TV News With Emotional Notes

Are you moved by the network evening newscasts? Emotionally torn? Joyously thrilled? Warmly comforted?

It could be those expensive themes that grandiose film composers such as John Williams or James Horner have been orchestrating for your listening and dancing pleasures. 

More than ever, broadcast network newscasts will do whatever it takes to leave a lasting impression--and a positive marketing image. Me? I'll take a good breaking story of a wide-eyed politician or business slickster being put on the spot. That's music to my ears--and notepad.

For the new "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric," the emphasis was on a sweeping grandiose sound with a strong Americana cinematic appeal--and so James Horner, who wrote the theme for "Titanic," fit the bill.

For NBC's new "Sunday Night Football," movie composer John Williams came up with about four different themes--for use also with NBC's pre-game show. Williams has done other work for the network--various Olympics and NBC News. Overall, Daily Variety says Williams has made $15 million to $20 million in fees from his news music alone.



Composers typically sell the music to networks for a small fee. But the major dollars flow to composers each time the theme is played over the life of a TV show. This is called "performance income."

Setting the tone with any entertainment goes along the same path. Consider sports events. Our national anthem is played almost with religious and solemn zest--a song, which has little going for it musically. No one from "American Idol" will take a stab at it, for example.

As has been said many times before, why does a national anthem only happen for athletes? Why doesn't Macy's start its business day the same way? I'd be moved to buy curtains and assorted socks.

Getting back to the news, I can understand the momentous effect music can have on news--which potentially becomes glorious history. In that regard, I vote for two classics to start off my network newscast: King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" or Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

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