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June 30, 2014
ASCAP Tributes Wendy & Lisa at Annual Film and TV Awards
Steven Price, Bear McCreary, Dave Porter receive Composers' Choice by Jon Burlingame

Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin

Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin
(Photo by Scott Kirkland/PictureGroup)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—Composers Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman were honored with the inaugural Shirley Walker Award at last Wednesday's annual Film & Television Music Awards of the American Society of Authors, Composrs and Publishers (ASCAP) at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The award is named for the late pioneer among women composers in film and television, praised during a video tribute as "a trailblazer, a mentor and an inspirational leader [who] scored more major-studio feature films than any other American woman." Her feature films included Memoirs of an Invisible Man and the first three Final Destination films; her TV work included The Flash, Warner Bros.' animated Batman and Superman series, and Space: Above and Beyond.

The Walker award "honors those whose achievements have contributed to the diversity of film and television music," ASCAP said.

Melvoin and Coleman, often billed as Wendy & Lisa, are Grammy-winning songwriters who were part of Prince and the Revolution in the 1980s; for the past two decades they have worked behind the scenes as composers of such films as Dangerous Minds and Soul Food; and TV series including Crossing Jordan, Heroes, Carnivale, Nurse Jackie and Touch. They won an Emmy for their theme for Nurse Jackie.

See Wendy & Lisa's red carpet interview HERE.

KCRW host and music supervisor Liza Richardson, who presented the award, noted that Walker had "opened the door" for women in Hollywood but that Melvoin and Coleman had "flung that door wide open," calling them "great filmmakers" who applied music "intelligently and intuitively" to all their projects. TV producer Allan Arkush and composer Hans Zimmer sent video congratulations.

Coleman ruefully remembered a newspaper story that termed them, back in their Prince days, as "pop tarts," eventually balanced by producer Don Simpson giving them a chance to score Dangerous Minds after he rejected another composer's efforts. Melvoin said "We have never seen ourselves as female composers; we are composers," earning a big round of applause from the crowd. Turning to her longtime collaborator, Melvoin added: "You are my muse, my partner, and you still break my heart when you tickle the ivories."

Bear McCreary and Dave Porter

Bear McCreary and Dave Porter

ASCAP initiated two additional awards: the Composers' Choice Awards, voted upon by more than 500 ASCAP members. In television, Bear McCreary (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Walking Dead) and Dave Porter (Breaking Bad, The Blacklist) won, while Steven Price (Gravity) won in film. McCreary and Porter were on hand to accept; Price sent a video greeting from a London studio where he is at work on a new project.

Steven Price

Steven Price

ASCAP President Paul Williams, who just that morning had testified on Capitol Hill about the need to reform the nation's music licensing system, made it back to L.A. in time to update the approximately 700 ASCAP composers on what he said was "growing bipartisan support... for fair payment for the hard work that you do."

Dozens of ASCAP awards were handed out to composers whose music was featured in the year's biggest box-office films, highest-rated TV shows and biggest games. Among those present to accept were Heitor Pereira (Despicable Me 2), Marco Beltrami (World War Z), Joseph Trapanese (Oblivion) and Deborah Lurie (Safe Haven), for films; and Garry Schyman, for top game score (Bioshock Infinite).

Among those picking up TV awards were James Levine (American Horror Story), John Debney (Bonnie & Clyde), Mark Snow (Blue Bloods), Robert Duncan (Castle), Sean Callery (Homeland), Joey Newman (The Middle), Jeff Russo (Hostages), Gabriel Mann (Modern Family), Joseph LoDuca (Spartacus: War of the Damned), Liz Phair (Super Fun Night), Grant Geissman (Two and a Half Men), Jay Gruska (Supernatural) and David Carbonara (Vegas).

Singer-songwriter Ed Robertson brought down the house with a fun performance of his original theme for The Big Bang Theory. A string quartet played Schyman's Bioshock Infinite suite, and flutist Sara Andon saluted what would have been Henry Mancini's 90th year with a performance of "Moon River." There was also an eight-minute video, created to mark ASCAP's 100th anniversary this year, that saluted a century of film music represented by the performing rights society.

©2014 Jon Burlingame
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