Emmys Considering Dumping Main Title Theme Music Category to Create Documentary Music Category

Film Music Magazine • March 12, 2010

The Academy for Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) is circulating a ballot to voting members of the academy which proposes to delete the category “Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music” and replace it with “Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary Film”. The move is being met with significant resistance from some members of the academy.

In an email distributed to the film music community, one academy member said, “For the viewing public, the main title theme is the most memorable, recognizable piece of music on a television show. It is the piece of music that sticks in peoples heads, the rare moment when the viewer acknowledges music for it’s intrinsic value, in the absence of dialog, effects, and plot. Appropriately, the main title has been recognized with both a music and a visual award since 1988. If this change were enacted, the visual main title would still be eligible for an EMMY Award, but the main title theme would no longer be recognized. This would continue what I see as a steady erosion of music’s relevance within the television community and the public. ”


By Chris on March 12th, 2010 at 11:18 am

Why can’t they just ADD a category for documentary music? Instead of losing the Main Title Theme and replacing it. You can already submit documentary music for the News and Doc emmy’s BUT the problem is the award is for “Best Music and Sound” which means the category often isn’t just for composers. You can be an audio engineer and post team submitting in the same category as someone else who is submitting only their original score for consideration. Or you can be the whole team (composer, engineer, sound editor) and apply for consideration as a group. Again, it would be nice if there were two categories here, music being one and sound or sound mixing being the other for the News and Doc emmy’s. It is super stupid the way it is and it sounds like they want to make another dumb decision by taking the Main Title theme music award away.

By Mark Northam on March 12th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Apparently, the Academy will not allow a change to the total number of music categories, hence the proposal to dump one category in order to create a new category.

By Adrian Peek on March 12th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

That’s so silly, if it’s true. What would happen if the Academy added another music category? Would they all get arrested or something?…….oops, my bad. I forgot. It’s Hollywood. Desole’!

By calvin hogue on March 13th, 2010 at 7:44 am

There must be more awareness of this. Because this is just the foot in t he door approach and a testing ground to see if anyone is paying attention to this. I totally believe this is tied to the money bag somebody wants in.
What else would it be to fix what is not broken? Dr Cal Out!

By David Varga on March 13th, 2010 at 11:48 am

This is unacceptable. Is anything being done to stop this? The theme music is what people remember if it is good. It gives a show an identity. As someone who composes quite a bit of theme music for TV, it always amazes me how many executives (that are not ceatives) take show opens for granted. They either cut them way down or drown them in VO. I hope that people will be vocal about this and let the EMMYs know that this is ridiculous. Perhaps they should be boycotted? Is there a website or phone # to call and voice an opinion?

By David Varga on March 13th, 2010 at 11:59 am

What will happen to Main title theme songs composed for a continuing series that must enter in category 49, Main Title Theme Music. Will all songs have to be entered under Category 48 OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MUSIC AND LYRICS?
If they have to lose something, why not Category 47 OUTSTANDING MUSIC DIRECTION? Often, the composer takes on these responsibilities.

By Mark Watters on March 13th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

As one of the two Television Academy Music Peer Group Governors, I feel compelled to offer some information regarding this issue. First, no one is a bigger fan of great TV themes than I am. I grew up in an era where the theme was the identity to the show. “The Andy Griffith Show,” THe Beverly Hillbillies,” “Wild Wild West,” “Hawaii Five-O,” and “Hill Street Blues” to name just a few. The problem is, the industry has abandoned this great art. Many shows have no theme what so ever. Most are less than 15 seconds. The reason for this? Easy, as shows become more expensive to produce, more time is given up to commercials thus leaving less and less time for the show itself. The main title is shortened or eliminated in order to give time to the narrative of the episode. A sad but unavoidable reality, I’m afraid.

On the other hand, we are living in a golden age of documentaries. The budgets for these are growing and with them, the music budgets. The unique skill required to score a documentary is different from scoring other types of programming yet these shows are put in the same category as TV Movies and Mini-series and thus, they never receive the recognition they deserve. It is imperative that the Emmy remain current so creating this new category is essential. Unfortunately, simply adding a new category to the existing five is not possible. It requires the approval of the entire Board of Governors and no one, especially a peer group with five categories already, will not be given a sixth.

The proposed change would allow for Main Titles that are songs to be eligible to be entered in the Music and Lyrics category.

If you are a member of the Television Academy Music Peer Group, you will be receiving more detailed information and a ballot to submit your choice. By the way, the Music Peer Group Executive Committee voted 9 to 1 to approve this. It was later approved by the Primetime Awards Committee and finally by the Board Of Governors. Because Mark Adler, the other Music Peer Group Governor, and myself felt the entire Peer Group should make the final decision, we have requested that the Academy hold off implementing this change until after the vote. If approved, it would not become active until the 2011-2012 Emmy Awards season.

By Trevor Coleman on March 14th, 2010 at 3:43 pm

As a 3 time nominee as composer for ‘best music and sound’, the idea of a separate categorie for documentary music is long overdue and a breath of fresh up-to-date air.
The process of creating music and sound in documentaries usually have little to do with one another, and can result in (as it has been in my case) some people receiving equal credit for considerably less equal contribution.
Mark Watters enlightens the issue in his explanation of the thinking behind the change. Makes sense! Make the change!

By legal eagle on March 24th, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Let’s take the main titls for lawyer shows. At one time there ws Perry Mason and Judd fot th Defense. Now it’s Boston Legal. Main titles to which it is worth listening are a thing of the past; some shows, like CASTLE have a main title that lasts less than 5-10 seconds. Then you have the superhero show, heck out Superman, even Batman, and now Smallville. Used to be the main title was creatd by a really talented composer, not any more, maybe they license some jerky song. There wasn’t much to the Marius Cionstant main title to THE TWILIGHT ZONE but it was memorable. Most main titls today are either licensed rock songs or a few seconds of hacking. Why the emmy’s should aste heir time on awards for main titles is beyond me. Bring back Fred Steiner (Perry Mason), Jerry Goldsmith (Police Story, the Waltons), Maurice Jarre (Cimmaron), even Ennion Moricone one season for the Men from Shiloh, The Outer Limits (Frontiere), David Rose (Bonanza), Star Trek (courage), Tiomkin (Rawhide), Bernard Herrmann (Have Gun Will Travel), those were main titles, John Williams’s titles for Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, the Time Tunnel, The Ghostbreaker (one showing only), even Jerry Goldsmith’s one time opening for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Ron Frainer’s The Prisoner and Dr. Who, John Barry’s the Persuaders, Secret Agwent, Hawai 5-0, o many great oldies, no many great pieces of drek newbies. today’s titles suck big time. Why reward drek?


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