Friday, February 20, 2009
Michael Giacchino, one of the nicest guys in town, was put into a very difficult position.
Mr. Giacchino was offered the glamour gig of Oscar conductor/composer, a job that veteran Bill Conti had ably served for 21 years. How could Mr. Giacchino turn the job down and what could possibly go wrong?
Well, as veteran musicians of live television would tell you, a lot.
The producers of the Oscar show, in their quest to make the show more au courant, didn't realize that Mr. Giacchino, while the busiest and hottest scorer in the business, is what is known as "a hummer" (that is, Mr. Giacchino has no formal musical training, he "hums" the music, or in contemporary terms, uses computers to take the dictation).
This is not to say that many in Hollywood come from outside of formal musical training background. For instance Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer are some of the more famous contemporary "hummers" who have put their own stamp on orchestral scores over the years without ever conducting (they both hire professional arrangers and conductors to make sure their music is able to be presented to the orchestra and of course conducted).
But back to the Oscars, 2009. Mr. Giacchino and his agents Sam Schwartz and Michael Gorfaine (who has been responsible for John Williams, amongst others), saw a great opportunity to "legitimize" Mr. Giacchino as more than just a "hummer" and with the way Oscar telecasts have been done in the past, they all figured that if it was business as usual, this would all work out.
However, the producers were looking for a bigger spotlight and decided to place the orchestra and the conductor on stage to perform live.
Yesterday's rehearsal with the orchestra was not good. The orchestra was polite (they all have a lot of money riding on the continuing charade of Mr. Giacchino's orchestral output), but afterwards were discussing the possibility that Mr. Giacchino's conductor Tim Simonec would be needed to come in to add some "professional" help.
When Mr. Giacchino took the job the hope had been that most of the music would be pre-recorded and Mr. Giacchino would get a nod from the host like Mr. Conti had gotten and no one in the audience would be the wiser.
However, when there are five nominees and the conductor has to know the tempos and time signatures for all five themes and do it live, then a degree of competence is required. Especially in front of a billion or whatever people.
I guess what is amazing is that this is the first time this has come up.
Up until now, professionals have manned the ship. However, as Hollywood has continued to wink and nod at the amateurs disguised as professionals, the day of revealing the emperor's new tux may have finally come.
That day is Sunday.
Posted by Movie Music for Dummies at 12:32 PM