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 couple of times a week. When Diane Sawyer took over World News in 2009, the webcast was cancelled.

The theme package 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 signature.

Score Productions - This Week theme

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“War with Iraq” Theme


This is the variation of the ABC News Special Report theme that was occasionally used for ABC’s coverage of the war with Iraq. ABC made a couple of major blunders. On March 19th, the day President Bush’s deadline for Saddam expired, Peter Jennings was AWOL when the war began. He was reportedly at a dinner party. ABC News broke into regular programming later than the competition (some ABC affiliates broke in before the network), first with Chris Wallace anchoring and then a few embarrassing minutes later, Peter Jennings. But the network had told affiliates that their coverage would continue through the 11 pm hour; thus, the late local news would be scrapped. Many stations sent their crews home. A few minutes before 11 pm, however, ABC News decided to wrap up their coverage. They, however, failed to tell affiliates. So when Peter Jennings signed off for the night, affiliates were caught completely off guard. Many were left were with minutes of dead air only to put together a badly produced newscast. That does not happen often!

Edd Kalehoff - War with Iraq 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. What distinguishes a good moderator is his ability to cut through the prepared material, and elicit statements that they weren’t prepared to make. 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, 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 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, who previously was the in-house liberal, and Cokie Roberts, formerly a regular panelist, replaced David Brinkley. 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, World News Tonight. It was not entirely new because this theme is certainly based on the previous theme. 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 attempted twice (2000, 2001) 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. 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.

Score Productions - The '96 Vote theme

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“Day One” 1995 Theme


Day One did not do too well in the ratings. Before they cancelled the program, ABC made one last attempt to save the program. They brought on board star anchor Diane Sawyer. When she debuted on the program, this theme, an update of the first theme, started being used. These slight changes could, however, not increase the ratings. Day One was soon afterward cancelled.

Score Productions - Day One 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. Its newscasts are fed by satellite to more than 2,000 stations across the nation. ABC News actually produces multiple hourly news updates. Talk radio generally uses the extended five minute information newscast while some FM music stations go for the shorter and less substantive newscasts. The latter employs a cold open while the former uses this theme containing the ABC News signature.

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 it is the shortest of the Sunday morning public affairs programs. In its long history, legends such as Howard K. Smith moderated the program. Currently the program is moderated by Bob Schieffer who is one of the few Washington journalists to have covered the White House, Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department (the big four Washington assignments). This theme is composed by Score Productions and lasted until 2002.

Score Productions - Face the Nation theme

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