Gary Lionelli Q&A: ‘O.J.: Made in America’ composer
“I was thrilled that so many of our team got nominated,” divulges “O.J.: Made in America” composer Gary Lionelli when asked during our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video interview above) about his Emmy bid. Directed by Ezra Edelman, this ESPN production tells the sprawling story of O.J. Simpson, a football player whose high profile murder trial exposed the extent of racial division in our country. The film won this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and competes for six Emmys, including Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking and Best Score for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special.
The tunesmith reveals that when he was initially approached to score the film, “I thought that maybe it was just going to be a simple recounting of the O.J. trial.” Yet, “I soon found out that it was couched in a broader historical context, with what was happening in Los Angeles at the time with race relations and the country as a whole.” He believes that viewers “were a little surprised to view those events within that historical context.”
Lionelli received Daytime Emmy nominations for “Tom & Jerry Kids Show” in 1992 and “The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest” in 1997. He has worked extensively in documentaries, winning Sports Emmys for the films “Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghost of Flatbush” in 2008, “Ted Williams” in 2009, and “Kareem: Minority of One” in 2016, contending once more for “Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals” in 2011.
He competes in this category against “Fargo” (Jeff Russo), “Feud: Bette and Joan” (Mac Quayle), “Five Came Back” (Jeremy Turner), “Suite Française” (Rael Jones), and “The White Helmets” (Patrick Jonsson). Check out our full interview above for more, including his reaction to Simpson’s recent parole from a Nevada prison after serving nine years for armed robbery.