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Binghamton grad up for a “Technical Emmy” September 12

By : Ingrid Husisian

Micha Liberman was nominated July 15 for an Emmy award for musical editing on the HBO series Deadwood.
Amid the tuxedos, diamonds and red carpet haute couture on display at the 56th Annual Emmy Awards, this year a Binghamton University alumnus with Harpur College roots will filter onto the scene.

Micha Liberman ’95 finds himself one step from the highest accolade in his chosen field with his nomination on July 15 for an Emmy award for his musical editing on the HBO original series Deadwood. The series is based on a community of outlaws in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1876.

Liberman will attend the Creative Arts, Engineering and Interactive Television Awards, known in the industry during the “Technical Emmys” on September 12. Clips of the ceremony will be broadcast at the prime time Emmy Awards September 19.

If fortunate enough to take home coveted Emmy hardware, Liberman will join Rocco Passionino ’91 as another BU grad receiving such high recognition.

Passionino, a 1987 Vestal High graduate, won his Emmy in 2003 for Best Visual Effects in a Television Series for Firefly, a one-season science fiction program on the Fox network. His award was for work done on the show’s pilot episode called “Serenity.”

Passionino earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Watson School.

Liberman’s road to success was one of creativity and persistence. Born in Israel and raised in Texas, he moved to Los Angeles to find a job in music after graduation.

Necessity called and he began his California career as an AT&T telemarketer, working 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then he’d trek across L.A. where he toiled as a non-paid intern for film composer Hans Zimmer.

“My theory was that if you’re in the right place at the right time, the opportunity would come along, so I tried to be in the right place as much as possible,” Liberman said.

Unfortunately, he said, most of the internship was spent “washing dishes and sweeping cigarette butts out of the parking lot.”

Then a phone company co-worker told Liberman that David Schwartz, composer for several TV shows including Northern Exposure, was looking for an apprentice The colleague promised to get Schwartz’s number. But Liberman couldn’t wait. “I opened the phone book and started calling every David Schwartz,” he said.

Dialing up just his fifth David Schwartz, Liberman hit pay dirt. The composer was so taken with Liberman’s moxie, he hired him after one interview.

“The next thing I know, I’m working on network television shows,” Liberman said. “This was only four months after coming to L.A. I went from a job that I hated to a better one than I could imagine.

“For me,” Liberman said, “I’m still on my way up as a composer, but music editing ‘hit.’”

Liberman went on to work for composer Jonathan Wolff, the “king of sitcoms,” who, at the time, was scoring the music for Seinfeld. A few years later, he took a job with composer John Frizzell, where he worked on the film I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, and on the TV show King of the Hill.

In 2001, Liberman made a bold move, starting a studio of his own. Tough at times — “I did some films you’ve never heard of,” he said — he eventually became the music editor for the CBS drama The Education of Max Bickford, starring Richard Dreyfus.

Despite the show’s short run, it helped promote Liberman’s talent among industry insiders and he landed the job as Deadwood’s music editor.

Liberman credits the music faculty at Harpur College for giving him the skills that helped him get ahead in such a competitive industry, recalling what he learned from them: Timothy Perry, orchestra; Bruce Borton, conducting; Jonathan Biggers, musicianship; Dan Fabricius, percussion; Al Hamme, musical arrangement. But most significant to him was Colleen Reardon, history of music.

“She was like a light,” Liberman said of Reardon. “She made it fun.” His Binghamton experience is paramount, he said.

“Binghamton gave me confidence, and confidence is really big in Hollywood,” he said. “If you don’t believe you can do it, then no one can believe you can do it, and you’ll never get hired.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08