The Film Music Society FMS FEATURE...

July 14, 2011
Primetime Emmy Music Nominations Announced
Simpsons composer Clausen makes history with 30th nom by Jon Burlingame

Alf Clausen receives the ASCAP Golden Note Award, June 23, 2011. (photograph by PictureGroup)

Photograph by PictureGroup

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—The Simpsons composer Alf H. Clausen became the most-nominated musician in Emmy history, receiving a record 30th Emmy nomination for music when the 63rd annual Primetime Emmy nominations were announced this morning by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Clausen, who has won twice for songs he's penned for the animated Fox series (in 1997 and 1998), has been house composer for Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie since 1990. He has scored more than 450 Simpsons episodes. Twenty-three of his 30 Emmy nominations are for Simpsons scores or songs; seven others are for other TV shows, including Moonlighting.

Clausen now has one more Emmy nomination than Ian Fraser, who has 11 Emmys and another 18 nominations, all in the music direction category.

Just last month, Clausen received ASCAP's Golden Note Award as part of its salute to top film and television composers. Said ASCAP president Paul Williams: "Alf Clausen's decades of scores for The Simpsons and other TV programs and films are as endlessly inventive as the imaginations of the shows' writers and animators. It takes a lot of serious work and thought to compose, arrange and conduct such wonderfully happy music."

Clausen has been active in television since the mid-1970s, including music direction on such variety shows as Donny & Marie and The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, and original music for Alf, Moonlighting, Police Story and other dramatic and comedic series. His feature film scores include Half-Baked and Number One With a Bullet; and he has contributed orchestrations to several other films including Splash, Dragnet and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Clausen's nomination was one of many announced in five different music categories at the Emmys. The surprising news was the domination of the "music and lyrics" category by no fewer than four songs from Saturday Night Live: two co-written and sung by Justin Timberlake ("Monologue" and "3-Way," the latter with Lady Gaga), another for Michael Bolton ("Jack Sparrow") and one from the Jeff Bridges-hosted episode ("I Just Had Sex"). SNL writers Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone -- all of whom are previous winners for the infamous SNL song "Dick in a Box" -- received three more nominations; Timberlake received two more.

There were several multiple nominees in the music categories. Carter Burwell, best known for his film scores for Joel and Ethan Coen, received two for his music for the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce (one for his score, one for his theme). Rob Mathes, a previous three-time nominee, received nominations for his music direction on the Kennedy Center Honors and for his dramatic score for the HBO film Thurgood.

Family Guy music was acknowledged with three nominations: Two for original scores by regular series composers Walter Murphy and Ron Jones, and one for a song ("Christmastime Is Killing Us") by Jones, creator Seth MacFarlane and Danny Smith. Murphy and MacFarlane are previous song winners; this marks Jones' third and fourth nominations for Family Guy. Comedian Robert Klein, along with songwriting partner Robert H. Stein, received a nomination for their song for Klein's HBO special Unfair & Unbalanced.

Trevor Morris, a previous winner for his theme for The Tudors, received nominations for his theme for The Borgias and for his score for The Pillars of the Earth. First-time nominee Dan Jones received two nominations, for his theme and underscore for Any Human Heart for PBS's Masterpiece.

Composer brothers Jeff and Mychael Danna received their first nominations for their theme for Starz' Camelot; three-time Emmy winner Sean P. Callery received a nomination for his theme for The Kennedys; and first timer Mark Thomas was acknowledged for his theme for Showtime's Episodes.

In the music direction category, Mathes was joined by co-director Rob Berman for their work on the Kennedy Center Honors. Former American Idol music director Rickey Minor was nominated for his work on An Evening of Stars: Tribute to Chaka Khan. Three-time winner William Ross was nominated for the annual Oscarcast; Paul Shaffer received his third nod for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony; and previous winners David Foster and Harry Connick Jr. scored new nominations for two PBS specials, Hitman Returns: David Foster & Friends and Harry Connick Jr. In Concert on Broadway, respectively.

30 Rock composer Jeff Richmond scored his second music nomination for that series. Also in the "dramatic score" category, Garth Neustadter received his first nomination for an American Masters documentary, John Muir in the New World. And James Bond composer David Arnold shared his first Emmy nomination with Michael Price for Sherlock: A Study in Pink on PBS's Masterpiece. A complete list follows:

Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score)
  • Alf H. Clausen – The Simpsons episode "Treehouse Of Horror XXI"
  • Ron Jones – Family Guy episode "Road To The North Pole"
  • Walter Murphy – Family Guy episode "And Then There Were Fewer"
  • Garth Neustadter – American Masters episode "John Muir In The New World"
  • Jeff Richmond – 30 Rock episode "100"
Outstanding Music Composition For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special
(Original Dramatic Score)
  • David Arnold and Michael Price – Sherlock: A Study In Pink (Masterpiece)
  • Carter Burwell – Mildred Pierce, Part Five
  • Dan Jones – Any Human Heart (Masterpiece), Part 2
  • Rob Mathes – Thurgood
  • Trevor Morris – The Pillars Of The Earth episode "Anarchy"
Outstanding Music Direction
  • Harry Connick Jr. – Harry Connick Jr., In Concert On Broadway (Great Performances)
  • David Foster – Hitman Returns: David Foster and Friends (Great Performances)
  • Rob Mathes and Rob Berman – The Kennedy Center Honors
  • Rickey Minor – An Evening Of Stars: Tribute To Chaka Khan
  • William Ross – 83rd Annual Academy Awards
  • Paul Shaffer – 2011 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony
Outstanding Original Music And Lyrics
  • Katreese Barnes (music), Seth Meyers (lyrics), Justin Timberlake (lyrics) and John Mulaney (lyrics) – song "Justin Timberlake Monologue" from Saturday Night Live episode "Host: Justin Timberlake"
  • Ron Jones (music), Seth MacFarlane (music and lyrics) and Danny Smith (Lyrics) – song "Christmastime is Killing Us" from Family Guy episode "Road To The North Pole"
  • Andy Samberg (lyrics), Akiva Schaffer (lyrics), Jorma Taccone (lyrics), Justin Franks (music), and Jerrod Bettis (music) – song "I Just Had Sex" from Saturday Night Live episode "Host: Jeff Bridges"
  • Andy Samberg (lyrics), Akiva Schaffer (lyrics), Jorma Taccone (lyrics) and Mike Woods (music) – song "Jack Sparrow" from Saturday Night Live episode "Host: tina Fey"
  • Andy Samberg (music and lyrics), Akiva Schaffer (music and lyrics), Jorma Taccone (music and lyrics) and Justin Timberlake (music and lyrics) – song "3-Way (The Golden Rule" from Saturday Night Live episode "Host: Justin Timberlake"
  • Robert H. Stein (music and lyrics) and Robert Klein (music and lyrics) – song "An American Prayer - Hymn II?" from Robert Klein: Unfair & Unbalanced
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music
  • Dan Jones – Any Human Heart (Masterpiece)
  • Trevor Morris – The Borgias
  • Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna – Camelot
  • Mark Thomas – Episodes
  • Sean P. Callery – The Kennedys
  • Carter Burwell – Mildred Pierce
©2011 Jon Burlingame
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