The Film Music Society FMS FEATURE...

April 14, 2006
Isham, Rosenthal Honored by ASCAP
1,000 Attend Annual Film/TV Awards by Jon Burlingame

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Composers Mark Isham and Laurence Rosenthal received lifetime achievement awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) at its 21st annual Film & Television Music Awards Tuesday night, April 11, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Approximately 1,000 members of the film-music community attended the black-tie affair, which also included the announcement of dozens of other awards for popular and distinguished work in music for films and TV over the past year.

Mark Isham

ASCAP president Marilyn Bergman and honoree
Mark Isham

Isham, the jazz trumpeter and veteran composer of such films as A River Runs Through It, Blade, Rules of Engagement and the Oscar-winning Crash, received ASCAP's highest honor, the Henry Mancini Award "in recognition of his outstanding achievements and contributions to the music of film and television."

Director Frank Marshall, who recently worked with Isham on the Disney film Eight Below, praised his "versatility and tenaciousness" and said that his music "elevated the movie.... He added colors and rhythms and different instruments that gave it a really unique feel."

Crash director Paul Haggis, whose other Isham collaborations included TV's EZ Streets and Family Law, said that the composer "always serves the story first." Also adding words of praise was actress Anne Archer, who has been in such Isham films as Rules of Engagement and Short Cuts and who said that Isham's music "penetrated my soul." Jazz artist Chick Corea also sent a congratulatory message via video.

Isham thanked a number of individuals who had helped him professionally and personally – including director Carroll Ballard, who first hired him to score 1983's Never Cry Wolf, and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard – and noted that "I'm just hitting my stride. My best work is ahead of me."

Laurence Rosenthal

Bergman and honoree Laurence Rosenthal

Rosenthal, composer of such classic scores as The Miracle Worker and Becket, received the ASCAP Foundation's Life in Music Award "for his outstanding accomplishments as a composer in the field of film and television music." The two-time Oscar nominee and seven-time Emmy winner was praised in a message from John Williams as "one of the greatest composers of his generation."

ASCAP board member Bruce Broughton said of Rosenthal: "I have an enormous admiration for him. He's one of my heroes."

Director William A. Graham, whose 10 collaborations with Rosenthal include the miniseries Mussolini: The Untold Story and the TV-movie Billy the Kid, said "the contribution that Larry made to every one of them was unimaginable. His gentle and sensitive nature made it easy to work with him. He always gives you an incredible sense of place and period."

Director Irvin Kershner was especially droll, regaling the crowd with the ups and downs of directing The Return of a Man Called Horse, which Rosenthal scored in 1976.

After "a horrible year" shooting the film, he said he thought his career was over and fell to his knees before the composer, begging for "a miracle" and hoping that he would write "so much music, so loud, that they won't even look at the picture." He called Rosenthal "a real magician" whose authentic Indian sounds and Americana style saved the movie.

Rosenthal shared several amusing anecdotes about his career, including one in which a studio executive emerged from a screening of A Raisin in the Sun, approached him and announced, "the main title stinks – get rid of it!" Orchestrator Arthur Morton came to his rescue by suggesting "a powerful chord" to indicate that "you are about to witness an important and significant motion picture." They rewrote the main title to "segue gracefully into my nice bluesy theme, and we never heard again from the front office."

On the TV-movie The Man Who Captured Eichmann, Rosenthal recalled conceiving a Germanic march to be played quietly, with echo, behind a scene of Robert Duvall as the infamous Nazi fugitive – and director Graham's cutting response: "Larry, I think you're trying to do Bobby's work for him, and he doesn't need your help." The incident reminded Rosenthal of "a great axiom: Never fall in love with your material."

Among composers on hand to receive film awards at the dinner were Klaus Badelt and Brian Tyler (for Constantine), Lyle Workman (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Ramin Djawadi (Batman Begins). On the TV side, honorees present to accept included Mark Snow (Smallville, Ghost Whisperer, One Tree Hill), Michael Giacchino (Lost), Grant Geissman (Two and a Half Men), Sean Callery (Medium, 24), Jeff Cardoni (CSI: Miami), Johnny Klimek (Without a Trace), John Keane (CSI), Russ Landau and David Vanacore (Survivor), Michael Levine (Cold Case), Rick Marotta (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Atli Orvarsson (Law & Order).

Attendees received a CD of Isham's most recent score, Eight Below; and a copy of a special tribute edition of the Society's Cue Sheet devoted to Rosenthal's life and career.

©2006 Jon Burlingame