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FMS FEATURE...

May 7, 2008
ASCAP Honors Alan and Marilyn Bergman
Famed lyricists feted by Streisand, other luminaries by Jon Burlingame

(From left) Larry Gelbart, Norman Lear, Quincy Jones, ASCAP Founders Award honoree Alan Bergman, Barbra Streisand, ASCAP Founders Award honoree Marilyn Bergman, Lari White and Norman Jewison (photo by Lester Cohen/Wireimage.com courtesy of ASCAP)

(From left) Larry Gelbart, Norman Lear, Quincy Jones, ASCAP Founders Award honoree Alan Bergman, Barbra Streisand, ASCAP Founders Award honoree Marilyn Bergman, Lari White and Norman Jewison (photo by Lester Cohen/Wireimage.com courtesy of ASCAP)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—An all-star lineup, including a surprise appearance by Barbra Streisand, paid tribute to lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman before a crowd of 1,000 at the annual ASCAP Film & Television Music Awards Tuesday, May 6, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The renowned songwriting duo, who have been married for 50 years and collaborated even longer, were honored with the ASCAP Founders' Award for their half-century of contributions to the Great American Songbook. Many of their songs have become standards, including "The Way We Were," "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life," "The Windmills of Your Mind," "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," "It Might Be You," "The Summer Knows" and many more.

The Bergmans have won three Oscars, four Emmys and two Grammys. Their many composer collaborators have included Michel Legrand, Dave Grusin, Quincy Jones, Marvin Hamlisch, Henry Mancini, John Williams, Elmer Bernstein and James Newton Howard. Marilyn Bergman is president and CEO of ASCAP.

Streisand appeared near the end of the 40-minute presentation following a film clip from The Way We Were that featured her vocal of the title song, one of the Bergmans' most memorable lyrics (with music by Marvin Hamlisch). Streisand recalled that she first met the team when she was 18 years old, adding that "they have been such an integral part of my life and career. Their words move me every time I sing them. Their gifts have enriched my life and all of our lives."

Writer Larry Gelbart (currently collaborating with the Bergmans on the Broadway-bound Up Close and Musical) and producer Norman Lear (whose TV series Maude and Good Times featured their themes) began the tribute with some clever patter about lyricist partners. Gelbart shared a congratulatory message from composer John Williams, citing their "exquisite writing, infallible instincts and informed musicianship" and "their matchless contribution to the canon of American popular song."

Composer-producer Quincy Jones spoke of their collaboration on In the Heat of the Night, and his gratitude for introducing him to director Richard Brooks, who hired Jones to score In Cold Blood. He called the Bergmans "the best songwriting team to ever sit in front of a projector."

Norman Jewison, director of In the Heat of the Night, recalled the Bergmans singing their bluesy title song for Jones' old friend Ray Charles, who was to perform it in the film. After they finished, according to Jewison, Charles said to Jones, "They're brother and sister, right?" Jones replied, "No, no, they're married, they're white," to which Charles countered "No, they ain't." Noted Jewison: "It was probably the greatest compliment he could have paid them."

Jewison reminisced about hiring Michel Legrand to score The Thomas Crown Affair, recalling Legrand stayed at the Bergman home during the scoring of the film (for which the three collaborated on "The Windmills of Your Mind," winning the Bergmans their first Oscar). "They established a kind of extra marriage," Jewison quipped, leading to over a dozen subsequent collaborations between the three, including another Oscar for the songs of Yentl.

Jewison also read a note from songwriter Stephen Sondheim that suggested he had planned to write a parody of one of their famous lyrics but changed his mind after reviewing 40 of their songs and finding them so "heartfelt, direct, graceful and elegant. Give us more to hear," he wrote.

With Mike Lang at the piano, singer Siedah Garrett sang "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" (which Jones called "one of the greatest love songs ever written"), Alan Bergman performed "The Windmills of Your Mind," and Lari White sang a medley from Yentl.

Earlier in the evening, awards were presented to about three dozen composers who had written the most performed TV themes and underscore, and the music of the highest-rated series and top box-office performers among films of the past year. Among those accepting in person were Sean Callery (24), Mark Snow (Smallville), David Vanacore and Russ
Marc Shaiman can\'t stop the beat. (photo by Lester Cohen/Wireimage.com courtesy of ASCAP)

Marc Shaiman can't stop the beat. (photo by Lester Cohen/Wireimage.com courtesy of ASCAP)

Landau (Survivor), Grant Geissman (Two and a Half Men), John Keane (CSI), Jeff Cardoni (CSI: Miami), Michael Levine (Cold Case), Trevor Morris (The Tudors), Blake Neely (Brothers & Sisters), Marco Beltrami (Live Free & Die Hard) and Marc Shaiman (Hairspray). Shaiman treated the crowd to a new lyric humorously bemoaning current trends in film and TV scoring, sung to the tune of his popular Hairspray finale, "You Can't Stop the Beat" (full lyrics below, courtesy of the songwriter).

"They Just Want the Beat"
Music and lyric by Marc Shaiman
(sung to the tune of "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray)

You can't write a melody, 'cause today they just want groove.
If today a guy wrote "Laura," all the suits would disapprove.
And if Max Steiner wrote them "Tara's Theme,"
All the good notes they'd remove!

'Cause the temp scores just go round and round,
All they want is a synth and a ghosty sound.
If you write "Lara's Theme" then you won't stay 'round today,
'Cause they just want the beat!

Everytime I hear drums and drone,
It seems Hans Zimmer's given birth to yet another clone.
When you get hired for a score, it seems you're not alone today.

'Cause they just want the...
Motion of the ocean but without a theme.
And yet it seems to get a score like that, you need a team!
If Hank Mancini were around,
I think he'd cry and scream "Oy vey!"
'Cause they just want the beat!

Pretty soon they won't care if you died,
'Cause in the future I bet every score is CGI'd,
'Cause every film is just a comic or an Xbox ride today.

'Cause you can't stop the...
Prequels and the sequels that just leave me bored.
Or should I pluck a few Gustavo licks to win an award?
Bring me a bottle and a joint; I'll be at Betty Ford! Olé!
'Cause they just want the beat!
'Cause they just want the beat!
'Cause they just want the beat!


©2008 Jon Burlingame
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