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July 2, 2004
Small Screen Scores in Big Concert
Hollywood Bowl salutes television music, celebrates Earle Hagen's 85th
by Jon Burlingame
Earle Hagen with Emmy
Earle Hagen receives an Emmy for the
"Laya" episode of I Spy
Earle Hagen turns 85 next Friday, July 9. And what better way to celebrate this television-music pioneer than with a big party at the Hollywood Bowl? On that day, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will sponsor its second "Television Night at the Bowl," a fund-raiser for the Academy Foundation and its archive, which videotapes interviews with TV pioneers for historical and educational purposes.

Hagen will be honored with a segment during the concert that includes a snippet of his interview, accompanied by his most famous theme, The Andy Griffith Show (1960) – which Hagen himself whistled – and a new 10-minute arrangement of nine of his other classic themes: Make Room for Daddy (1953, an adaptation of "Londonderry Air" by Hagen and Herbert Spencer); The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961); Gomer Pyle USMC (1964); That Girl (1966); Mayberry RFD (1968); The Guns of Will Sonnett (1967, by Hagen and Hugo Friedhofer); Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (1984, Hagen's jazz standard "Harlem Nocturne"); The Mod Squad (1968); and I Spy (1965).

Joseph Curiale, longtime arranger for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, has fashioned the arrangement which remains true to Hagen's original musical concepts while expanding the orchestration to accomodate the 94-piece Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. John Mauceri, musical director of the Bowl ensemble, will conduct the piece.

Curiale said in an interview that he was thrilled to write this arrangement to honor one of his favorite composers. He insisted upon co-crediting Hagen with the orchestrations because so much of the final product was based on Hagen's original versions. And he included the obscure western Will Sonnett because, he learned during a meeting with Hagen, it's one of the composer's favorites.

A convincing argument can be made for Hagen's place as the most important composer in the history of the medium. A veteran of the big-band era who played trombone and arranged for Tommy Dorsey and Ray Noble, he spent several years working for Alfred Newman at 20th Century-Fox before moving into television in 1953 with his partner, Herbert Spencer. (Spencer, after his split from Hagen in 1960, later became best known as John Williams' orchestrator.)

Certainly his run of memorable themes in the '60s, especially for such long-running hits as Griffith and Van Dyke, places him in the pantheon of the greats. His record of scoring an estimated 3,000 hours of prime-time television stood unchallenged for many years (until the hit-making team of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter and Post's continuing prominence today).

Hagen's remarkable work on I Spy, which not only gave him three consecutive Emmy nominations but also the coveted statue in 1968, demonstrated that he could write compelling dramatic music on a weekly basis and became a showplace for fascinating ethnic music traditions, which he researched on location around the world. Plus, he hired the Oscar-winning composer Hugo Friedhofer, who wound up contributing about a third of the scores for this underrated and now all-but-forgotten spy series.

I Spy star Robert Culp will be on hand to salute Hagen for his contributions to television.

In addition to his obvious talents as a composer, Hagen was also a first-rate businessman. He not only managed to keep the copyrights of many of his themes — something that few composers in TV have ever done — he also created the "package" deal, as outlined in his recent autobiography, Memoirs of a Famous Composer... Nobody Ever Heard Of (Xlibris, 2000). For a single fee per episode, his company covered all costs associated with scoring, from orchestra costs to copying and cartage. That practice has now become commonplace in television. Hagen retired after scoring the Griffith Show TV-reunion movie Return to Mayberry in 1986. He launched and taught the BMI film-scoring workshop for many years and is now happily pursuing his golf game in Rancho Mirage, California.

The Hagen tribute will be a highlight of the first half of the concert. Curiale has also written a new "Western Medley" that will include several of TV's most famous Western themes: Bonanza (Jay Livingston & Ray Evans), Gunsmoke (Rex Koury), Wagon Train (Jerome Moross), Cheyenne (William Lava), Maverick (David Buttolph), F Troop (Lava), The Virginian (Percy Faith), Little House on the Prairie (David Rose), The Wild Wild West (Richard Markowitz) and The Big Valley (George Duning).

Bruce Broughton has written and will conduct a four-and-a-half minute concert version of his theme for JAG; and Stu Phillips has penned a new four-minute arrangement of his classic Battlestar Galactica theme (co-written with Glen Larson), which will be accompanied by fireworks. Mauceri will also conduct Jerry Goldsmith's eleven-minute TV medley, which includes The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Dr. Kildare, Room 222, Star Trek: Voyager, The Waltons and Barnaby Jones. For the first time, however, the medley will be accompanied by film clips from all six shows.

Also on the program: David Schwartz's theme for Deadwood; a tribute to Mister Rogers and Captain Kangaroo; Danny Elfman's theme for The Simpsons; a concert version of W.G. Snuffy Walden's Emmy-winning theme for The West Wing (first heard in the 2001 TV Night at the Bowl); and a sing-along of classic TV tunes that will feature composer Vic Mizzy performing his own themes for the '60s sitcoms The Addams Family and Green Acres.

© 2004 Jon Burlingame

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