Thursday, March 21, 2013

Smash 207: Musical Chairs

One of the more exciting scenes on this week's Smash
Did I call it or what? Karen has followed Derek out of Bombshell and into Hit List. Liaisons has closed and Ivy is now free to take over Marilyn. Hit List has a berth Off-Broadway. Jerry is out of the picture (OK, I didn't predict that last one, but still, pretty good, huh?)

The only question now is how are they going to stretch the story out and create conflict for another ten episodes. Yes, America, ten freakin' episodes are left of Smash's sorry existence. Despite winning a GLAAD Media Award for Best Drama Series last week, NBC announced the show will be transferred from Tuesday nights to Saturdays, the traditional hospice for dying TV programs. As if to offer morphine to the expiring patient, the Peacock Network did say it would air all 17 episodes of this, the series' second season.

This week's episode was basically one for tying up loose ends, kind of like Friday on a soap opera. Hit List had a run-through at the Manhattan Theatre Workshop's 80-seat studio space with Jimmy and Karen's roommate as the leads. Even though we only got to see a few seconds of her and I still can't remember the character's name, I'd rather have her than Karen in this or any other show. Scott, the artistic director (Jesse L. Martin), offers belligerent Jimmy and trembling-lipped Kyle a slot in the tiny space. Charming Derek demands they get the main stage. He may have left Broadway but he's not about the start staging shows in a shoebox. (Love these writers.) Derek further ingratiates himself with the MTW's staff by barking at the lighting designer to get him some coffee and giving the stink-eye to a bunch of schoolchildren who have magically appeared.

Scott takes Derek and the authors into his office, adorned with posters for Rent, which did start at New York Theatre Workshop. He explains Hit List's theme isn't clear (neither is the plot, music, lyrics, characters, etc.) and will confuse his subscribers who are over 40 and have an IQ above 12. If they can make their theme cleaner in a few days, he'll see about the main stage, but in the meantime, it's the 80-seat space. As Derek and the authors argue on West Fourth Street in front of the real NYTW, Jimmy is too lazy to work on changes and is willing to take the small studio run. For once, I agree with him.

Meanwhile back at Bombshell, Tom has taken over the direction and Jerry doesn't cotton to his re-doing Derek's choreography. Wait a minute, Derek's a director AND a choreographer all of a sudden? First of all Jack Davenport, the actor who plays Derek, does not move like a dancer. Secondly, all last season there was another guy staging all the dance steps, wasn't there? Anyway, Derek, who is now this generation's Bob Fosse--he even compares himself to the Tony-Oscar-Emmy winner--hasn't signed over the rights to his dances and Jerry sees this as the opportunity to get him back.

Liaisons is about to open and Ivy is still miserable even though she's the best thing in it. She suggests to the star Terry that he sabotage his own show and put back in the sheep and stupid hijinks she told him to cut during rehearsal so they can all be unemployed and happy. Makes sense. In the Smash world, nobody needs a paycheck.

Julia brings Derek the choreography release contracts--don't they have personal assistants to do this shit? Oh yeah, Ellis is the only one in the city and he took Jerry's money and disappeared. Anyway, she just happens to run into Scott and evidently they have a past. Damn, this Julia gets around. First it was the leading man in Bombshell, then Peter the hot dramaturge, and now Scott the artistic director. Now wonder Brian d'Arcy James divorced her.

In dropping off the contracts, Derek mentions that if Julia's so happy with Tom as the director, why did she allow the part about Marilyn's mother to be cut from the show. WHOA! Marilyn's mother, where they hell did that come from? Also it's revealed part of the book and lyrics are from Marilyn's poetry and diaries--where did those come from? I don't remember any of that stuff being in the show, in the workshop, the Boston version, or the new improved, Peter-approved edition they worked on in the Berkshires. And isn't the version Julia loves so much about the men in Marilyn's life? Now she says the mother is the key to the whole show? Like I said a few blogs ago, Bombshell has gone through more changes than Follies and I don't know which rewrite we're on now.

Everybody winds up at the opening of Liaisons where Terry abuses Kathy Fitzgerald (from 9 to 5) onstage by slapping her breasts, evidently this is an improvisation in the spirit of having fun. In the real world, she'd have him up on charges before Equity before you could post a closing notice. That happens with the dreadful production shuttering, but not before Karen quits a major Broadway production in order to do a Rent rip-off by two nobodies. Also Mamie Gummer as Jerry and Eileen's daughter manipulates her father to give up he rights to Bombshell to Eileen. ("I'll never speak to you again, Daddy, unless you give up a show worth several million dollars to Mommy.") It's got something to do with the rights from the Monroe estate and 20 percent and closing down the show and I don't know what's going on.

We end with a new Hit List number, staged by the brilliant choreographer Derek with the two leads stepping around two huge video screens which show more life than either of them. Scott, the AD for MTW, is so impressed he gives the show a run on the mainstage. It's all about transformation now! I still don't know what Kyle does if there's no book and it's all singing. BTW, seasons are planned way in advance, so the only way a work-in-progress like Hit List would even get into the small studio would be if something else dropped out.

Just to keep the tension going, Derek warns Jimmy to keep away from Karen, cause he's the big dog on this show. Got that, pal? Oh and we still don't know about that crackhouse from five or six episodes ago. Maybe there'll be a big drug arrest on opening night of Hit List and they'll have to cancel (I hope, I hope.)

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