Editor's note: As hard as it is to believe, this is the first interview with Mr. Warren ever released. Nifty :-)
For those unfamiliar, can you tell us about your musical education and background?
Well...I first started studying piano when I was about 5 years old from an elderly lady that lived in a house behind the one my parents was renting in Woodstock. I would wander up there and was fascinated by what she was doing with the playing. I've been blessed with a great ear and could mimic what I was hearing and so she started to teach me formerly. It was only for the summer but it "wet my beak". When we got back to New York I bugged my parents to let me continue. My problem was I hated practicing and relied almost entirely on my ability to hear my teacher play the piece and then figure my way through it (using my limited "reading" skills to augment that when necessary). But I soon got bored and dropped the piano (to my deepest regret later when I took up composing seriously)...
I joined the choir in Junior High and suddenly developed an interest in learning to play the drums...that, I was happy to practice every second I got. By the 9th grade I'd formed a rock group...that one ended and I started another one that I was the drummer and lead singer in. It lasted 4 years. Near the end of it we got signed as a group, and I separately as a singer to a man who was later to become a woman and famous for putting out the first synthesized album called, "SWITCHED ON BACH", and that was Walter/Wendy Carlos. We didn't get any hits out of it and I ended up moving to California for College.
My first years in college I got away from music and studied business. Slowly, though, through my electives I found my way back. At this time I was in L.A. Valley College. A buddy of mine (who later became a well known TV composer in his own right, Ken Harrison) sort of "took over" the music department. I "conned" the head of the department into giving us the keys to the recording studio (we were the first school anywhere in L.A. to have one) and every Tuesday night we would hold recording sessions so we could perfect our writing/arranging in a practical atmosphere.
While at school there were two visitors teaching a one-time only class. One was in music copying (which Kenny got interested in) and one was in Music Editing (which I took to as we had our own moviola to work within the department)...Kenny and I had also begun working in the business as "take down" artists. We'd get hired by other arrangers who, in turn, had been hired to do arrangements for new artists. We also got hired by record companies. We'd go home and figure out the chords and melody (my job) and then Kenny would write up a lead sheet. Through this we ended up doing work with and for Don Costa's nephews and subsequently, I got to hang out with Don (God rest his soul) when he'd work with Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Steve and Edie Gormey, and a host of others...
The music editor that spoke to us was Jack Tillar who had recently formed a private Post-Production Company with Larry Neiman. They provided sound effects, ADR (they had their own in-house recording set-up), picture and music editing. While everyone helped out in every department when needed, Jack was the only one there that knew anything about music and music editing (which he was brilliant at). The lecture was on a Thursday. The next day I asked Jack if I could visit the office one day and he told me to come by on that Saturday. I spent hours there watching everyone doing their jobs in every department. The next morning at 6:00 am I got a call from Jack asking me if I would be interested in coming down and helping him on a show and, of course, I jumped at the chance. I got there 30 minutes later at which point he sat me down in front of a moviola, showed me how to make a cut, build a reel and then asked me to take over cause he had to go somewhere...12 hours later, I was just finishing up the last 10 minutes of the show when he returned. He made a few adjustments and then offered me a job as a music editor (I skipped having to be an apprentice and then an assistant as would have normally happened had I been in the union). I took the job and ended up working there for 4 years. During the end of the 2nd year the Union found out I was there and insisted they interview and hire a Union editor to take my place. They met with 131 editors and told the Union no one could do the job I was already doing for them so I was grandfathered into the editors union as a full editor
One of the shows we worked on was "RHODA" for MTM Productions, the composer being Billy Goldenberg. I was the editor from day one. Being a network show it fell under AFM rules so every recording session was a minimum 3 hour call but since it was a sit-com with less than 1 minute of music in an episode they were finished by the end of the 1st hour. I asked Billy if I could write some music and get it recorded by the guys so I could build a demo reel for myself with professional musicians. Up till then I'd only had my music played by student musicians (some of them ended up being top studio players working to this day but at that time they were still learning like me). He told me to make copies of some of the cues for the show he was working on, copy the parts out myself and if there was time I could record it. We got to the session and he recorded a bunch of music then stopped and turned to me. .."Did you write music for the cues I told you to?", "yes", "Did you copy and hand out the parts?", "yes"...he then walked off the conductors stand and headed to the booth after first telling me he didn't write anything for those cues and took a chance they'd either like what I wrote or would have no music for those scenes. When he got in the booth the producers were confused and furious but he calmed them down. For the past 2 years I had been sneaking onto sessions all over town (I'd also spent 3 years hanging out with Jack Elliott (God rest his soul) and Alan Fergusson (I'll tell you about my connection to them one day in the future) so all the studio musicians knew me and liked me (thank GOD!). Amidst sweat pouring off my head, I conducted the first piece (maybe 4-6 bars long) and my mouth hung open. I'd never heard my music sound like that...I didn't know I could really write like that...the first thing out of Larry Bunker's mouth (God rest his soul, too) was, "Don't worry, Rich, it'll be better on the next run through...". I, of course, acted like I knew it wasn't already perfect and for the rest of the day, every mistake I made (missing sharps/flat, whatever) they took the blame for and made me look great. Billy and I repeated this gambit a few more times during the season and when he quit the series that summer he talked them into hiring me to replace him instead of every big name in the industry at that time. I was just 24 and the youngest guy composing music for Network television at the time.
Have you ever done any symphonies, musicals, other work aside from film and television?
I have conducted orchestras of symphony size for others, in Vegas I conducted a large group for a show called "THE WOLFMAN JACK DISCO PARTY", conducted orchestras for fund raisers for the Democratic party in 1984 and worked on records of various artists. I did try to write a symphony once but it was terrible and I've hidden the music away for all time. I've never written a musical (although I played drums in a production of Carousel in high school and I've been in a couple as an actor/singer/dancer, e.g. "West Side Story" and I conducted an orchestra for Dusty Springfield when she performed on a local variety show in Amsterdam). But most of my work as a composer/conductor/arranger/orchestrator has been in TV/Film.
Do you play any instruments (and ever performed on scores)?
I was a drummer/percussionist in my youth. Took up piano in my youth, guitar in my rock days, flute, trumpet and trombone in my college marching band days (oh yeah, I played in the LAVC marching band and beginning Jazz bands during my time there) but I've never played on my sessions (although I did play a tambourine on a session for Barbra Streisand once but that's a whole other story in itself).
What was your first scoring assignment? IMDb lists a TV series called "Rhonda", but IMDb is user contributed so it's only as accurate as people's additions.
You already have the answer to that in my all too brief first answer...lol...yes Rhoda was my first and it took me 2 years before anyone would trust me enough to hire me again and it was done by tricking the producers on another show one more time...that was the series, "DALLAS". At the time, Kenny and I were orchestrating on the side for Jerry Immel. One season he got 5 different pilots and he assigned us to work on different ones. The one for Dallas was actually a 5 episode mini-series. Jerry was so busy that he gave me the opportunity to "ghost-write" the entire 2nd episode on my own. We never told them that it had been me. Then when the pilot sold we did the same thing again but this time, after they said they loved it (it was the 2nd episode of the 1st season) Jerry told them it was me and talked them into letting me compose for the series. I ended up doing about 1/3 of all the episodes for the entire 13 year run of the show.
How did you get into scoring?
Well you already have the answer to that one too. When Billy Goldenberg had been starting out, nearly every decision on who composers would be (mainly for TV shows) was handled by the Music Supervisors. By the time I was trying to get into the business that had changed to the producers who knew little or nothing about the craft or what made one composer better than another, who could really do the work, etc. Billy used to say that if he'd had to start when I did he wouldn't know how to go about it. But most of the guys at my time (and it was all guys but 2) started like I did mainly by working first as an orchestrator for someone already established who might give them a chance to do some work on their show and then give them an episode to do when they couldn't. Most composers, though, were terribly afraid to lend a hand to those coming up for fear of losing the jobs to them so it was a very tough row to hoe. I was also lucky because when I started I also got involved with the organization that loosely covered composers, the CLGA (Composers and Lyricists Guild of America). I got myself onto the board and then got myself elected its' President. At the time, the board was populated by people like Henry Mancini (God rest his...oh you get the idea now how I feel about those that have passed), Bernstein and all of the other greats that had been working at the time. So a lot of the type of guys that could help me, knew me and did. I got Remington Steele because of my relationship with Henry through that organization. At the time he got me hired to do that series he had not even heard a note of my music and just made his decision on what he knew of me as a person solely and took a big risk. When he was talked into doing Remington Steele he told its' creator that he didn't want to do a weekly series...in fact he didn't even want to do the background music for the pilot itself, just the opening and closing themes. He told them to hire me to do the background score and if the series sold I was to be its' weekly composer...it sold and that's how I got the show for the 4 ½ years it aired (and is still airing today, throughout the world. I just found out yesterday that WE TV is running it Monday-Friday at 8:00pm in many of its' markets...).
Your body of scoring work is almost exclusively television; was this intentional, or did you ever want to do film regularly?
I did want to get into film but I became fairly successful and very busy fairly quickly. By the time things calmed down, events transpired in my personal life that took me away from music and I've never gotten back to work on a film.
My understanding is that you have retired from scoring and now pursue acting. Is this correct? Are you fully retired from scoring or is there always a chance you might take on a project once in a blue moon?
Yes I have retired from music scoring. When I went into the music business it was my passion. I couldn't imagine doing anything else or feeling as passionately about anything else. When I was 8 years old my sister and I went to see West Side Story and as we sat there at the end when Maria is holding Tony's head in her lap after he's just been shot and very quietly you start to hear the violins sneak in with the music to SOMEWHERE and all through the theatre all you can hear is the softly sniffling and quiet tears of the entire audience. When we left the theatre I turned to my sister and told her that was what I wanted to do with my life...to make people feel that strongly...with tears, with laughter, however. And then about 4 1/2 years ago, I decided to try acting and I called her and asked her what she thought because I had always felt that was her end of the business and I stayed away from it...but she was so excited for me and at the idea of it and of her being my "consigliore"...she suggested I maybe do some extra work first and see if I really like it. I did...it took me all of 5 minutes to know it was exactly where I belonged. At the start, though, I didn't want to do stage work. I figured I'm 56, I'm not a kid, I'll forget my lines and be embarrassed. Then I got a part in Tennessee Williams' "SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH". It was just one scene...but the second I walked out on the stage I knew instantly I was home. It felt like nothing I'd ever felt before (to where now my dream is to have my life in New York and my career on Broadway). My passion/dreams/desires/wishes/hopes, everything...for acting makes what I felt for music a grain of sand on a beach in comparison. I spend my days working on my vocals, studying, in every way I can, acting...a little over 2 years ago I took up dance and (with the exception of the 6 months I lost after I tore my right hamstring and another 8 months after surgery on my knee when I completely shredded my meniscus) I have been studying ballet upwards of 8 – 10 classes a week (even though right now I can't get back to doing a full plie yet or leap across the stage again...but I will – I spent all of this holiday watching 8 different versions of THE NUTCRACKER)....sorry, I got a little carried away and diverged off the track...oh, and yes, I might write again if the right set of circumstances and the right project came up. I never got around to having a home studio so I'd have to do that first, though...
Your acting reel so far includes one film and a few shorts; how has the transition been from scoring to acting? Which would you say you prefer having now been a part of both worlds?
In answering the last first, it is the acting...but it has in no way diminished my love of music (which is why I include singing and dancing and keep auditioning for musicals as well as plays, TV and FILM...much like when you have a second child you don't cease or love your first one any less). But as to the transition, it's been hard because of a number of reasons. First is and probably the toughest thing is that I'm competing against actors that already have recognizable faces and pages and pages of recognizable credits so often the first response of the Casting Directors (the first gate keepers on the road to getting cast in anything) are wondering who I am and why I have so few credits for someone my age, the assumption first being I've been at it for 20-30 years like those already known...But it was also NOT difficult because I had done other things in between. I wrote scripts for a while (I wrote over 150 scripts for trailers) and a in column for a website on single parenting titled "SINGLE PARENTING FROM A DAD'S POINT OF VIEW". I also worked as a script reader and P.A. for Roger Corman, and on 2 talk shows, THE VICKI LAWRENCE SHOW and THE GEORGE AND ALANA SHOW as a writer, music clearance, Intern Co-ordinator, Guest Liaison and P.A. What's been difficult is that the chances that producers/directors/agents/casting directors will take with the young actors is far greater than they do for those in my age range...they want the older character actors to be established/experienced actors they can rely on to carry things when they have to spend time on the younger more experienced ones who are going to be around twice or three times as long and earning them money for a lot longer...but it's not a closed shop and I've made it twice before in other areas so it's just a matter of time for me to do the same in this one...I won't be done trying until I'm in the grave...
Do you still find yourself thinking of the music, when onboard an acting gig?
Absolutely not. My entire concentration is on the acting...being the very best I can be whether I'm working as an extra in the background with no lines or the lead in the front with nearly every line (as it was in CONVERSATIONS WITH MY FATHER – only my 2nd stage role). My best performance is the only thing that matters.
Why did you leave composing?
A number of reasons. Four of the five series I was composing for at the time got cancelled the same season. I had just gone through a very bitter/costly divorce and I was now a single dad. I was still getting a lot of royalties so I decided that raising my kids and being a full time parent was far more important to me. I hadn't thought I'd be taking off as much time as I did because one day I looked up and I'd been away for 7 years...I didn't have a home studio and a lot of TV was being done that way so I couldn't compete (and in those days you had to spend between $75,000 - $150,000 to build a decent one and I didn't have the income to justify that kind of expense any longer) and when I first tried I kept hearing, "what have you done lately" and "how can we trust you can write this kind of music (i.e. the current wave of hip hop and whatever) since you've been away so long..." so I figured their stupidity at what talent is capable of wasn't worth trying to overcome in this end of the business anymore...I'd made a lot of money, earned a lot of credits, won some awards and didn't figure I had anything to prove to anyone else so I decided to look to other things. That's when I began writing and working in other areas...
How has the experience been acting and so far, what project would you say to the readers, is a good representation of your work in that area?
Baring the birth of my children and having them in my life, acting has been the most amazing experience of my life...it's new and better every day and every opportunity I get to do it...I did a monologue in a class about a month ago that's run by Bobby Moresco who won Oscars for "CRASH" and "MILLION DOLLAR BABY" among many other credits as a writer/director/producer and when I was finished he had me do one thing different and it completely changed everything about my performance and taught me more in that one instance than I'd learned in months on the stage...James Gandolfini said (and it's been said by all the other great teachers and actors) that it takes at least 10 years of study before someone even begins to become an actor (not to say they don't work in the meantime...lol). As for which project, it's hard to say because it's only in musicals that you get the chance to sing and dance, but in plays you get to be a character of immense depth and growth so there is no 1 thing...but I'd say my work as the lead, EDDIE, in "CONVERSATIONS WITH MY FATHER" (the first thing on my demo tape) is a fair representation for now...I can only hope that this will continue to change with each new work I do forever.
Who would you say are, if any, people you look to in the the world of acting, as inspiration?
Meryl Streep, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, the cast of THE NEWSROOM and HOMELAND, Martin Landau, the list is endless. But one thing I will tell you that is paramount to me is that all the actors that I revere the most are the ones that started on the stage and continue to return to the stage. There are a lot of actors who are terrific in film and TV but they, in my mind, are not the best because what you learn from being a character on the stage for 2 hours straight, growing from a seed to a full flower every night, what that teaches you and how different it is every night, is the greatest teacher of all and you just can't get that when you're doing TV and Film only because you're only doing it in snippets and often, not in order of the pages of the script itself...it's a whole different kind of acting in many ways and that's why so many film and tv actors who then appear on Broadway because of their name value, fail so miserably because they never learned that part of the craft and the ability to craft a character from beginning to end and then play it in one consistent piece...one of the reasons Anne Hathaways' performance in Les Miserable and that amazing song she sang was because she did it live, in one piece, and she could only do that great a performance because of her training in stage work...likewise Hugh Jackman...but that's just my opinion which is like assholes in that everyone has one...
Out of all the big television shows you composed on, which ones would you say were the most memorable experiences?
All of them...they all were different and offered me different things...but, in truth, I would have to say the first two seasons of REMINGTON STEELE because in those days each episode was based on a feature film so I was tasked with bringing to life the style of the original score so one day I was doing Carmen and the next day I was doing Erich Wolfgang Korngold and the next Elmer Bernstein, etc. That was enormously fun because of the research I got to do, the various orchestras I got to work with.
You worked on "Dallas", which was relaunced earlier in 2012 on the cable network TNT for a new season, for 90 credited episode scores over all seasons. How did you get hired, and how do you feel being a part of that iconic legacy?
You've already heard that story in an answer to an earlier question. It was a great experience. Fun on a lot of levels and a great teacher on others. After the 3rd season, I think, I spent the summer working in the booth for Jerry Fielding who, at the time, was scoring for the sequel to the Poseidon Adventure among other films. I would sit in the booth to cue the mixer (often Dan Wallin, whom I loved and not just because of his connection to WOODSTOCK...lol). I would follow along with his scores and see how he wrote, how he combined instruments I hadn't thought to do and more. I will never forget coming back to do my first episode of DALLAS after that. The first notice I got was from the string section who said they had never seen writing like that in TV work and were enormously grateful to have all those notes on the page instead of just the goose eggs (whole notes) they mostly got. The next acknowledgement I got was from Jerry Immel and a lot of other composers who wanted to know who I'd been studying with over the summer and how could they get to work with them because my work had take a quantum leap over what I'd been doing previously and had a maturity and complexity to it they'd not seen from me before. That was a great moment for me...but the best and final one came from one of the actors who'd been playing MISS ELLY (before she passed away) and had had a scene at a mental institution and this long speech to JOCK and how I had taken every subtle change in her emotion and her words and played them up in way to bring so much more meaning to them than even she had been able to do as the actress and how thankful she was to me for doing that for her and for the scene...it was the kind of thing I had been dreaming of doing since I left that theatre after watching West Side Story.
Do you have any favorite scores from the series?
Well I inadvertently answered that just now in the previous question.
Did you ever mentor and thus protege another composer into the industry?
I wouldn't call what I did as mentoring, but I did give my orchestrators the opportunity to compose an episode for themselves when I had to pass on them a few times and tried to give them their shot as I had been given mine.
What was the last film or television project you worked on?
I think it was Dallas and Guns of Paradise, both of which were the last couple I composed for before I stopped.
How do feel about today's scoring versus the work during the time you largely composed?
I don't pay as much attention to it unless it's really good or really bad but I have, on a couple of occasions, sent a note to a composer when he'd done something that really struck me. There was a piece of music for an episode of the series, "BLUE BOODS" written by Mark Snow who is the main composer on the series and it blew me away. I taped the show and re-watched that segment over and over because the music was so moving and so right for the scene. It was in an episode when the lead Tom Selleck goes to meet with the head of a Mafia family to talk about the man's son...it takes place at a restaurant by the beach as I remember...anyway, it was a great piece of music and I've done that a few times...I also really love the theme music to THE NEWSROOM but then I happen to love EVERYTHING about that show, especially its' writing. I've auditioned twice for a very teeny tiny Co-Star role but haven't gotten cast yet...but I will...I am desperate to speak Aaron Sorkin's words. I still replay every episode of The West Wing and The Newsroom either in my car or at home whenever I can...I guess by now you can tell I'm very obsessive about my creative endeavors.
Can you tell us about some of your favorite scores from your body of work?
Honestly, other than the stuff I've already mentioned I can't. It's been 22 years since I composed the last one and 38 years since I composed the first one. I will tell you that I've often watched an old episode and couldn't remember writing that music and wondering how in the hell I thought of it in the first place...I'm even mystified by the work I've done because I can't even tell you WHERE it all comes from. I just start to hear it in my head and then it goes through my finger tips, my pencil and onto the page. And until I hear the musicians play it even I don't know for sure what it will sound like (especially after the orchestrators sometimes got to it and would add in something of their own even I hadn't thought of...though most of my sketches were pretty complete, much like the way John Williams works, still I'd always leave room to allow them to enhance my work if they felt strongly about something they wanted to do, a combination of instruments I hadn't thought of, and so on.
Are there any scores you've done that you really wish had or would be, released on CD? As it stands, none of your work has been officially released.
I never really thought my work was strong enough to warrant it...it's enough that it gets released on DVD. I will tell you a tragedy, though. I had stored all of my work except for one cassette with 4 pieces of music on it, an old demo, in a storage facility and it was all lost. I won't go into how cause it doesn't matter, but suffice it to say I have nothing left of all the years of work but those 4 pieces of music. I suppose if I had the money and the time, I could find out where the originals have been stored and get copies made but I haven't. I did, however, contribute all of my score pages to UCLA's music department for them to use for their students so at least they still exist.
With the turnaround time, what was the average time and process like trying to score on a big show?
That varied with each show. Most shows would give you a week to write the score which would have maybe 15 -- 20 minutes of music in them...for a sitcom that was a luxury cause you'd have maybe 1 -- 3 minutes of music per episode but you would usually record 3 episodes at a time so you'd have upwards of 10 minutes on average. For the average dramatic show it was tight but not impossible. Occasionally, you'd get more time but nothing like a feature film that would give you a week to do 1 -- 3 minutes in or commercials where you'd have a week to do a minute of music. But then there were some shows that were brutal. Spelling-Goldberg shows were notorious for having upwards of 35 minutes but a lot of that was the transition music that was the theme so it wasn't like you were having to come up with "new" music, so you still had maybe 20 minutes of new music to come up with. But I had one show, "COVER-UP" that had 35 -- 40 minutes every week, it was mostly chase/action music (so there were hundreds of bars of music for each piece) and I was lucky if I'd see the show on Tuesday or even Wednesday then have to record it on Friday and send each finished piece right to the dubbing stage where they were putting it together to either air that night or the next night. The added problem was they were always re-cutting the show up till the last minute so I was having to do edits and re-writes on the session itself...it was brutal.
Another long-running TV series was "Dynasty", which you ended up only doing one episode of; why didn't you end up scoring more episodes?
I actually think I did 3 in total but I only worked on that when the regular composer couldn't as a favor to help him out...often we would jump in for each other on shows, especially when the producers already knew us so they wouldn't have to worry that we would be getting something completely different. We'd tailor it to the style of the main composer for the series so there would be continuity for the shows' producers...I did that on a number of shows, Cagney & Lacey being another one, Laverne & Shirley, too. Also, I was usually very busy on my own shows and outside work so that I couldn't take on any more than that. There was a point where I was composing music on 5 series at once...I had 2 orchestrators working for me and I'd do one show in the morning and another in the afternoon and another in the evening. I had just moved into a new home that was under construction for a year while I lived on a couch with my clothes piled on the floor next to me...my father was dying of Cancer and I spent nearly every day traveling from one end of the San Fernando Valley and over the hill to Cedars hospital...After a while you tend to use a lot of the same musicians on all your dates because they're the best and they get to know what you want and for the rhythm section they get a feel for playing together over the long term. But with my writing it got to a very funny point one week. I was writing my 5 series and I had a session for one of them on Wednesday morning and another on Friday morning. After the first 10 minute break started on Friday a few of the musicians came up to me and said, "Didn't we already play some of these same themes and pieces on Wednesday for that other show?" I happened to still have the other scores in my car and ran to look at them and, sure enough, I was borrowing from one show to use in another without even realizing it...thank God it was only the musicians who noticed. But there was another instance when one of the stars noticed. There was an episode of Remington Steele whose opening scene reminded me of a movie that had this amazing chord changes and intense and mesmerizing sax solo going on over them...so I copied the idea and hired my band and recorded the music. The first that happened was on the day of the session. I would often go up to one of the musicians to explain to them what I was looking for if I wasn't able to do it fully in the notes on the page, a certain feel or phrasing I was looking for that I had to tell/show them and not just write it out in notes. So on this day I went to my Sax player (who shall remain nameless in case he hears/reads this and starts laughing at me again) and I start to tell him what I want but he just looks at me likes he's totally confused and I'm nuts...so then I ask him if he has seen the movie I'm imitating because that's the style of the sole I want him to play and he and the rest of the band start to laugh because it turned out he was that Sax player on that session...needless to say, he knew exactly what I was looking for. The next thing was when I happened to be on the set a couple of weeks later and Stephanie Zimbalist came up to compliment me on having done such an amazing take off on that opening scene from that movie...having a grandfather who was an amazing violinist and her own background in music I should have known she would recognize it immediately but she swore she'd keep my secret, kissed me on the cheek and walked away...I've had a crush on her ever since...lol
Yet again you worked another series with a big cult following, "Remington Steele". How did you get on the show?
Unfortunately, I've already answered that one earlier. It was all thanks to Henry Mancini's faith in me as a person without any knowledge of my work as a composer. Each year when he re-recorded the opening and closing theme music he would reiterate to the producer that I was the only person for them to use on the show and I was.
Two of the series episodes were not scored by you ("Gourmet Steele" by Arthur Kempel, and "Corn Fed Steele" by Don Nemitz); why was that?
At the time, I'd had other obligations that I couldn't get out of and the networks were insisting that two episodes be delivered at the same time and this happened twice. So, I used the opportunity to offer them to other composers, both of whom had been working for me as orchestrators and I knew they wanted to branch out to working on their own shows (although one of them, who did an amazing job, subsequently changed his mind and stayed as an orchestrator, not wanting to deal with all the headaches he learned came along with being the composer of record, the politics and such...).
Did you get a chance to meet Henry Mancini, who provided the show's opening theme, and did you apply the theme throughout the series' run?
Not only did I get to meet him (and have often seen his wife and daughters since his death) but he wrote his last piece of music for a project I was involved with and spent his last moments in a recording studio on that same project. It was for an opening gala for a coffee table book that I had gotten involved with because my kids and sister were in the book. I'd gotten Henry to write a song for the event (I didn't know until after I asked him that he had Cancer and was one of the few to learn of it before the public did). I ended up writing a dedication to him and about that song and session that appears in the back of the book. Every time I think of it, it stills gives me goose bumps and brings tears to my eyes.
What was the typical size of an orchestra (and what was the largest you recall using) for the major shows you worked on? Did you record locally?
First, I'm a hondler...which means I drive people crazy to get what I want. In those days, having an orchestrator was a luxury that was usually (if not always) paid for by the composer out of his own pocket...I made the shows hire one for me on their dime. On top of that, I would insist on using bigger orchestras than they normally would by making them believe they couldn't get the kind of sound and drama they wanted if anything less. So where most guys would have about 20 -- 22 players I'd get upwards of 35 and more and a lot more use of doubles from various players (that's when one players plays more than one instrument, e.g. a Sax player also playing a Flute and a Clarinet) because they'd get paid a lot more money to do that. The only time I used the original size orchestra was on Rhoda cause I was starting and didn't want to veer away from what Billy had already established on the show. It was a strange mixture, too, because there was not a full section in any area so when one day the producer asked me to have the guys record the William Tell Overture, I asked them and their only response was to ask what key. I told them to talk amongst themselves and decide figuring they'd pick a key and then all play the melody but when it came time to record it they played their usual harmony parts and it was amazing...and without any music to read from...they are truly the best musicians in the world...oh, and yes, it was all recorded locally. There's a great story about my first time recording Rhoda on my own at the start of the 3rd season so let me know if you want to hear that, too.
(Leaving it up to Mr. Warren on telling the story, he did so)
I was the music editor on the show and up till then all of my music was recorded at student recording sessions at Valley Junior College...I'd also, for about 2 years, been sneaking into sessions at Universal and Warner Bros. and Paramount (in those days if you were glib you could talk your way onto the lots and after a while the security knew me and knew I'd head straight to the scoring stages so they'd just waive me in) and getting to know the music supervisors and all the musicians and I also hung out and did some work for Jack Elliott and Alan Ferguson (Jack wrote the music to the first 2 movies for Disney that my sister had starred in and had actually introduced her to her first husband who later became head of Sony Studios and a big producer, Jon Peters)...anyway, I'd been wanting to get my music recorded in a better studio with these top musicians so I could put a professional demo together and in those days sessions were 3 hour minimums no matter how little music there was to record and for a sit-com like Rhoda we'd be done in 60 - 90 minutes at most...so...one day when I was dropping off the music notes to Billy Goldenberg I asked if I could bring in something and if there was time get it recorded...He suggested instead that I copy 3 - 4 of the cues and pretend I was writing for those scenes and to let him know which ones I'd be doing duplicates of...we got to the session and Billy recorded a bunch of music then turned and asked me if I wrote for the cues we'd discussed and if I'd given the musicians their parts...I said yeah, but first we'd record his version and he said he took a chance and didn't write anything for those scenes...he then left the podium and walked into the booth to a very confused and somewhat angry producer who demanded to know why I was standing in his place...I started sweating profusely (at the time I was just 24 and the youngest guy to be doing this on top ten TV show)...I conducted the first piece and my mouth dropped open because I had no idea I could write that well...the first thing I heard was Larry Bunker (a percussionist, no longer around) who said, "Don't worry, Rich, it'll be better on the next run through"...if there were any mistakes I didn't hear them but I acted like I knew and we did it again and recorded it. We did the rest of the cues and any time there was an error, like a missing sharp or flat or whatever, the guys/gals took the blame and said they read it wrong or asked if I meant for them to do it differently all to make me look good...it was an amazing experience...we did that about 3 -4 times throughout the second season which is when this happened, not the third as your question above references...
As may be aware, an acquaintance of mine Gregly Hubai, released the book Torn Music, which chronicles over 300 rejected scores. Amongst them is a rejected score for the "Moonlighting" episode: The Lady in the Iron Mask; your score was accidently included on the DVD set. Can you tell us about your approach to the music, and why it was not used?
I don't know about any of this...
What are some of your favorite scores, not composed by yourself?
Those by Bernard Hermann, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, some of John Williams, some by Alan Silvestri, Bruce Broughton and a few others...it's not so much scores in total but their work in general.
Who are some of your favorite composers (living or deceased)?
See the above.
Have you ever had a score rejected, or replaced any scores?
There was only 1 rejection of a score that I let get to me and that was the one from the story I alluded to earlier so I'll tell it to you now...This was my first job as a composer on my own and it was for the show RHODA. Up till then, the show had been recorded almost entirely at a place called TTG studios and run by an Israeli guy, Ami Hadani, that had, over the years, become like a father to me in the industry. Towards the end of the 2nd season we'd been recording it at CBS studios in the valley, but Billy was aware of my relationship with Ami...At the start of the 3rd season, the woman who had been one of the producer's of the show became an Executive Producer. A second new Exec. Prod. was added as well as a new line producer and a new Associate Producer, all of whom came to the first session, which happened to be on a Friday. Billy made sure not only that we recorded it at TTG but also that all of the musicians hired were his usuals and all knew me well and liked me a lot and would be totally in my corner. The way a session goes is you recorded a piece of music then, from the podium, I would call into the booth to make sure it was okay and they liked it and we could proceed, they would answer yes or maybe ask for another take for either technical or performance glitches, we would and then we'd go on. At this session, I kid you not, after EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY PIECE OF MUSIC WAS RECORDED, I would call into the booth for the okay and I'd get no answer but we could all see this intense fighting going on amongst the producers with Billy and Ami sitting there helpless and powerless. They would constantly reassure me every time I kept calling for an answer and each time it would be a couple of minutes before I'd finally get a begrudging okay to go on to the next piece. By the end of the first hour I was close to tears and the musicians ushered me out of the room so they could reassure me it would all be okay and then talk amongst themselves about how they'd never seen anything like this happen before to anyone...by the end of the session it was all I could do not to break down. I went into the booth and all the producers said was they were having a meeting first thing Monday morning and I was expected to be there. As soon as they and all the musicians left, I broke down crying hysterically because I knew my brand new career was already over and I was getting fired on Monday. Both Billy and Ami tried to tell me it happens to all composers, everyone has a score thrown out, but I said not their very first one on a top ten TV series...they just looked down because they knew what was coming just like I did...I got to the meeting on Monday and the first thing I was told was that they were considering using Billy's music from the previous two seasons to cover that first episode. Then they proceeded to dissect every single piece of music I had written just like they had the previous Friday. One liked all of it, one like none of it, one like the first half of a piece and not the second and one liked the second half and not the first. This went on for 5 hours and I just sat there watching my career going down the drain. At the end of it they turned to me and asked me if I knew what they were looking for. I told them I did, went home and wrote exactly what I wanted to on every piece of music on the next episode. They came into the session and raved about all of it and told me what a great composer I was. I found out later that all their arguing had been because they were all new to their roles as producers on the show and were trying to stake their territory where decisions about music were concerned and none of it had anything to do with me...from that day on I never worried about whether my music was liked or not (except for that one instance on Dallas where it turned out to not even by my music that wasn't liked in the first place).
Any upcoming acting projects (or otherwise) you can tell us about?
The last one I did was as LORD FERMOR in "THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY"...I've got a bunch of auditions coming up but I don't talk about them until afterwards cause it's bad luck...other than that?....
And finally, if there is anything you'd like to comment on that wasn't covered by a question earlier (or you felt a question didn't go fully enough into), please feel free to say what ever you want.
Nothing that I can think of but if there's more that's been triggered in your mind but what I've written above please feel free to send me the questions and I'll be happy to answer them to the best of my ability...for instance, the manner in which I heard about getting Rhoda and my first meeting with the producers was an interesting story but it's up to you if you want to hear about it...lol.
(At this point I left this up to Mr. Warren, and he did go on to tell the story)
As to finding out, I was sitting at the front desk one day covering for the receptionist at lunchtime when the phone rings and I answer, "Neiman-Tillar Associates" and a whispering voice said, "You've got it"..."Who is this?" "You Got it"...we kept going back and forth like this could I couldn't decipher whose voice it was and finally she spoke up and said it was the producer of Rhoda and I got it so I asked her what did I get. She said, "You don't know?" and I told her I had no idea what she was talking about....it turned out that Billy had been planning to leave the show at the end of the second season and when he told them they started talking about Jerry Goldsmith and Artie Kane and Jerry Fielding and a host of other huge names to take his place but he talked them into hiring me...The producer was calling to warn me that I was going to be hearing from the executive producers who were going to want to meet with me on Monday and I had to convince them I could conduct and make last minute changes on the stand when the show got re-cut at the last minute...so when I met with them the following Monday I said yes I could to everything and then they said they'd get back to me...i got back to the office and another call came in from Billy's Agent, Stan Milander who was partners at the time in only the second of the 2 biggest (and maybe only) agents handling Film/TV composers at the time...he said he'd rep me for just this gig but wouldn't take me on yet....he called me back later and said he had good news and bad news...the good was that he got me the exact same deal he'd gotten Billy so I was in shock cause this was my first job ever and I was going to get what the big boys did...then he said the bad news is I shouldn't quit my day job yet cause in those days you only scored 1/2 the shows for the season and only got $330 per show plus your residuals which weren't much cause there was rarely more than 1 minute of music tops in total in an episode...but I was still thrilled...He did end up taking me on and I didn't get another job of my own for another 2 years and that was Dallas and it wasn't till then that I was able to quit my day job...
Published: January 22, 2013