The Society of Composers & Lyricists hosted a panel discussion Tuesday night with composers Sean Callery (“24: Legacy”), Siddhartha Khosla (“This Is Us”), Mac Quayle (“Feud: Bette and Joan” and “American Horror Story: Roanoke”), and Jeff Russo (“Fargo” and “Legion”). Gold Derby moderated the event at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood that was organized by 20th Century Fox TV, FX and Impact 24 PR.
Callery won three Emmys out of 10 nominations for his work on the original “24” and its return, so coming back to the franchise had special significance for him. The challenge was “to make something new without disorienting people. It required more exploration and a strong showrunner.” He adds, “Each show has it’s own special sauce,” which affects the music. Callery won his fourth Emmy last year for “Jessica Jones” (Main Title Theme) and competed three more times for Main Title Theme (“The Kennedys” in 2011, “Homeland” in 2012, and “Elementary” in 2013), once for Movie/Mini Score (“24: Live Another Day” in 2015), once for Score (“Minority Report” in 2016), and once for Sound Editing (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” in 1993).
In addition to scoring “This Is Us,” Khosla also penned the song “We Can Always Come Back to This” for the episode “Memphis,” which reached #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart for four weeks in a row. Reflecting on his good fortune, he divulges, “An Indian guy from Jersey writes a Motown song and it reaches #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart – this could only happen on a show like ‘This Is Us.'” When it came to the score, “it was all about connecting people on a different level and thinking about the larger picture and context, scoring why those characters are there and what their purpose is.”
“Feud” is the latest collaboration between Quayle and Ryan Murphy, following “The People v O.J. Simpson,” “Scream Queens,” and three seasons of “American Horror Story” (“Freak Show,” “Hotel,” and “Roanoke”). “Ryan creates this sandbox that I get to play in,” he states. In the case of “Feud,” it was, “let’s go back to 1962 Hollywood: there’s the sandbox, now I get to play in it.” Quayle won his first Emmy last year for his score to “Mr. Robot” and competed once before for “AHS: Freak Show.” He has also contended at the Grammys for the Donna Summer dance recording “I Will Go with You (Con te partirò)” (1999).
Russo has a similar relationship with showrunner Noah Hawley on “Fargo” and “Legion.” “Collaboration allows me to be really creative,” he reveals. “Having someone that’s a really great storyteller, in detail especially, enables me to have a better idea of how they want it to be portrayed with music.” Russo has twice competed at the Emmys for scoring “Fargo” (2014 and 2016), and contended at the Grammys for the rock album “Head on Straight” (2003).
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