Scoregate: Composer Says He Composed Music for Stargate SG-1, Denied Cue Sheet Credit

Film Music Magazine • February 11, 2010

Film and television composer Alex Wilkinson says he composed original music that has been used in 30 episodes of the hit television series “Stargate SG-1” and is being denied cue sheet credit for his music by series composer Joel Goldsmith. Goldsmith strongly denies the claim and says Wilkinson’s work on the series was orchestration only.

Current film and television music industry practices generally refer to composing as work that involves creating new musical material, including creating the melody (if any), creating principal lines played by various instruments, specifying major harmonic material, and creating timings for the music including specific changes in the tempo and time signature (meter) to synchronize the music with picture. Orchestration generally refers to creating musical elements to support the original music material from a composer. This can include expanding and enhancing harmonies and voicings, as well as distributing harmonic material, lines and motifs from the composer among sections of the orchestra in order to enhance and maximize the quality of the finished music.

“All I want is to be properly recorded as the author of the original music I wrote for Stargate SG-1,” Wilkinson told Film Music Magazine this week. “I am disappointed that Joel Goldsmith keeps insisting to the production company that I am merely an orchestrator. I have never orchestrated for Joel, in fact we’ve co-composed a number of films together going back years. I don’t know why he doesn’t want to do the right thing regarding the Stargate cues.”

Wilkinson says he was hired by Goldsmith to compose music for 10 episodes of Stargate SG-1 during 1999-2001, and that his music was re-used in at least 21 additional episodes over six seasons of the popular series. Wilkinson says he has been involved in a long-running dispute with Goldsmith since 2004 over writer’s royalties for the series. Wilkinson says he used motifs or themes from Goldsmith in 8 of the 30 cues that he composed for the series, and that he and Goldsmith should share cue sheet credit for these cues since they include music by Goldsmith. But Wilkinson insists he should receive full cue sheet credit for remaining 22 cues which he says are 100% original music he composed, and says he has work papers, computer files, and correspondence to document the original music he says he wrote.

Wilkinson says his attorney has sent Goldsmith a letter this week demanding Wilkinson be given cue sheet credit and paid his share of past royalties plus interest for the original music he says he wrote for Stargate SG-1.

Joel Goldsmith told Film Music Magazine that he was adamant that Wilkinson’s work on Stargate SG-1 was as an orchestrator only, and says he had an agreement with Wilkinson that since Wilkinson was orchestrating, he would not receive cue sheet credit. Goldsmith said that he spent many hours at Wilkinson’s house where he blocked out cues for Wilkinson and provided sketches including tempo maps, meter changes, string lines and other musical elements for cues. Responding to Wilkinson’s claim that he was 100% composer on many of the cues in question, Goldsmith said emphatically, “stating that he did 100% is frankly a lie.” Goldsmith continued, “I spent many, many hours in his studio with him blocking these cues out because our studios weren’t communicating at the time. I distinctly remember thinking to myself at the time that this was ridiculous and that by this time I could have just done these myself.”

Goldsmith said that later in the relationship he would send Wilkinson sketches from his studio, and that Wilkinson would stray from the sketches and cues had to be redone. Eventually, Goldsmith said, he had to let Wilkinson go because, “he just didn’t cut it.”

In response, Wilkinson said, “If I ‘just didn’t cut it’, why then did Joel reuse my music on at least 21 other episodes? With all the films I scored with Joel and the two television series I scored myself just prior to Stargate, I really did not need Joel’s help creating tempo maps, meter changes,  string lines, etc. Joel never came to my house to do what he claims. He did come over once about a bad mix on a cue I scored for another one of Joel’s series, uncredited yet again, but that is another story. And like Joel said, in the amount of time that he claims he spent at my house creating  tempo maps, meter changes, string lines, etc. he could have scored the eight minutes of music he gave me to score for a given episode himself.”

Wilkinson continued, “I only want what is rightfully mine with regard to writer’s royalties for my original compositions for Stargate SG-1. I am not after the production company, and hope they may step forward and at least let me show them my proof. I am going out on a limb here but if I can help others in a similar situation by standing up for myself and my original music, that would be best. I don’t want to go to court, but I will if I have to. Joel cannot produce properly dated Digital Performer files that have the cues that I composed. I am sorry that my old friend will not do the right thing.”

Wilkinson and Goldsmith have a history of working on projects together, with both composers listed on IMDB original music credits for the films “Man’s Best Friend” (1993), “Bad Blood” (1994) “Midnight Man” (1995), and “American Dragons” (1998).

According to Wilkinson, Goldsmith did not include him on the cue sheets for original music he composed the film “Man’s Best Friend”. Wilkinson says after he hired an attorney to attempt to get his name properly recorded on the cue sheets for the film, Goldsmith put WIlkinson’s name on the cue sheets and paid Wilkinson retroactive royalties for past broadcasts of the film.

Wilkinson says he discovered after the fact that his name had been removed from the official cue sheets filed with ASCAP and BMI for the film “Chameleon 3” (2000). He says Goldsmith had originally sent him accurate cue sheets with his name on them which were different than the cue sheets filed by the production company where his name was removed. Wilkinson says that after his attorney contacted Goldsmith about the claim and presented Goldsmith with copies of the original cue sheets, his name was added back to the cue sheets for “Chameleon 3.”

Goldsmith told Film Music Magazine that the production company had changed the cue sheets for “Chameleon 3” because they did not have proper certificate of authorship documentation from Wilkinson which was holding up payment by the distributor, and that once proper documentation was obtained, the cue sheets were corrected. Regarding “Man’s Best Friend,” Goldsmith said he was dealing with personal family issues at the time and should have moved more quickly to get the cue sheets corrected.

Another issue is the role of the performing rights societies in this authorship dispute. Wilkinson is a member of ASCAP and Goldsmith is affiliated with BMI, with both societies allowing disputed royalties to be placed “on hold” according to their rules and regulations for a limited time to give parties time to work out disputes. 

A BMI spokesperson told Film Music Magazine that, “BMI holds royalties on account of a dispute if the BMI writer who is being paid agrees in writing to having his/her royalties held or a complaint is filed in a lawsuit and the court issues an order that BMI must hold. Also BMI may decide that a hold is warranted depending upon the circumstances of a particular matter.”

The BMI spokesperson continued, “If the parties enter into a legal settlement we will adjust our records in accord with it or, if there was a lawsuit and a judgment was rendered and all appeals have been exhausted we will update in accord with the judgment. However we will not pay an ASCAP writer in a cross-society issue such as this even if the parties request that or settle in that way.”

The BMI spokesperson said that the organization expected any issues regarding retroactive royalties to be settled between the parties.

Comments

By Alex Wilkinson on February 11th, 2010 at 9:16 am

Thank you Mark and Film Music Magazine for posting this article. I do not know if this article will help to bring justice to my case, but at least I hope this will stimulate those in a similar situation to stand up for themselves so the new composers of the world may have a better chance of getting the music that they compose on the cue sheets. I hope the Stargate SG-1 production company will step forward and let me show them my proof. The truth is the truth and I can prove it.
Thanks again Mark!
Alex

By Jeff Greenslade on February 11th, 2010 at 10:03 am

Clearly what was missing was a crystal clear agreement about the nature of the work and the appropriate remuneration and credit and there is a lesson here to anyone entering into this kind of arrangement, both principal composers and those providing additional music and or orchestration.

That said if Alex Wilkinson seriously believed his agreement entitled him to royalties, why did he wait so long to make his claim? I would imagine he knew perfectly well the nature of the relationship he was getting into, that he wasn’t going to get on the cue sheet and with hindsight feels bitter and twisted about it. This is a business and we all make deals every day and need to live with the consequences.

By Alex Wilkinson on February 11th, 2010 at 11:54 am

Hello Jeff. I made my claim years ago. This is not the first time Goldsmith has withheld cue sheet credit from me. My claim years ago included “Stargate”, “Man’s Best Friend” and “Chameleon 3″ He did put me on the cue sheets for the films, but not the series. I’ll bet anyone can guess why. The situation is very similar for the films and the series. I composed original music for all of the above.
I am not a lawyer, but I do have some basic knowledge about copyrights. Your comment implies to me that you may not be up on music copyright laws and, not many people are so I do not blame you for your take on this situation.
Thanks for your response.
Alex

By Joel Ciulla on February 11th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Based on what I read above, It sounds like Alex Wilkinson is telling the truth. The point that Alex makes about “If I ‘just didn’t cut it’, why then did Joel reuse my music on at least 21 other episodes?” seems to be an honest response. The notion of “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine” is theft, isn’t it. There’s plenty of water in the well for everyone!
Joel Ciulla

By Alex Wilkinson on February 11th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Thank you Joel Ciulla. Nice to meet you. Joel, If I may ask. What steps might you take if you were in my current situation? I understand if you choose not to reply. And thank you again for your positive response.
Alex

By Aaryk Noctivagus on February 11th, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Hi Alex, I see you are very active in these comments so I thought to address you. I have a question. Since you say Joel Goldsmith has done similar in the past, I wonder why have you continued to work with him? Can’t really word the question any other way, but please know that I am not insinuating anything and I am neutral-thinking in this matter not wishing to accuse either party. Its just what immediately popped into my head when reading the article and your responses. If it was me, I wouldn’t work with such a person again after the first time. It is a pity that a happy outcome on this has not already been reached amicably.

I hope everything works out justly in this whole matter and, without taking sides on this particular matter, I send you my very best wishes.

Aaryk.

By Alex Wilkinson on February 11th, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Hello Aaryk. Thank you for inquiring. I had a very unusual and great relationship with Joel Goldsmith from about 1994 to 2000 or so. We composed films together etc. When I discovered the cue sheet problems, I was told they would be fixed. I had 2 series of my own to score while still doing some work for Goldsmith, when Stargate came along, I was in hopes Goldsmith would honor his commitment and continued to work for him until we parted ways.
Here we are now.
I hope that brief overview helps.
Best
Alex

By a Nun, a Mouse! on February 11th, 2010 at 10:11 pm

This is more common than you know. Younger / greener composers are intimidated into accepting, or enduring, these terms. We are afraid of not only losing our job but of being blacklisted for speaking out or litigating. We are often living hand-to-mouth and probably couldn’t litigate if we wanted to. These guys have us under their thumb and they know it.

Very busy, working, tv and films composers have no way to service all the music asked of them; Can a composer really score 5 tv shows at the same time or a replacement score in a week or two? The answer is ‘no’, not at the network or studio level.

It is common practice to work as a ghost composer for very busy composers. The honest and standard way to handle this is to receive at least 50% writers cue sheet. Unfortunately some composers take advantage of the little guy. Their egos are huge, and we should be so ‘honored’ to work for them, and on such ‘big name’ projects.

These guys are simply big spoiled jerks with huge egos. Bravo Alex on the guts to take this on. Perhaps this will inspire the rest of us to fight for what’s right.

(Alex, dude, spell check bro … it’s like quantize, but for words)

By Dan Mallender on February 12th, 2010 at 1:13 am

I wish Alex the best of luck with his case however am very disheartened to hear of yet another example of co-ercion of a composer. I’m based in the UK and composers get a raw deal from TV,Film and publishing companies who force them to accept minimum possible terms and as for cue sheets…..

By Alex Wilkinson on February 12th, 2010 at 6:39 am

Thank you a Nun, a Mouse. I appreciate your knowledge. And (I will ).
Dan, Raw deals seem to be in fashion now and it is a shame. I honestly wish you the best of luck with your endeavors.

All the best!
Alex

By Lulgje on February 12th, 2010 at 9:01 pm

It’s unfortunate when we hear about these things. It’s not enough to spend a fortune in music education, technology, physical strain to meet deadlines, but now we have to deal with fellow composers that modify Cue Sheets… Only thing that comes to mind is shame.

I had once been approached by a composer that offered me 50% cue sheet for music written by me. I wrote a couple and then I found out that the composer would not put me on the Cue Sheet but instead would send me a check every time he’d get a royalty for those specific cues.. for the rest of our lives? I told him that this doesn’t make sense logistically and why does he want to do so much work when this problem could be simply solved by putting my name on the Cue Sheet. His answer: this is the deal and I have to trust him.

Those two cues were the last two pieces of music that I wrote for him.

Coming back to Alex, I don’t believe that a composer would go to such extend and ‘damage’ a relationship with another composer if he wasn’t convinced that he’s right.

Alex, hang in there!

By Alex Wilkinson on February 12th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Thank you Lulgje. Nice to meet you. It can happen. And it does happen. And it is very hard to be strong. But it is up to us to help each other and our next generation of young, ambitious composers by trying to accept no less than what is morally acceptable. Who determines that? The non-existent composers union. Go figure.
Thank you Lulgje for your kind remarks.
Alex

By Scott on February 13th, 2010 at 3:45 pm

As a music composition major, I’ve always held Joel Goldsmith in high esteem, and have watched Stargate SG-1 since it’s beginnings over ten years ago. I will definitely be following this case. The themes of Stargate played a part in shaping the kind of material I write, so I am definitely interested in knowing who actually created it. I hope for the best, for all parties involved.

By Alex Wilkinson on February 13th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Hello Scott.
Aside from the original Stargate movie, the Themes for Stargate SG-1 were created by Joel Goldsmith, and I like them too. Being a composition major, you know that you usually would not just run themes through an entire episode. Example, If there is a battle scene combined with say, a search for something, cutting back and forth, with driving music which may last for 1 to 5 min, then it cuts to the main hero, and we play his theme, then, commercial. I was hired for the most part to score that 1 to 5 min in between themes. However, there are times when it was necessary for me to use Goldsmiths themes in the middle of that 1 to 5 min cue example, and in those cases, I have included Goldsmith as writer on the cue sheets that should be submitted. Submitted with my name on them for my original music.
Thank you for inquiring. I hope that helps.
Alex

By Alex Wilkinson on February 13th, 2010 at 8:13 pm

To finish the last couple of sentences on the comment to Scott

I have included Goldsmith as writer on the cue sheets that should be submitted. Submitted with my name included on them for my original music as well. If I could show examples on this site, maybe I could find the time to make that happen. I will inquire.
Thank you for inquiring. I hope that helps.
Alex

By Tim Rideout on February 14th, 2010 at 7:56 am

Wow; that really sucks – for both of you. It’s hard – actually, impossible – for any of us to know who’s right and who’s wrong, because we don’t have all the facts. And probably noone ever will – not even the courts, if it comes to that.

We can probably agree on one thing tho – the agreement probably wasn’t clear, and wasn’t in writing. Of course, this can be quite normal. When I work with my buddies on a project, there’s not always a clear cut contract in writing. I think as artists, we are remiss to forgo this part of the process – if for no other reason than to remember what was said.

I honestly hope you guys sort out your differences, but it doesn’t look promising (at least not from this gossip-column report). I guess that’s up for you to decide – do you want to be right, or do you want to be composing? I’m being dramatic, but I think you know what I mean. And both choices are valid and have their own consequences.

Good luck to both of you; here’s hoping for a win-win outcome.

Tim Rideout
Composer, Montreal Canada

By Alex Wilkinson on February 14th, 2010 at 10:22 am

Hello Tim.
Should the truth hold me forever unemployed? I think not. I do not fear the unspoken term ‘You will never work in this town again.’ But who knows, maybe I should.
Anyway, I will push forward.

And Tim, It is really not impossible for all to know the truth, It can be quite simple. With honesty, cooperation, Documentation and properly dated DP composing files etc., the truth can easily be determined.

Historically, when Goldsmith and Wilkinson co-compose a film together,
If one of Wilkinson’s themes was used within one of Goldsmith’s compositions, then Wilkinson shares in the CUE SHEET credits. And vice versa.
If one of Goldsmith’s themes was used within one of Wilkinson’s compositions, then Goldsmith shares in the CUE SHEET credits. In those cases, the cue sheets would read, as an example: 1M-2 composed by Goldsmith 50% / Wilkinson 50% .

I am not a lawyer but:
It is my understanding that Authorship cannot be sold. If you compose something, you are the Author. The royalty money that comes from a composition can be assigned to another party with a contract.
It is also my understanding that if a lead composer hires secondary composer to compose music for him, or her, and the secondary composer agrees is to be excluded from the cue sheets, credits etc., then it is the lead composer’s legal responsibility to have that arrangement signed by both parties in contract form.
(Again, this is my understanding. If I am mistaken on this , let me know).

In all of the movies and TV I scored for and with Joel, we never had a contract between us. And on many of the films and TV work I scored for and with Joel, Joel did do the right thing, and did put me on the cue sheets. Some of those as many as 8 years after the fact, but he still came thru.
I hope Joel will come around and do the right thing with Stargate SG-1.

For the record. I do not hold the production companies responsible for Goldsmith’s actions.
Best
Alex

By Tim Rideout on February 15th, 2010 at 8:02 am

Hi Alex,

I can definitely appreciate your comments and the precarity of the situation. It’s no fun to feel screwed over – especially for work you love doing, and when you feel that a precedent or tacit agreement has been breached.

I don’t know the specifics of your situation, and only know the agreement that you outline in this thread. I can however comment on royalties: it has nothing to do with authorship – the only thing that matters is what’s written on the cue sheets – and then how it’s registered with your royalty-tracking society (SOCAN/BMI/ASCAP). So, before that, it all comes down to the agreement beforehand, right? So, I guess you and “Joel” will have to go for a beer or five and work it out :)

No, I don’t think the Truth should or shall render you unemployed – but obviously, there are different versions of the truth and yours is not the only one, according to “Joel,” right? So, in that sense, it does seem impossible in this case to ascertain the truth of the matter – simply because both parties do not share the same reality. You can enter into the he-said-she-saids of it and you probably have and will – but sadly, all this means is that it’s your word against his. And when you start down that path – no matter the reason or who’s at fault – you’ve already lost.

Just my two cents – I sincerely hope you guys work it out and let us know how it goes. I really *do* have faith in people in general and think it’s possible – you seem very reasonable in print! :) I hope “Joel” has a chance to equally voice his position. Good luck to you both.

By Alex Wilkinson on February 15th, 2010 at 8:59 am

Thank you Tim!
Best
Alex

By Matthew Kajcienski on February 16th, 2010 at 9:09 am

The issue I would like to focus on is actually not about the dispute itself (they really should have defined their agreement before working together on this particular project), but rather another important issue I feel was sidelined a bit in the article. 


It is general practice for composers working in TV to use orchestrators mostly due to the incredibly heavy workload and tight deadlines. Many composers I work with and respect define a vast majority of the score details, instrumentation, and secondary lines before handing it off to the orchestrator. The orchestrators are often paid well for their services, but in many cases where the orchestrator has done much more than simply “enhance” or “realize” the score, they are denied a fair percentage of the writer’s share (if given a percentage at all). In these cases, the orchestrator might create musical elements to support the original material by a composer including expanding sections of music and enhancing harmonies/voicings, as well as distributing harmonic material, lines and motifs from the composer among individuals and/or sections of the orchestra or ensemble. 


The problem I have always had with the typical composer/orchestrator relationship is that the orchestrator has just as much to do with the originality and creativity of a score as the melody and harmony alone, but is often not treated as such. Coming from the concert music world myself, it would be unheard of for a concert composer to hire an orchestrator, or anyone for that matter contributing artistically to a part of the creation of a work. I have spent hours in my own concert music weighing the pros and cons of using a particular type of vibraphone mallet doubling a line with the violin section in an orchestra piece. That is just how we think and how it is done in the concert world. With that in mind, I have always been shocked when orchestrators are denied cue sheet credit when contributing to the creation or “sound” of a particular score. 



Whenever I have hired another composer to work on a TV or film project of my own, as essentially an “orchestrator”, I have always negotiated writers share splits with that composer. It is simply what I personally feel is fair and can always work out a split that both parties are extremely happy with. It is horrifying to hear how some of these film and television composers produce a score with their team of assistants knowing how much, or should I say how little of the final score they had an actual hand in. Unfortunately a good portion of the industry has become accustom to a heavily defined line between the composer and orchestrator, and has caused issues such as in this FMM article. There is so much more to music than just melody and harmony, and orchestrators must be compensated reasonably for their contribution to a particular project/score. I would like to pose the following question to you. In cases where they are two separate individuals, where do you feel the line exists between a composer and orchestrator?

I would love if you can trackback and share feedback with my site, http://www.acomposersview.com

By Alex Wilkinson on February 16th, 2010 at 9:58 am

Re: Agreements

I was hired by Goldsmith as a composer to write and produce certain cues. I was NEVER hired as an orchestrator, but I was free to use Goldsmith’s themes when appropriate, and we would properly split the composition credit on the cues that used Goldsmith’s themes. This was our agreement for all of the music I composed for Goldsmith. The cue sheets on films and TV prior to Stargate reflect that.
For Stargate SG-1 our agreement was the same as for all of the other scores we did together, but that agreement was violated.

Alex

By Titas on February 16th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

I guess, the contract between Alex and Joel will be the defining factor who is right here. Usually the nature of the business is that the composer is hired by the studio or production company, so he ‘owns’ the business. It is then he hires other people to work for him (if needed). But since the composer ‘owns’ the business to create music for the film it is up to him to set the rules of the game with the people who work for him. Unless you have a particular agreement with Joel which states that you have to compose music and you will be allowed for royalties, it can be very difficult to proof you are actually allowed… If you worked like partners in business rather than contract agreement, that would be another story. I think it is another good example of how important is to set everything in writing BEFORE you actually start working. Anyway, I hope you will solve this peacefully.

By Joel Goldsmith on February 17th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Until now, I have held my tongue thinking I would take the high road in this issue. While I personally don’t believe that this is a matter for a public forum, especially since nobody here except Alex and I know the whole story, I feel I must reply to this rather one sided debate if only to respond to the claims that are being represented here as facts.”

Firstly, on “Chameleon 3”, Alex has said I changed the cue sheets and removed his name. This is completely untrue. My music editor did the cue sheets and turned them in to the producers. The producers changed the cue sheets WITHOUT our knowledge for their own reasons. (Lack of C.O.A. from Alex which held up foreign payments) When this was brought to my attention, we had the problem fixed immediately.

Alex has also claimed I was dishonest on “Man’s Best Friend” . This is untrue as well. Alex did write on “M B F” but was never on the cue sheets. We agreed that I would pay him directly from my royalty checks Alex was fine with this deal. It is true I was remise in making payments to Alex..I Have since changed the cue sheets and paid Alex everything he had coming to him. (in fact, I overpaid him a bit.)

Stargate SG-1 is a different story entirely. To put this in perspective I did well over 2300 cues on the SG-1 series. Alex is claiming he “wrote” or “co-wrote” 30. In Fact, he didn’t “write” any. This is a matter of principle to me. Not financial.

I first hired Alex as an engineer and a music editor on a few shows and we became friends. He really wanted to be a composer so I let him write on a few projects as well as orchestrate on others. The difference being I would do a sketch for him when he simply orchestrated. Alex’s forte tended to be in more of a contemporary style. And I thought he was very talented. When I got the Stargate series and needed some help, I wanted to use Alex knowing he needed the work, and as I said before, he was my friend. But I also knew it was a little over his head. I was doing pretty legit writing for the series but I felt with some help I could walk him through it and he would catch on. Stargate strained our relationship terribly. I would block (sketch) the cues out for him, but Alex would have to go back two, sometimes three or four times on a cue. He started to become angry with me and said a couple of times that he felt he should either get more money or cue sheet credit because of all the extra work he had to do.. I said absolutely not, that it was not my fault he had to keep doing redos and that was NOT our agreement. Alex KNEW he would not be getting cue sheet credit because he was not the writer. This was discussed in front of other people.

Finally, I had to let Alex go. It just wasn’t working out. I’m sure he did his best, but we were doing pretty traditional orchestrations and it just was not where his strengths were.

No one likes to be let go. Most of us have experienced that feeling one time or another. It’s not fun, and I did feel bad not being able to use Alex anymore. But now, enough is enough. I was good to Alex. I gave him a lot of work during our relationship, and when he wrote for me I would usually give him %100 writers which is pretty unheard of in this town. I brought him onto the most mainstream projects he’s ever worked. Now, i guess because he’s still so angry and feels left behind, he’s out trying to make me look like a scum bag. No good deed goes unpunished.

By the way, if anyone wanted to take the time and look at SG-1 cue sheets, they would find many many shared cues with composers I hired during the show. Some of them started off as orchestrators like Alex and then began writing. In the case of composer Neal Acree, I even gave him screen credit.

The is the last time I will address this completely false accusation.

Joel Goldsmith

By Tim Rideout on February 17th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Thanks for the response, Joel. Not a fun situation for anyone. I must say I totally agree with the bizarreness of this story being posted in a public forum – and sent out to thousands of us in the community by Film Music Mag. Wtf?! It’s not really anyone’s business but yours and Alex’s. I hope you don’t think my participation in a public discussion about your affairs was in any way a breach of privacy; of course, it may well have been by FilmMusicMag! Anyhow, seriously good luck to you guys. It is rough to come to this between composers, peers and friends.

Hope you guys eventually come to peace, closure and cordiality.

Tim Rideout
Composer, Montreal

By Mark Northam on February 17th, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Hi Tim -

Alex Wilkinson decided to go public with his accusations against Joel Goldsmith, and we’re one of the media outlets he contacted. Alex’s lawyer has made formal legal claims against Joel regarding the authorship of the cues in question, and Joel has strongly refuted them. These legal claims are something we chose to cover as a newsworthy event.

By Alex Wilkinson on February 17th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Thank you for responding Joel. I have no need to tit for tat. But I will say this for now.
The fact is that Over 1 hour and fifty min. of my original compositions have been broadcast over television all over the world, some of them including your themes, most of them not. Regardless of whether you liked the music I composed for Stargate SG-1 or not, my music is still on the shows, and you, as the hired composer allowed it to be.
I stand by my truth, and I have a mountain of evidence to back it up.
I wish it hadn’t had to come to this.
Alex.

By Alex Wilkinson on February 18th, 2010 at 11:41 am

Regardless of how good friends Joel and I were, after I composed more than half of the music on 8 films and TV movies with Joel from 1993 to 2000, Joel knew my abilities. In this buisness, you do not get second chances. After 1 film he would either not use me to score for him again, or continue to use my scores as he did on 8 films and 30 episodes of Stargate. Go figure. I did eventually receive cue sheet credit for the films, but not for Stargate SG-1.

Regarding “Chameleon 3.” I was a phone call away from rushing over to sign the C.O.A. at any moment, and the cue sheet was not fixed immediately. It was fixed about 5 years after the film was completed. At one point during this time Joel denied even knowing who I was. We had been friends for over ten years. I have a very respectable witness who was on that phone call.

Regarding “Man’s Best Friend.” I was put on the cue sheets in 2006 for this 1993 film.

The point is, if you read this interview article and the comments from me and from Mr. Goldsmith himself, a clear pattern emerges. Mr. Goldsmith hired me to compose music for many projects spanning many years, and then time and again failed to share cue sheet credit and royalties with me, which was his legal and moral obligation. I have only gained back some of what was rightfully mine after years of hard work and legal expenses.

I think it’s pretty clear what the bottom line is here. A financial line in the sand has obviously been drawn.
I have made my comments. Thank you for all of your support and interest!
Alex

By Alex Wilkinson on February 19th, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Much to my amazement, I have been receiving phone calls and emails from people globally. I can say nothing but thank you to all of you!!
Alex

By Alex Wilkinson on February 25th, 2010 at 7:57 am

Hello FMM readers..
Goldsmith has threatened me with a libel lawsuit about my claims of authorship of over 1 hr 55 minutes of original music I composed for Stargate SG-1. I have a mountain of evidence to prove my claim. Joel states he came to my house to compose and block out all of this music. Joel hired me, as he did on so many other projects, because he did not have time to write all of the music he was contracted to write. If he had the time, he would have done the work himself. He certainly did not have time to drive to my house and work in my unfamiliar studio. That simply never happened. Unbelievable.

I am completely comfortable continuing this conversation, even under the threat of a libel suit because I know that every word I speak is the truth. I am not afraid of his lies. He is afraid of the truth, and so the threats.

So, The cat is out of the bag…

Before now, I was picking my battles with Goldsmith, one at a time, and have had success with my first two confrontations with him. I did get my name on the cue sheets for “Man’s Best Friend” and “Chameleon 3.” Now he is threatening libel suits if I continue my claims. So, I am now going to make a claim for all of my original music that has been excluded from cue sheet credit by Goldsmith. Some of these projects have “Additional music by Alex Wilkinson” at the end title roll and still no cue sheet credit. It’s on film. There’s no disputing that.

I am adding to my claims the following shows, all of which I have the same proof as I have with Stargate SG-1: Dated sequencer files, notes, DAT mixes, correspondence, etc.

30 min “Hawkeye”
12 min “Diagnosis Murder”
10 min or more “Martial Law”
25 min “ The Untouchables”
12 min “Poltergeist”
TBD “Rattled”
22 min “Monsters”

I stand for the truth and I will not let Goldsmith get away with this if I can help it.
The cat is out of the bag!

Best to all
Alex

By Alastair on March 1st, 2010 at 12:24 am

Interesting story anbd comments. sad as it is I guess the lesson is get everything in writing first, even if you are working with someone you have a long relationship with.

By Gael MacGregor on March 3rd, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I take issue with the assertion that FMM was presenting Mr. Wilkinson’s claims as “facts.” The article clearly states “Wilkinson says…; According to Wilkinson…” and “Goldsmith told [FMM]…; Goldsmith denies…” throughout. It is clear that until proof is brought into a court of law, it is a “he said/he said” situation.

The article addresses issues that almost every composer has encountered, including the valid question: When does orchestration become composition? (This goes back to the mid-1950s with Richard Rodgers’ melodies that Robert Russell Bennett orchestrated and enhanced for TV’s “Victory at Sea”)

The ghostwriting aspect of film/TV composing is something that goes on all the time, and there have been a number of disputes and/or lawsuite RE cue sheet credit/composition in recent years [including Daniel Kolton v. Universal RE Hercules/Xena cues and the Hans Zimmer/Media Ventures dispute].

As with past disputes and lawsuits of this nature, is newsworthy to the composer community.

The article states points of view from both parties, but it appears that Mr. Wilkinson has been more vocal about things — understandable, since he has presented himself as the wronged party.

To call FMM on the carpet and say that it is presenting either party’s claims as “facts” is simply erroneous.

FMM presented the two points of view. It is fodder for debate, and if it goes to litigation, will ultimately be up to the courts to decide who does and who does not hold the proof of the two conflicting “truths.”

By Les Hurdle on March 7th, 2010 at 4:28 am

Obviously time for the magazine to do the right thing and alert all of the PRO’s around the globe so cue sheets can be amended.

L

By Aaryk Noctivagus on March 10th, 2010 at 8:54 am

Thank you for your reply to my query, Alex. (And to ‘a Nun, a Mouse’ for his/her post whether in response to me or not). Sorry the thanks is a bit delayed.

Whoever is right and whoever is wrong… what a horrible mess. Personally I’d never ghostcompose music, even if it meant I remain in obscurity. Jerry Goldsmith is one of my musical heroes, and it is very sad to see the great man’s son in this sort of thing (whether innocent or guilty of the allegations). Thanks to Joel for his post also.

This is a distasteful matter… and I doubt that this talk-back is the healthiest place for it. I am trying my very best to stress my neutrality of opinion… I simply wouldn’t wish to guess who to believe, though I must say, Alex, that repetitions of what you have already said will only served to escalate matters. You may be excusably motivated, but is it really doing you any favours? This is not an attack upon you. You’ve got your complaint out in the public (and your anger), and Joel has his rebuttal of it – no reason to keep raking the ashes however comfortable you may feel doing so regardless of a libel threat.

My very best wishes to both you, Alex, and to Joel also.

By Mr Noodles on March 10th, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Perhaps someday, somewhere it will occur to some hypothetical busy, working, established composer to recommend a less-fortunate colleague for a new show rather than accepting it himself, farming out the work, and then taking credit.

As someone who’s been through a share of similar experiences to Alex, let me just say that this practice is incredibly frustrating, and is having a detrimental effect on the business of being a composer in Hollywood. I COULD NOT put my name on another composer’s work, period. The fact that this has become standard practice is shameful.

By Alex Wilkinson on March 10th, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Thank you Mr.Noodles. Nor have I EVER put my name on another composers work. Not once in any of the television series or films that I was hired as a composer for did I steal another’s cue sheet credit. I take pride in my compositions being “my compositions”. If I compose a composition with another composer then it is OUR composition.( Aside from my Wilkinson / Goldsmith shared compositions, there are very very few shared compositions in my composing history.)
Best!
Alex

By toxic avenger on April 8th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Always amazes me when a musician says “I’m not a lawyer, but…” That’s where you should stop because your legal opinion is without value.

By Jack Jackson on April 15th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

A question has been burning in the back of my mind since I first read these articles.

Considering the issues and evidence brought up by Wilkinson, I’m wondering why Goldsmith doesn’t settle this thing in private and make it go away. My guess is that a settlement would amount to the tiniest fraction of Goldsmith’s income from the years of these successful series.

Let us score the two paths of action for Goldsmith.

Settle:
Upside is it goes away in private, nobody ever knows what happened, probably at less than 100% of the claimed value, and with very low legal costs.
Downside is it costs Goldsmith some cash. No other downside I can see.

Wait it out:
Upside is it might go away on its own–at little or no cost–although Wilkinson seems quite driven to pursue this. Or Goldsmith might win in court.
Downside is huge. Court case will be completely public information so if it turns out that Goldsmith was wrong he will look very bad–articles in Daily Variety, New York Times, etc.–which could impact his career quite negatively, with Wilkinson free to blog about the details at will. If Wilkinson wins in court it will cost Goldsmith a fortune; possibility of treble damages plus legal fees for both sides and court costs. Wilkinson has the advantage financially because, unless there’s something we don’t know, it sounds like he is not sitting on a fortune. In other words, Wilkinson can afford to go bankrupt, while a loss for Goldsmith might affect his life considerably. And even if Goldsmith wins in court, court battles take a toll–emotionally, financially, timewise, etc. If Goldsmith is working on a series and Wilkinson is not, a legal battle will be harder on Goldsmith than on Wilkinson.

At this point I think that Goldsmith’s attorneys are disserving him, hoping to churn some big dollars out of their client in a protracted legal battle.

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