Seasoned Music Supervisor Tony Von Pervieux has picked up his first Emmy nomination, for his spectacular work on Ted Lasso. It’s the final episode of Season Three that earned him the mention, one which includes a memorable on-screen performance that features as a symbolic goodbye for the show that appears to have ended.
Below the Line spoke to Von Pervieux about his work with fellow Music Supervisor Christa Miller and Executive Producer Bill Lawrence, and about how he’s also worked with the married couple on their latest Apple TV+ series, Shrinking. He reflected on the benefits of being on a popular series, where artists are more likely to agree to have their music used because they know and like the show.
Von Pervieux also shared thoughts on his many years in the industry and how things have changed, including the ability for shows to potentially last longer due to real-time ratings data. He noted that his experience has better enabled him to fix problems and clear music quickly, which is important for a show that uses so many memorable songs to great effect.
Below The Line: How did you first come to work on Ted Lasso as a music supervisor?
Tony Von Pervieux: Through Bill Lawrence. Typically, through TV, a lot of us develop relationships over the years with producers. I’ve known Bill and Christa for quite some time working at ABC Studios as an executive, and then, when I left ABC studios to do things on my own, I ended up continuing to work with Bill on all his shows. This opportunity presented itself in 2019 and of course I was going to absolutely do it with him even not knowing where it would go. Because you never know in the beginning if the show is going to be successful or not, but obviously, reading the scripts, you knew it was very well written.
BTL: What is your collaboration like with Christa Miller on the show?
Von Pervieux: She’s got a great ear. We listen to each other when we’re bouncing ideas off for potential song choices. In the beginning, when you’re first working on the first season of the show, you’re just figuring it out. A lot of that process was done working with Jason Sudeikis, who’s the key driver on every aspect of the show. Getting to work with him and figuring out the tone of the show was the most important thing early on.
BTL: Would you say his involvement is typical for a showrunner?
Von Pervieux: Yeah, I would say so. The thing is, sometimes you have one person making decisions, and then you have a show that has many producers making decisions, or at least have an influence on the show. I think a lot of the producers on this show had a voice, because he’s open to all of it. But at the end of the day, the final decision was up to him on what song choices were and would stick as we went through the process and worked with the editors and temped music in. If it was scripted, it came from him or Joe Kelly or Brendan Hunt. If it’s something that was scripted, I would just stick with their choice, because that was their vision, and then I would go after clearing the songs.
BTL: There are some pretty big music moments in season three. Are there any that stand out to you that you most enjoy talking about?
Von Pervieux: My gosh. Yeah, a lot. We obviously use a lot of music on the show, a lot of big catalogs and everything. For me, the original songs were huge. During and at the end of season two, while we were still transitioning through that pandemic, you know, that whole thing, I really wanted to do an original song at some point in season three. So talking to the producers and figuring out whether they were interested or not was the first answer I needed to get. And once I found that out, then it was a matter of well, who do we go to? For me, the original songs really stand out because it took such a lengthy process to make these songs happen, and then, at the end it’s really up to figuring out where they go. Jason found a spot for the Ed Sheeran song and basically had it be pretty magical, and then of course the Sam Ryder song with Tom, that thing came about. We found the spot with the editors on that one and Tom was able to weave it in with the score and just make it exceptional.
Those really stand out, but also the Hey Jude. The visual vocals are always key for me. Hey Jude was scripted and such a magical moment, but I had to find the busker, so Alex Vargas got to find him through a pool of people out of the UK and the producers went with him. And Three Little Birds, Bob Marley, that was a fun episode because we were bookending the song, the stadium at the top and then at the end with Hannah Waddingham singing the best version of any song that she touches. So that was pretty awesome to see that come to fruition. Then there’s the Brandi Carlile cover. That was pretty awesome. For me, they’re all my babies, so it’s really tough to pick any of them specifically, but everyone has a different opinion about what song is the best and works great. I love to hear other people’s opinions as well, but they all just seem to do what they need to do and enhance the show as much as it could.
BTL: There’s also that So Long, Farewell performance, which is a little unusual for this show, certainly, but a fun way to say goodbye.
Von Pervieux: Yeah, unusual, but not, because of their love of musicals and the hints that we always continuously drop, especially from those musicals. It was always like, every episode, I felt like I was clearing a line from a musical or something. Or they had some reference to a musical in there that didn’t need a musical clearance. That was a big moment and, obviously, Tom was a big driver for that and making that work and getting that to sound really good. The actors, some of them can probably sing, and most of them probably cannot. I’m sure it’s challenging, but I got to work with Tom on that, and it was a really fun experience.
BTL: Is the clearance and rights process ever challenging, where you hit roadblocks at certain points, or it’s all pretty standard?
Von Pervieux: Challenging, yeah. When we get into season two and three and everyone realizes what the show is and how good it is, that makes it typically a little easier to clear certain songs that might be a little bit more challenging. Season one was a little bit difficult. The Let It Go was a huge ask and a challenge for me, and it was initially denied and I got it reversed so that Disney would say okay and let us keep that use with Rebecca singing that. It did get a little easier as people were aware of the quality of the show and that we never intended to make fun of their music in any way or any derogatory use of it. But then there are still challenges of songs that sometimes you don’t necessarily think there would be a challenge, but maybe the writer or artist doesn’t know the show or doesn’t watch TV. There are a lot of them that don’t care, typically. Sometimes they’re just super picky and either it’s a money issue at that point or maybe it’s a creative issue. It can be challenging every once in a while, and then, in those instances, you just have to really just figure out, okay, well, is it worth it for us to go after and, if it is, then I do my best to try and secure that license and make sure that we get what we need out of it.
BTL: I would ask you if you’re considering working with Bill and Christa again, but I know the answer to that question, which is that you’re already doing that. Are things substantially different on a show like Shrinking, which I feel like doesn’t have the same kind of uphill battle as Ted Lasso because Ted Lasso exists, but it still hasn’t caught on quite as much.
Von Pervieux: It’s an exceptional show as well. It’s very well-written and executed, and the actors are obviously phenomenal. Bill is such a great showrunner and executive producer. And Christa, we used a lot of different types of songs in this so we get to go a little bit more indie. Budget-wise, we have a little bit less than Ted Lasso. It’s more of a half-hour show than forty-five minutes to an hour, sometimes on the lengthier episodes of Lasso. Typically, we get to use some more indie stuff, and every once in a while we mix in a Billy Joel or somebody who’s going to cost me a little bit more money, but the process is still the same. We’re just trying to find the best music possible for that show and trying to figure out the tone early on. And I think we did a pretty good job making sure that was something that was going to help sell that show musically.
BTL: You’ve been working in the industry for a while now. How have things changed in terms of how music supervision works?
Von Pervieux: Back in the day, the rights were different. Now, we just go after worldwide rights for everything, which is important. It’s a good gamble, I guess, for studios back in the day. It’s like, well, let’s clear for one year rights. Well, good news is, you may pay less right up front, so the gamble is, you’ll pay less and then if the show is successful, we’ll broaden those rights for maybe perpetuity or something. But the idea now is just, let’s clear worldwide rights, perpetuity. If the show is successful then we just keep forging you forward. Creatively hasn’t changed. Obviously, music has changed over the years, so there are a lot of different styles of music. Hip-hop is very different from what it was when I started out. And ideally, when I’m still just sifting through all music, it’s just based on the project and looking for the best possible choices, whether it’s current music, whether it’s music from the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties especially, because that’s one of my favorite eras of music.
The only thing that’s really changed is that there are obviously a lot more projects and a lot more supervisors now. It’s more of a known profession. People, they think it’s great, you get to listen to music all day and you get to put your songs in shows, but it’s definitely much more than that, and a lot more detailed. You have to be in the business and work in it for a while to really understand how it all works, and also develop the relationships so that you can get these songs cleared quickly. And have people respect you so that if there’s an issue that comes up, you can get it resolved. I think the experience of working the past eighteen, nineteen, twenty years, whatever, it’s helped me develop all those relationships. Costs have gone up, so songs I pay a lot more for now than I did in the past. Just a few differences, but nothing substantial.
BTL: And not all of your projects have been quite as popular as something like Ted Lasso. Is there anything that you look back on and very fondly remember that other people should seek out for its quality and music choices?
Von Pervieux: The interesting thing is, I’ve gotten to work, especially with Bill, on a lot of mainstream-type shows. There are some supervisors who work on a lot of indie projects or indie shows that are really not as mainstream, but you get a lot of flexibility on music choices and budgets with the mainstream projects that I do. But yeah, a couple shows. Whiskey Cavalier was fun. It lasted one season, and that’s just unfortunate for the show, being on a network, living by the black box ratings. If it didn’t make it after like six episodes, it’s canceled. And that’s unfortunate, whereas in the streamers, they obviously have all that data and they know exactly how many people are streaming and how often. So it’s kind of cool just to see how that’s changed and progressed. I’m sure there are a lot of shows that should have been successful and that maybe could have been on a streamer, but short-lived on a network. Definitely, I loved working on Shrinking and Ted Lasso, and who knows that that will ever come back in some form. It’s just been a pleasure working on these TV shows that get recognized.
All episodes of Ted Lasso are available to stream on Apple TV+.