EXTRA! EXTRA! TV Academy Considers Dropping The Theme Song Emmy Prize: Connections (#16)

I’ll be brief.  It started with the category of TV Theme Music being shut out of the prime-time telecast.  Now the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is considering eliminating this category all together.  What a shame!

Once-upon-a-time, there were the effervescent Latin pop of “I love Lucy,” the dark march of the “Dragnet” theme, the hopeful soft-rock of the theme to “The  Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Remember the reign of Mike Post, whose vast catalogue of themes included “The Rockford Files” and “Hill Street Blues.”?

Now some theme music amounts to pieces too short to nominate, like giving out an acting award for best “sigh” or a screenwriting prize on the basis of a well-chosen adjective.

Indeed, host Neil Patrick Harris joked about this very thing on last year’s Emmys broadcast, comparing the rustling cord that introduces “Lost” — the Ad Reinhartd “Black Painting” of TV openings — to that of “Gilligan’s Island”:  The last time there were people on a desert island, there was a song about it and, dagnabbit, it was awesome.”

Nevertheless, TV Theme Music — old-style, original singable themes are still standard in “tween” television, which at the moment is dominated by actors who have  secondary, or in some cases primary, singing careers: Miley Cyrus of “Hannah Montana” (theme song: “The best of Both Worlds” top 20 in Ireland) is only the most successful example). Copyright © 2010 Los Angeles Times

So, the verdict is still out.  Is the pace of television so fast as not to have the time for theme music? And what about the end credits?  They’ve been reduced in size and move so fast they’re illegible. You be the judge.

Earlier this year Nathan Scott died at 94, film and TV composer, arranger and conductor.  He was the arranger for composer  Walter Schumann, who wrote the famous DUM-DE-DUM-DUM theme for Jack Webb’s popular police show “Dragnet.”  The theme for “Dragnet” cracked Billboard’s Top 10 at number 3 in 1953.

In 1969 I filmed the “This is the City” mini-documentaries that proceeded each episode and were accompanied by this same theme music.  Who can forget DUM-DE-DUM-DUM: “Dragnet’s” theme song.

Sgt. Dan Cook, whose badge was 714, and became the title of the “Dragnet” re-runs in syndication, was the LAPD’s Public Information Officer.  I met him while  directing the TV documentary “Police Unit 2A-27,” for KNBC and its O&O Division.  Sgt. Cooke  showed the documentary to Jack Webb, who invited my associate Noel Nosseck and me  to a screening of our TV documentary, “Police Unit 2A-26” at Universal Studios.  I’ll never forget that day in the screening room when Jack Webb showed the documentary to the Universal Executives, including Sid Sheinberg and Frank Price, and at the conclusion of the screening asked, “How come these two kids made a better show for $3,500 than I was able to do at Universal for $100,000? The silence was deafening. In a nutshell, that’s how I ended up filming the mini-documentary openings for “Dragnet -69,” and later on with the help of this introduction, I signed a seven-year term contract as a Producer, Writer, Director with Universal City Studios — now NBC Universal.


One thought on “EXTRA! EXTRA! TV Academy Considers Dropping The Theme Song Emmy Prize: Connections (#16)

  1. It’s a shame that TV themes have gone from 60 seconds to 30, to 15, and now you’re lucky if they’re 5 or 10 seconds long.It all part of the devaluation of music in the the TV business in general. Instead of music for a show being an “important” character in the show, it’s been demoted to “a background noise or groove that helps move the story along”.And instead of music coming in to support an emotional or dramatic moment in a scene, it’s become wall-to-wall “wallpaper”. So many producers out there “just don’t get it”.Let’s hope this trend goes full circle. Imagine “Law And Order” or “CSI” without their themes!

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