May 22, 2008
Christopher Young Receives Top BMI Award
Past FMS President acknowledged for generosity of spirit by Jon Burlingame
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—Christopher Young received the Richard Kirk Award for career achievement at the annual film and TV music awards dinner of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) Wednesday, May 21, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Young, the Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated composer whose music graced last year's biggest-grossing movie, Spider-Man 3, was honored not only for his contributions to film music but for his role as an educator and mentor to aspiring younger composers.
Young referred to receiving the Richard Kirk Award as "the brightest moment of my life." He recalled "finagling a ticket 27 years ago" to the BMI dinner, sitting far in the back and imagining one day being onstage to accept such an accolade. He said he was "truly blessed" to be able to do what he does for a living. Past recipients of the award have included John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Danny Elfman.
BMI President and CEO Del Bryant cited several of Young's major credits in his rise to A-list status, including such prestige dramas as The Hurricane and The Shipping News; thrillers like Entrapment and Jennifer 8; jazzy entries like Norma Jean and Marilyn; such horror classics as Hellraiser; and Young's first film, The Dorm That Dripped Blood (whose title elicited good-natured laughter from the audience).
Bryant also praised "his consistent and good-hearted mentoring of the next generation of film composers" as demonstrated by his decade of teaching in the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Program at USC, and his "extraordinary generosity of spirit" as indicated by his five-year stint as president of The Film Music Society.
"If music is an act of communication, then Chris is an absolutely sensational communicator," said director Jon Amiel (Entrapment, The Core), who presented him with the award. "He doesn't waffle, prevaricate or flim-flam. He is tireless and relentless," he said, calling the filmmakers who have worked with Young "the beneficiaries of his enormous energy and his enormous generosity."
Amiel brought the house down with a spot-on impression of Young demonstrating themes for Copycat – the first of their four collaborations – at his Culver City studio.
Amiel was one of five filmmakers who contributed comments to a tribute video. Director Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys) called Young "a tormented genius" and, about his music, "he plays the emotions but he doesn't push it." Actress-producer Charlize Theron (Sleepwalking) expressed amazement that Young would work as hard on her small independent film as he did on a $200-million studio blockbuster. "He has a heart," she said.
Director Clive Barker (Hellraiser) praised Young's "classy horror-movie music" and pointed out that "he is himself, and so many other people are not." Addressing Young, director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man 3) added: "I've seen your artistry bring my films to life."
Sundance Composers Lab director Peter Golub received BMI's Classic Contribution Award. Doreen Ringer-Ross, vice president of film/TV relations, said he had "done an amazing job running the lab over the past 10 years." BMI is a founding sponsor of the annual event, in which six composers get to work with young directors in a hands-on exploration of the role of music in film.
She called Golub "a gifted, eclectic composer" and noted his own credits include The Laramie Project, Wordplay and last year's The Great Debaters. She praised his efforts to create a "supportive, collaborative atmosphere" during the yearly workshop. In a taped tribute, Sundance founder Robert Redford said "we're more than proud" of the lab and thanked Golub for his work.
Four dozen additional awards were handed out during the three-hour ceremony, including recogition to the composers whose music accompanied the year's most popular TV shows on broadcast and cable, and the biggest box-office grossers of the past year. Bryant noted that 75 percent of all prime-time network series feature BMI-represented music.
Among the composers present to accept were Harry Gregson-Williams (Shrek the Third), Steve Jablonsky (Transformers), Trevor Rabin (National Treasure: Book of Secrets), Christopher Lennertz (Alvin and the Chipmunks), Lalo Schifrin (Rush Hour 3), John Ottman (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer), Randy Edelman (27 Dresses), Mychael Danna (Surf's Up), Tyler Bates (Halloween) and Aaron Zigman (Why Did I Get Married?).
Television composer Mike Post (who picked up two awards for the Law & Order series) was also recognized for his 19-year participation in BMI's Pete Carpenter Fellowship, which provides a financial stipend while the winner interns with the composer. Carpenter was Post's partner on such classic shows as The Rockford Files, The A-Team and Magnum, P.I.
©2008 Jon Burlingame