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(Soundbite of "The Incredibles" theme music)

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Millions of people around the world heard this jazzy theme music to last year's animated film hit "The Incredibles." The composer is Michael Giacchino. He also writes the music for "Alias" and "Lost." Those are two popular ABC television shows that have their season finales tonight. Gene Parrish visited Giacchino in his studios and produced this profile.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. MICHAEL GIACCHINO (Hollywood Composer): Hey, Tim, do we have the violins--do we have them soar to add bars one--in bar one there?

GENE PARRISH reporting:

That's composer Michael Giacchino conferring with conductor Tim Simonec during a recent recording session. Before breaking into television and film, Giacchino was creating music for popular video games such as The Lost World and Medal of Honor, using live musicians. Four years ago, J.J. Abrams contacted Giacchino about writing the music for an adventure show he was creating called "Alias."

Mr. GIACCHINO: I had never worked on a television series before, but the thing that I remember is that J.J. and I just got along instantly. You know, he loved everything that I loved as far as music goes and what that meant to movies and, in particular, what live music meant to movies and television.

PARRISH: A few years later, Abrams turned to Giacchino again to score the drama "Lost," the story of survivors of a plane crash on a remote and mysterious island. Bryan Burk is an executive producer for "Alias" and co-producer for "Lost." He says the two shows have very different musical requirements.

Mr. BRYAN BURK (Executive Producer, "Alias"; Co-producer, "Lost"): What's exciting about "Alias" is that we're able to combine a lot of score with songs, and every episode has, you know, usually no less than two songs. And emotionally, we're able to get to the core of Sydney's trials and tribulations.

(Soundbite of "Alias"; music)

Ms. JENNIFER GARNER: (As Sydney Anne Bristow) Hold it! Drop the gun and turn around.

PARRISH: In "Alias," Emmy-nominated actress Jennifer Garner plays CIA double agent Sydney Bristow, who finds herself in all kinds of hot water each week. Here she is in action.

(Soundbite of "Alias"; music)

Ms. GARNER: (As Sydney Anne Bristow) Put the gun down.

Unidentified Man: Markovic's men are on their way here.

Ms. GARNER: Drop it, or I'll shoot.

Unidentified Man: We have to trust each other.

PARRISH: Again, Bryan Burk.

Mr. BURK: And on "Lost," it's a lot less song and a lot more score.

(Soundbite of music from "Lost")

PARRISH: Bryan Burk says during the first season of "Lost," themes have evolved for both the characters and the island itself.

Mr. BURK: Ultimately, there's this weird musical tapestry that has been created by Michael that has not only aided the show but kind of given it its own life.

(Soundbite of music from "Lost")

PARRISH: J.J. Abrams, creator of both "Alias" and "Lost," is fully committed to the extensive use of live orchestras and to the musical talents of Michael Giacchino.

Mr. J.J. ABRAMS: (Creator, "Alias" and "Lost"): I made him promise, when we were first doing the "Alias" pilot, that he would do everything that I ever did, and so he said he would. And so, though I didn't get it in writing, I plan to.

PARRISH: Since his composing career began, Michael Giacchino has been a crusader for live music. When he was growing up, it was far more common to hear orchestral scores on TV shows. He says kids today are largely missing out.

Mr. GIACCHINO: They certainly don't have it at home when they're watching TV, because everything is synthesized. And if we can maybe expose people to this somehow, subliminally, however, that's what I want to do is just try and get it back into people's heads again that live music is an important thing.

PARRISH: ABC has recently announced its fall schedule. "Lost" will be going into its second season, and "Alias" its fifth. Michael Giacchino will continue to score them. And among his upcoming projects for the big screen is the third installment of the "Mission: Impossible" series. For NPR News, this is Gene Parrish.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: More to come on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.

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