Some Words About Some Music

James Lipton discusses the Inside the Actors Studio Suite.

The holidays are behind us. For those who have read my previous blogs, yes, I attended the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, and yes, I cried my customary tears of joy when the Rockettes performed their matchless battements.

The end of the holiday season means that we’re halfway through our sixteenth season, a near-record in a medium where the most popular TV shows of all time – “Mash,” “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “ER,” etc. – have left the scene after seven or eight seasons.

As we prepare to shoot our Spring episodes, I can take advantage of this brief pause to review your responses to my previous blog, for which, as always, I’m grateful. As I’ve written previously, the greatest pleasure of this blog has been the opportunity to meet living, breathing members of the vast invisible audience in Bravo’s 89,000,000 homes, and the 125 countries into which we’re broadcast. So……

A warm hello from my study on a wintry Sunday night to Ulrika in Sweden on what I suspect is an even colder one.

To all of you who have written to ask how you can attend the live Inside the Actors Studio tapings, you can obtain tickets through the website of Pace University,

To Sharon and David Robinson, the Inside the Actors Studio music about which you and hundreds of other viewers have inquired is written by the American composer Angelo Badalamenti. Here is his story and the remarkable story of our score:

In the fall of 1994, when the Actors Studio Drama School and Inside the Actors Studio were born, it was clear we’d need some theme music – fast. Fortunately, I was then serving on the Board of Governors of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and one day after a meeting, I approached a fellow Board member, Angelo Badalamenti, the distinguished composer of many film scores, including the distinctive music for all of David Lynch’s movies, and the creator of what is in my view television’s finest score, the haunting themes that accompanied “Twin Peaks.”

I told him we were inaugurating a series on what was then a cable network with 20,000,000 viewers, and asked whether he would consider composing the score for our titles, credits, bumpers and music cues. Angelo, being a fellow Academy Board member and a man of good heart, agreed not only to compose but to play (on synthesizers and at his own expense) the score for a fledgling TV series owned by a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit educational institution with unknown prospects and zero budget for music.

Undaunted and, as always, inspired, Angelo delivered a score that was evocative and unforgettable, becoming instantly one of the hallmarks of the series.

Over the next fourteen years, we were besieged with questions about our music: “Is it Brahms?” “Delius?” “Where can we get the full score?”

For every hundred requests we’d had for the non-existent “full Inside the Actors Studio score,” Angelo had received a thousand. It was, in short, time to update the show’s score.

As gracious and fertile as ever, Angelo prepared to go into a studio with a full orchestra to record a cache of captivating new music cues, designed to match any mood the show’s hundreds of conversations might evoke, in a flurry of imaginative variations on the central Inside the Actors Studio theme he’d written and played fourteen years previously – the theme that evoked the deluge of questions and requests.

As Angelo was composing the cues, it occurred to me to ask whether an orchestral suite might be written to satisfy the constant demand for “the full score.”

Angelo being Angelo, I got a call from him a few days later to tell me that, in a creative burst, he’d composed the suite, and would record it with the cues at the session.

So, in response to what can honestly be called popular demand, the symphonic Inside the Actors Studio Suite, nine minutes of unmistakable, unforgettable Badalamenti, now exists, and, in answer to your question, Sharon and David – and to the questions of the many others who have inquired – check Badalamenti out through this website – and enjoy his wondrous work.

And continue letting me know your thoughts and wishes. As you can see, I read them as carefully as I read the material that winds up on those blue cards.

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