Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another music video

I seem to have invented entirely new ways to not get paid for work. A couple years ago I was working at Warner Bros directing on the Looney Tunes Show. In To Bowl Or Not To Bowl (of which Will Finn storyboarded a big chunk) there is a bowling championship montage. I thought Frank Stallone's 80's hit Far From Over would have the perfect feel and assembled the montage to an edit I'd done of that song. The producers really liked the sequence, but I was dreading the thought of what would happen when the cartoon was scored. On other cartoons I'd worked on the underscore composers usually did dreadful songs (see Hollywood Plucky from Tiny Toons. The song where Plucky is dressed as Michael Jackson was supposed to approximate "Beat It".

Without telling anyone I went ahead and wrote a clone of the Frank Stallone song, which is to say a song that evokes the feeling of the original song, but the melody and arrangement has been changed sufficiently so as to not breach copyright.

When I played the sequence with my song "Ready To Bowl" for the producer, it took him two listens before he realized it wasn't the Frank Stallone song. I had my friend Tony Brock (the insanely great drummer from the Rod Stewart Band and The Babys) play drums and mix the song. He brought in Gary Moon from Night Ranger to do the vocals- they made the song TOTALLY SMOKE!

Anyway, the Looney Tunes producer thanked me profusely saying I'd saved the day- the Stallone song was going to cost $250,000 to license, prohibitively expensive. They told me I'd get $5,000 plus of course royalties every time the song plays on TV. I waited until I'd been told by the Warner attorney that it was a done deal before I said anything to Tony or Gary (Gary stood to make a lot of money for the vocal performance). shortly after I relayed the good news, the lawyer stopped talking to me. A year and a half later I saw the cartoon on TV. They had someone do a clone of my clone! It was so exact that when I put my song back over the footage, it lined up exactly, I didn't have to adjust anything. Oh, and they had someone write really shitty lyrics for it too!

A good reminder that nothing is a done deal until the check clears!!!

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