The Next Best Thing (2000)
Lakeshore Entertainment Corp. and Paramount Pictures
Directed by John Schlesinger
Starring Starring Madonna and Rupert Everett
Abbie, tired of failed relationships, has a one-night-stand with her gay friend; they agree to raise the resulting baby together.
Merv's Role: Musical Director
I was hired as the Musical Director for the funeral scene in The Next Best Thing, in which the friends of the deceased (Madonna, Rupert Everett, Neil Patrick Harris, Glenn Sakazian, et al) sing “American Pie” a capella.
The performance was supposed to be very “loose” and needed to appear “spontaneous.” But when filming multiple takes of a scene, it’s important for the tempo and pitch to be the same in each take, so they match when edited together later. So, for each take, I blew the pitch on a pitch pipe, and I conducted the actors from a position off-camera.