The 2023 Guild of Music Supervisors Awards: A Night of a Thousand Hugs
By Ted Reyes
The Neon lights that adorned the art deco-styled Wiltern Theater on Wilshire Avenue in Los Angeles, California, provided a warm glow to an otherwise chilly night. Inside, an even warmer vibe permeated the cavernous lobby of the historic venue– that warmth came from the long embraces of peers who hadn't been in the same room for three long years. For Hollywood's music supervisors, it was long overdue. The pandemic changed everything, including the event that honors the best in their field. However, this night, the 13th Guild of Music Supervisors Awards happened the way it should have.
The in-person event was much-needed for music supervisor Jody Friedman after years of virtual meetings.
"It's remarkable to see how much the Guild of Music Supervisor Awards has grown over the years. I think it's an essential event to celebrate and honor colleagues who have made significant contributions to the field. It's a chance for us to come together and recognize that excellence, which hopefully will, in turn, inspire others to strive for success," Jody said. "It's been a challenging couple of years for everyone, loaded with virtual gatherings, and it's so great to get together and celebrate everyone's success and see friends I had not seen for years.".
APM Account Executive Bailey Garno, a frequent GMS Awards attendee, echoed this sentiment.
"It felt great to be back in person after a multi-year hiatus. The importance of the event and what the Guild does is really felt over the course of that evening, particularly as you look around a packed theater that is booming with excited conversation and beaming faces," Bailey said. "I finally had the opportunity to shake hands and hug a number of clients that I'm emailing on a daily basis but have not met in person yet. It's such a wonderful moment to put a face to the name and then to hear how much you're appreciated and that APM is such a joy to work with. It's really the icing on the cake."
It was the same with APM Music Director Sarah Scarlata, who knew a lot of people in the room.
It felt like a homecoming to be able to catch up face-to-face with everyone in our industry," Sarah said." The energy in the room was electric. You could tell everyone was ready to be back from the 3-year lull!"
Everyone dressed up to the nines. Some rocked their "California Cocktail" attires, while others took it to another level of style with feather boas, tailored suits, and shiny shoes. It was a fashion spectacle that rivaled the best galas Hollywood could offer.
Of course, there were drinks—lots of them. Food was abundant too. Servers went around with trays overflowing with sliders, morsels on sticks, and other delicious treats. There were buffet tables on the upper level, which offered a wide array of snacks, from artisanal cheese platters to fresh fruits to pies and pates.
Downstairs, press members lined up the red carpet and captured the arrivals of the nominees, presenters, performers, distinguished guests, and awardees. It was a cold area since guests came in non-stop from the backdoor, letting the cold draft in. The intense lights along the carpet offered a brief respite, but the immediate warmth of everyone's greetings provided comfort. It was the warming comfort of reunion.
The legendary Paul Williams
Dominican Artist Jarina De Marco
The legendary Paul Williams, the composer of timeless hits such as I Won't Last a Day Without You, We've Only Just Begun, An Old Fashioned Love Song, Rainy Days and Mondays, That's What Friends Are For, and Evergreen entered the red carpet and time grounded to a halt. That's what happens when icons grace events like this. Suddenly, happy and bitter memories conjured by his music emerge, and everyone instinctively bowed to his presence. Greatness had arrived.
Nominees rolled in one by one, stopped for photos, and answered questions from the press. Nora Felder, Jen Malone, Dawn Sutter Madell, Lauren Marie Mikus, Bruce Gilbert, Rob Lowry, Kier Lehman, Adam Brodsky, Rivka Rose, and Anton Monsted are some of the music supervisors that graced the carpet.
As soon as the red carpet wrapped, the ceiling lights started to flicker, signaling the program's start. The Wiltern Theater is enormous. Tables were set up before the stage for the guests and nominees. The rest stayed in the stands.
The show was great. Performances by Macy Gray, Sam DeRosa, Nella Rojas, Joshua Radin, Ruth B, Gaby Moreno, and Joy Oladokun were memorable, and other program segments were equally entertaining.
"Pamela Adlon's presentation was hilarious!" Jody said." Her comedic timing and ability to improvise as she presented to play off the teleprompter were very entertaining."
For Bailey, one moment that stood out was an acceptance speech by Allison Wood.
"My favorite moment was watching Allison Wood accept her award for Best Music Supervision for a Documentary with Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off, Bailey said. "You could tell what the moment meant to her, and I was really touched by her impassioned acceptance speech. With her sisters in the audience screaming their heads off, it really made for a powerful moment at the awards show that illustrates how impactful the Guild is to its members and the community."
For Sarah, seeing the music supervisors that she works with get recognized meant everything. She also enjoyed the performances, especially the one that honored Mr. Williams.
"The 2023 GMS Awards was a fun celebration of the indelible impact music supervision and songwriting has on media," Sarah said. "My favorite moments of the ceremony were seeing music supervisors, who we work with on almost a daily basis, being rewarded for all of the hard work they put into their projects. I also enjoyed seeing the medley of Paul Williams' decades-long legacy of work being celebrated."
After two and a half hours, the show finally concluded. The guild successfully gathered its flock and honored their best. Soon, the majestic Wiltern dimmed its lights and emptied its premises, but it was not the end. The warmth of camaraderie was still going like embers in a bonfire that refused to extinguish. Hence, all roads go to the after-show meetings that would further solidify the strength of the guild and the future of the trade.