Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shows I Miss: Phil Ramone's The Score

A pantsless Brando was nowhere to be found in Phil Ramone's The Score.
I usually don't enjoy listening to musicians talk in interviews because most of the ones whom I've heard gab at length about themselves have tended to be inarticulate or boring (no wonder they're more at ease when they express themselves through their music), but film composers like Danny Elfman and Quincy Jones are an exception. They're always great interviewees, which is why another show I miss seeing on the air is The Score, an insightful interview series about both film scoring and pop song soundtracks that esteemed record producer Phil Ramone (Frank Sinatra's Duets, Michael Sembello's "Maniac" from Flashdance) hosted and produced for the now-defunct Trio cable channel in 2002.

In front of a studio audience, Ramone interviewed directors like Rob Reiner and Taylor Hackford together with composers they've frequently collaborated with (Marc Shaiman in Reiner's case, James Newton Howard in Hackford's case). The directors and composers discussed the craft of film music and played on piano a few themes from their scores. Other guests on The Score included Elfman, Lalo Schifrin, Christopher Young, Dave Grusin, the late Sydney Pollack, Matthew Sweet, Darius Rucker and singer Monica Mancini, who performed a few of her late father Henry's movie theme songs.

Not much of The Score has been archived online, other than a lengthy promo for the show on Ramone's site and a CNN transcript of Ramone talking briefly about The Score with then-CNN anchor Kate Snow. No clips of The Score have been posted on YouTube. Ovation TV currently airs reruns of a similar show about film music, the British-made 2001 documentary series Music Behind the Scenes, but The Score was a little less stuffy about its subject, and it benefited from the involvement of film/TV music historian and frequent soundtrack album liner notes writer Jon Burlingame, who wrote incredible booklets for Film Score Monthly's Man from U.N.C.L.E. score CDs.

Because The Ref is my favorite Christmas movie, The Score was also noteworthy (no pun intended) for featuring a Ref mini-reunion between Kevin Spacey, who discussed his favorite scores, and his Ref director Ted Demme, who made what ended up being one of his final public appearances on Ramone's show before his death.

The Score was basically Inside the Actors Studio for film composers, but without the pretentiousness or the creepy, funereal Angelo Badalamenti theme music. Speaking of Badalamenti, he would have been a great guest on Ramone's show because I bet he's full of colorful anecdotes about working with a guy who defines normal, David Lynch.

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