May 21, 2004
BMI Honors Mothersbaugh
Career Achievement Award goes to Devo founder-turned-film composer
by Jon Burlingame
Mothersbaugh, co-founder of the influential avant-garde rock band Devo, has spent the past 18 years creating music for film and television, including the popular theme songs for children's shows Pee-wee's Playhouse and Rugrats as well as scores for such diverse films as Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and Thirteen (2003).
Approximately 750 composers, publishers and music executives attended the black-tie event at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, including TV-music pioneer Earle Hagen, Disney songwriter Richard Sherman and Henry Mancini Institute artistic director Patrick Williams.
Mothersbaugh, who is currently working on music for Wes Anderson's next film The Life Aquatic, was typically self-deprecating during his brief acceptance speech. "They think they want what I do," he said, referring to filmmakers who hire him for original music.
Directors Anderson (who has hired Mothersbaugh on four projects) and Catherine Hardwicke (who has used him on two) sent video greetings. Anderson cited the "futuristic, robotic and terrifying" videos of Devo as "funny and original," and pointed out that Mothersbaugh is "not just a composer, he's a conceptual artist.... His wistfulness is just the right chemistry for my movies."
Hardwicke said she thought that the composer was intrigued when, for a crucial early drug-use scene in Thirteen, she asked him "to create the sound of brain cells popping." Animation magnates Gabor Csupo and Arlene Klasky supplied a funny video of the Rugrats babies talking about "Mr. Mothersbaugh."
BMI President and CEO Frances Preston and Vice President of Film/TV Relations Doreen Ringer Ross gave out more than 100 other awards to composers whose music adorned the past year's top movies and TV shows. Preston will retire later this year from the top post.
Among the multiple winners were TV-music legend Mike Post, who received three for his music for the Law & Order franchise; Don Davis, who picked up two for The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions; David Newman for last year's high-grossing comedies Daddy Day Care and The Cat in the Hat; Theodore Shapiro for Along Came Polly and Starsky & Hutch; Rolfe Kent for Freaky Friday and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde; and Teddy Castellucci for the Adam Sandler comedies Anger Management and 50 First Dates.
Other well-known writers who received awards were Thomas Newman for Finding Nemo; W.G. Snuffy Walden for his continuing work on The West Wing; Edward Shearmur for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle; lyricists Allee Willis and Darryl Phinnessee for their Friends and Frasier themes, respectively; Jeff Beal for the Monk theme; and legendary songwriter Mac Davis, whose work now adorns the NBC series Las Vegas.
The full list of award winners is available at http://www.bmi.com.
© 2004 Jon Burlingame