ASCAP award winning composers Lior Rosner and Scott Icenogle have had incredible success scoring NBC’s revival of Will and Grace, the hit sitcom and ratings juggernaut that has earned numerous Emmys and critical acclaim.

The revival came to a close this year after three successful seasons, and while the series is known for it’s jazzy piano theme and fills, the final season offered Rosner and Icenogle an opportunity to showcase their orchestral writing with the special I Love Lucy featuring classic sketches from the iconic comedy and that mesmerizing opening theme.

Rosner and Icenogle spoke to Awards Focus about the joys and challenges of scoring the episode, the lost sheet music for the original show, and their favorite sketches which we’ve included in the piece.

Watch the entire Will and Grace episode, “We Love Lucy,” at nbc.com.

Awards Focus: How did this special I Love Lucy themed episode of WILL & GRACE come about?

Scott Icenogle: The idea was to do a love letter to I Love Lucy, which we all love. Will & Grace’s creators cite it as one of the biggest influences for them. The hook of the episode was that Jack, Grace, and Karen all thought they were the “Lucy” of the group, which allowed the writers to put each of them into their own iconic Lucy sketches from the original 1950s show.

Musically, we were able to recreate the iconic theme and come up with new variations. The actors felt a lot of pressure to measure up to the mannerisms and comedic style of Lucille Ball, we felt then same pressure with the music.

Sheet music for the "I Love Lucy" tribute episode of WILL AND GRACE
Sheet music for the “I Love Lucy” tribute episode of WILL AND GRACE
(Photo Credit: Rosner Music Inc.)

AF: What was the biggest hurdle for you guys in terms of composing and producing music for this episode?

Lior Rosner: It was actually quite a task to recreate the I Love Lucy music from scratch.  Also, most of the original music charts (sheet music) and manuscripts from the original recordings of the music were lost and were not at our disposal to use or reference. 

So, we had to listen to a number of original episodes of ‘I Love Lucy’ and transcribe the music we heard on the show, by ear, and create all new charts for the original theme for I Love Lucy as well as the song, “I Love Lucy,”, which Desi Arnaz sang in one of the classic episodes.

AF: How did you try and replicate the musical style and sound of I LOVE LUCY?

Icenogle:We did a lot of research, studying still images of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra, which performed all of the music as well as the live performances in I Love Lucy episodes.  We had to figure out how many players there were in the orchestra and how many specific instruments were featured as well. 

The goal was to assemble an orchestra comparable to the Desi Arnaz Orchestra for our Will & Grace recording session. We even tried to locate one of the last living members of The Desi Arnaz Orchestra, but found out the person they had passed away a few years ago.

Icenogle’s favorite sketch:

AF: Tell us about the recording session itself.  It must have been very exciting recording the music of this classic show?

Rosner: Once our orchestra was assembled, we had a three hour recording session at the Capitol Records in Hollywood.  We actually made history by re-recording the themes and “I Love Lucy” song as accurately as it was recorded back in the 1950s. In addition to those two pieces, we also recorded original bumper music for the scene transitions, which were all original compositions that were written and orchestrated to sound as if they had aired originally on I Love Lucy. It was incredibly fun to work in this style of music with such incredible musicians. 

Rosner’s favorite sketch:

AF: Did anyone from the Lucille Ball estate get to hear the music you guys did?

Icenogle: Actually, yes.  One of the most incredible moments of validation for our efforts came when Lior and I were sent a personal note from Lucie Arnaz (Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz’s daughter) who heard our music and cried tears of joy.  She said, “My father would be so incredibly proud right now.” For us, there wasn’t a better compliment we could have received.

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron Burton is the Awards Editor and Chief Critic at Awards Focus and a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Byron is a voting member of the Television Academy, Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Creative Alliance, and the Society of Composers & Lyricists (the SCL) for his work on Marvel's X-Men Apocalypse (2016). Working as a journalist and moderator, Byron hosts Emmy and Oscar panels for the major studios, featuring their Below The Line and Above The Line nominees (in partnership with their respective guilds).

Moderating highlights include Ingle Dodd's "Behind the Slate" Screening Series and their "Spotlight Live" event at the American Legion in Hollywood. Byron covered the six person panel for Universal's "NOPE" as well as panels for Hulu's "Pam & Tommy Lee" and "Welcome to Chippendales" and HBO Max's "Barry" and "Euphoria."

For songwriters and composers, Byron is a frequent moderator for panels with the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) as well as The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, The Witcher & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, & Lovecraft Country; Amazon Studios' The Legend of Vox Machina, Wild Cat, & Annette; and Apple TV+s Ted Lasso, Bad Sisters, and 5 Days at Memorial.

In February of 2020, Byron organized and hosted the Aiding Australia Initiative; launched to assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of Australia's wildlife (an estimated 3 billion animals killed or maimed and a landmass the size of Syria decimated).

Participating talent for Aiding Australia includes Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Josh Brolin, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, JK Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

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