orchestra with brass, woodwinds and percussion too. “It was so liberating to be able to use other colors and give it an extra kick,” he says.

Road to the Emmys 2012: Creative Arts
TV f/x artists doing much more with less | Freshman dramas opt for full scores | Technical direction contenders thrive on adrenaline | TV lensers use color to orient viewers | Costumes help thesps create characters | Design Emmy contenders conjure bygone eras | Emmy limits “Smash” song entries
>

More TV

  • Dwyane Wade Sets Multi-Year Development Deal

    Dwyane Wade Sets Multi-Year Development Deal at WarnerMedia

    Dwayne Wade is bouncing his way into WarnerMedia’s court. The retired NBA All Star has signed a multi-faceted, multi-year deal with the company, including a development deal via his 59th & Prairie Entertainment production banner. Part of the deal sees Wade sign on as a commentator at Turner Sports. He is set to make appearances [...]

  • Katie Couric Sheryl Sandberg

    Katie Couric Steamrolls Sheryl Sandberg in Roving Vanity Fair Summit Interview

    Sending a jolt through a luxurious and excessively polite afternoon in Beverly Hills, veteran journalist Katie Couric delivered a relentless series of hardball questions to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday. Speaking in conversation at the sixth annual Vanity Fair New Establishment summit at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Couric’s [...]

  • EVIL is a psychological mystery that

    CBS Renews 'Evil,' Orders Full Seasons of Four Other Freshman Shows

    CBS is doubling down on all its new shows. The network has renewed “Evil” for a second season, and handed out full-season orders to its other four freshman series, namely “All Rise,” “Carol’s Second Act,” “The Unicorn,” and “Bob Hearts Abishola.” “Evil” is set to conclude its 13-episode first season (creators Michelle and Robert King [...]

  • Jamie Lee Curtis

    Jamie Lee Curtis to Produce Military Drama With Put Pilot Order at Fox

    Jamie Lee Curtis is teaming up with April Fitzsimmons and Berlanti Productions for a drama project that has received a put pilot order at Fox. Titled “Chain of Command,” the one-hour project follows a young Air Force investigator with radical crime-solving methodology who returns to her hometown to join a military task force that doesn’t [...]

  • Michael MannLACMA: Art and Film Gala,

    TV News Roundup: Michael Mann to Direct and Executive Produce HBO Max's 'Tokyo Vice'

    In today’s TV news roundup, HBO Max names MIchael Mann as a director and executive producer of “Tokyo Vice” and Chip and Joanna Gaines announce the first original series coming to the couple’s Magnolia Network. DATES Netflix announced a six-episode docuseries centered on Nasty Cherry, the latest all-female group signed to Charli XCX’s label will [...]

  • Johnny Galecki House Burns Down

    'Big Bang Theory' Duo to Develop eSports Comedy at NBC

    A former “Big Bang Theory” star and one of the show’s writers are developing a multi-camera comedy about eSports at NBC, Variety has learned. Titled “The Squad,” the project hails from executive producer Johnny Galecki and writer and executive producer Anthony Del Broccolo, who was previously a writer and co-executive producer on “Big Bang Theory.” The [...]

  • John Clarke dead Days of Our

    'Days of Our Lives' Star John Clarke Dies at 88

    John Clarke, best known for portraying Mickey Horton on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” died due to complications of pneumonia in Laguna Beach, Calif. on Oct. 16. He was 88. Clarke suffered a stroke in 2007 and had been in a state of deteriorating health over the past few years. His daughter, Melinda, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content