Themes from ‘Score Productions’

“World News Webcast” Theme

The webcast was launched in 2006 as part of a larger effort by ABC News to provide more frequent newscasts. When Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff started anchoring, they anchored 3 live broadcasts for 3 different timezones. And in the afternoon at 3 p.m. EST, one of them also did the daily webcast. In the beginning it was called World News Now, but the name was changed to avoid confusion with the ABC’s overnight newscast. When Charlie Gibson took over as anchor, he continued the webcast but only appeared on it a few of times a week. When Diane Sawyer took over World News in 2009, the webcast was cancelled. The theme music for the webcast was originally intended for the weekend editions for World News Tonight.

Score Productions – World News Webcast

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“World News Now” 2004 – 2007 Theme

This theme, composed by Score Productions, was used until at least 2007 but it may have been used until 2008. It’s a more traditional news theme than the other themes that ABC’s overnight newscast has used.

Score Productions – World News Now theme

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“This Week” 2003 – 2007 Theme

Despite a rough start for George Stephanopolous, a few years into his stint as moderator of This Week he started finding his ways (and an audience). The graphics and theme for This Week have a distinctly fresh appearance, especially compared to its rival programs. The theme has the ABC News emblem.

Score Productions – This Week theme

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“This Week” 2002 – 2003 Theme

In 2002 George Stephanopolous was named moderator of This Week. Stephanopolous is a former Clinton communications aid who frequently helped prepare members of the Clinton administration for these Sunday morning public affairs programs. And considering the intense scrutinizing, an adequate preparation is a must for politicians coming on. Often the guests on these programs spend the better part of Saturday anticipating questions and thinking through answers. This short lived theme was composed by Score Productions.

Score Productions – This Week theme

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“An American Dream” (ABC News Theme)

This orchestral rendition of the ABC News theme has been used by the network on some very sad occasions. It was used on GMA and World News Tonight the day after lead anchor Peter Jennings died in 2005. It was also used on the 9/11 anniversary coverage in 2002 and 2003. While the emotionally moving music was appropriate for these occasions, it wasn’t intended to be used on air. It is an expanded version of the ABC World News theme played by a concert orchestra. Gary Anderson of Score Productions arranged and orchestrated the work. He also conducted the Nashville orchestra playing the music. It was recorded in 2001. In an interview with BMI, Score Productions president Bob Israel said that the suite, “has a very strong American identity: it’s modal, neither major nor minor in origin, and lends itself perfectly to an American aesthetic known in concert circles through the music of Aaron Copeland and Roy Harris, which conjures up images of broad vistas of the American landscape. Even in its original form, it is a purely American sound. It’s not atonal or abstract, but emotional.”

Score Productions – An American Dream

Courtesy of the Museum of Television Production Music.

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“(20/20) Downtown” Theme

Unlike most other news magazines at the time, 20/20 Downtown (or later just Downtown) was never carried by any big name anchor. An ensemble of anchors fronted the broadcast, which was aimed at attracting younger viewers. The anchor and reporting duties were covered by the team of Elizabeth Vargas, Cynthia McFadden, Chris Cuomo, and John Quiñones. For the theme, ABC turned to Score Productions. Though Downtown was officially cancelled in 2002, it returned for one season as Primetime Monday a year later. Same anchors, same format and same theme (though a slightly different arrangement).

Score Productions – Downtown theme

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“20/20” 2000 – 2001 Theme

In the fall of 2000 the Barbara Walters news magazine was given a totally new theme for the first in its history. Previously they had used a version of its classic 1979 theme with slightly modernized instrumentation. Although this theme includes some notes from the previous theme, it is without a doubt more contemporary. Like the previous 20/20 themes, this theme is composed by Score Productions.

Score Productions – 20/20 theme

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“20/20” 1998 – 2000 Theme

This 20/20 theme is an update of the classic theme composed by Walt Levinsky for Score Productions. When it premiered, ABC decided to name its news magazine 20/20 to drive home the point that it would help viewers see the events that shape their lives, clearly. The first executive producer, Bob Shanks, came up with the name. In optometry 20/20 stands for clearness of vision. It is expressed as a fraction because the two numbers have different meanings. The top number means the distance you stand from the chart from which you are asked to read (usually 20 feet). And the bottom number stands for the distance at which a person with normal eyesight could correctly read the line with the smallest letters.

Score Productions – 20/20 theme

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“This Week” 1996 – 2002 Theme

Co-moderators Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts replaced David Brinkley. They were familiar to the show’s audience, as both were frequent panelists in the Brinkley-era. Sam and Cokie’s This Week, never really caught on however. After 15 years of Sunday morning dominance, the number one spot was relinquished to NBC’s Meet the Press with Tim Russert. Cokie and Sam were replaced in 2002 after falling behind CBS’ Face the Nation.

Score Productions – This Week theme

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“World News Tonight” 1996 – 1998 Theme

For the first time since 1978, ABC News used a different theme for its evening flagship broadcast. It was not entirely new because this theme is derived from the 1996 election music. It was used for a short period of time in which NBC Nightly News overtook ABC in the ratings. In 1998 they brought back a version of their original theme, but have in later years (2000, 2012) attempted to replace the original theme with something different. This short-lived theme was brought back for the coverage of the political conventions of 2000.

Edd Kalehoff – World News Tonight open
Edd Kalehoff – World News Tonight close

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“The ’96 Vote” Theme

From a horse race perspective the 1996 presidential election was a bore. The minute that primary season was over, President Clinton seemed to be cruising to reelection, beating Bob Dole. Nonetheless, ABC commissioned a new election theme by Score Productions. It was resurrected in 2004, Peter Jennings’ last election night broadcast, after being absent for two election cycles. World News Tonight would start using a variation of this theme for its broadcast from 1996 to 1998.

Score Productions – The ’96 Vote theme

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“ABC News Radio” Current Theme

This is the sounder used for the hourly news updates from ABC News Radio since 1995. ABC’s newscasts are fed to more than 2,000 stations across the nation. ABC News actually produces multiple hourly news updates. This theme is used on the information network, which consists of mainly talk radio stations. These newscasts go more in depth and have more global news compared to the newscasts produced for the entertainment and fm networks.

Score Productions – ABC News Radio theme

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“Face the Nation” 1991 – 2002 Theme

Face the Nation is one of the longest running programs on television. At thirty minutes in length until 2012, it was the shortest of the Sunday morning public affairs programs. In its long history, legends such as Howard K. Smith and Bob Schieffer moderated the program. This theme is composed by Chuck Loeb for Score Productions and lasted until 2002.

Score Productions – Face the Nation theme

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“Day One” 1993 – 1995 Theme

News magazines are like fashion accessories: one day they are hot; the next they aren’t. And when they are hot, there is no escaping them. They are all over the network schedules. Each network will stretch its news staff to the limits to create more news magazines. Life expectancy is short for most of them. Day One, which is such a failed news magazine, was created to fill a whole in the ABC schedule. True to tradition, the news magazine promised to be different. In this case, it was to feature softer content compared to the investigations and hard news on 20/20 and Prime Time Live. ABC News President Roone Arledge reveals in his book, Roone, that he thought Connie Chung would be a perfect fit as anchor. But that did not work out. Instead the low key but capable Forrest Sawyer served as sole anchor of the program.

Score Productions – Day One theme

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“Up to the Minute” 1992 – 2006 Theme

Up to the Minute is CBS’ overnight newscast. It premiered in 1992 with Russ Mitchell and Monica Gayle as its first anchor team. The program was more serious and less irreverent than its main competitor World News Now on ABC. In 2015 the program was rebranded as the CBS Overnight News.

Score Productions – Up to the Minute theme

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