Film-music event scores big laughs

Chris Weitz, Sacha Baron Cohen take part in lively panels

The mood was light and the laughs plentiful as more than 500 attendees gathered Thursday at the Beverly Hilton to discuss the intersection of music and media on Day 1 of the eighth edition of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Film and TV Music Conference.

Composers, publishers, executives and music supervisors participated in a range of panels including a lively conversation with Alexandre Desplat and Chris Weitz, the composer and director, respectively, behind "New Moon," the second installment in the "Twilight" series.

The BMI-sponsored panel examined Desplat's and Weitz's working methods, often generating laughs thanks to the obvious rapport between the two -- including a moment when Weitz lamented not knowing what a major chord is, while Desplat shook his head in mock disbelief.

Moderator Ringer Ross, vp film-TV at BMI, said that given the challenges facing the music industry, the film-music community needs the THR-Billboard conference now more than ever.

"The music business relies on film and TV more these days because traditional forums have trailed off," she said. "The conference provides an opportunity to understand how the industry really works."

Later, an ASCAP-sponsored conversation with Sacha Baron Cohen and his composer brother Erran generated uproarious laughter on several occasions, including a recollection of Sacha's character Bruno recording a song for charity with the likes of Bono, Elton John, Sting and Snoop Dogg.

"Getting Bono is the key," Sacha Baron Cohen said. "Once you get him, everything else falls into place."

The day ended with a meet-and-greet with music supervisors and the workshop "Learn the Biz," where attendees discussed issues facing the industry with composers, executives and music programrs.

Today's conference agenda includes a discussion on how Fox's hit series "Glee" uses licensed music and a keynote panel with Mary J. Blige about her contribution to the soundtrack of Lionsgate's "Precious."