Heading down the 407 today to talk to my buddies Mark Hebscher and Donna Skelly at CHCH's Live @ 5:30 about this whole Hockey Night in Canada theme song hullabaloo. Seems odd that the CBC would stoop to nickel and diming the composer of this tune when HNiC is by far their biggest moneymaker. Sure, tunesmith Dolores Claman gets a tidy $500 every time the show opens and the orchestral anthem is played. At 50 games that's about $25 grand a year. Not a bad little dividend.
Big whup. The song, as Chris Zelkovich points out on the front page of today's Toronto Star, is recognized nation-wide as Canada's second national anthem. It has opened the show, albeit with different arrangements, every year since 1968. Why screw around with that? Hum along here:
Other shows, such as Saturday Night Live and Coronation Street, have gone decades with the same music. Monday Night Football's distinctive "Heavy Action" theme ("ba-ba-ba-Baaa...") has been summoning men in front of their sets since 1971.
There is more at stake, of course. Claman is suing the CBC for $2.5 million to get her share of revenues from the jingle being sold for cell phone ringtones and other ancillary rights. The writer's Guild should have had Claman's lawyer, although this thing has dragged on for four years.
Still, CBC should know the cost of doing business in TV today. Using The Simpsons as an example again, the five principle voice cast members just settled for a staggering amount of money to stay with that series for a 20th season--$500,000 per episode. At 20 shows, that's a cool $10 million a season. Ay carumba! These guys don't even have to shave or wash their hair.
CBC could settle this right now for what it costs to voice The Simpsons for one episode. As Homer would say, 'D-oh!"
The parties have apparently set 5 p.m. today as the deadline for coming to terms. There is speculation that Claman could shop the song to TSN if CBC passes. At this week's CTV upfront, CEO Ivan Fecan joked that TSN's hockey ratings were doing so well, Wednesday nights would be know as their very own "night for hockey in Canada." You can bet that he'd snap up Claman's tune--it is a bargain compared with what the rights to Hockey Night in Canada would have cost.