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Smash: Glee + A Chorus Line - McPheever ÷ Spielberg = ?


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#421

txhorns79

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Posted Feb 17, 2012 @ 7:06 PM

However, remember that the show is an ensemble with 8 or so people, with Debra Messing as nominally the star. If McPhee hadn't stood out to the execs or others, they wouldn't have pushed her so much in the promos.

Or she just tested well due to her previous exposure on American Idol, and they thought she would bring in the correct demographics, as opposed to an older actress like Messing, or someone with less national exposure like Hilty, so she was plugged more heavily.
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#422

jtenny123

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Posted Feb 17, 2012 @ 7:51 PM

Lea Michelle would blow me away as Karen.


Yeah, Lea Michelle does annoy me sometimes on Glee with her over-exaggerated facial expressions while singing, but she's far, far more talented an actress than Katherine McPhee and I think having an actress with more of a presence like Lea Michelle would improve the show.
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#423

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Posted Feb 17, 2012 @ 9:54 PM

I absolutely cannot stand the Ellis character, he grates on me so much. First of all, something about his look makes me think he just time traveled into the show from 1994. Maybe it's the hair? The clothes? Secondly, he always has this stupid grin plastered on his face except when he gets all sad panda when has to, you know, do his actual job, as opposed to evesdropping at doors, and gets called out on it. I'm not going to be able to watch a whole season of him lurking in the corners, smiling stupidly at the amazingness of a Broadway show (OMG you're cutting a demo of a song! OMG you're casting the lead role! OMG you're moving index cards around a board!) and I pray that this isn't going where I think it's going, with him suing Tom and Julia for stealing "his idea."
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#424

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Posted Feb 17, 2012 @ 10:57 PM

I, for one, find all the Hilty love mind-boggling, but then I always have. I saw her in both Wicked and 9 to 5. Her voice sets my teeth on edge, and I don't see her as a standout star. Kristen Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Idina Menzel, Kelly O'Hara.... Megan Hilty is a talented, serviceable leading lady, but she's not in that league. I don't see her as this generation's Bernadette Peters. Her voice isn't unique enough, her presence isn't that strong.

McPhee has been a pleasant surprise for me. I didn't expect much, so she's exceeded my expectations.

I came for the singing and dancing. I'm staying for Jack Davenport.
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#425

memememe76

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Posted Feb 18, 2012 @ 1:19 AM

Count me as another non-fan of Hilty. Her song at the end lasted an eternity. That must have been the longest musical montage in TV history.
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#426

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Posted Feb 18, 2012 @ 8:57 AM

I think the fact that Ivy is much more rootable (at least, for me) is not really Katherine McPhee's fault. I agree that while she's perfectly good, she brings nothing special to the role. But the writing does nothing for the character. I just don't feel invested in her character. We know she's a waitress and that she wants to be an actress/singer. But we need to see her wanting it badly, like we do with Ivy.
Does she take singing lessons ? Has she been in productions ? If not, why ? Was it because she needed money and never had the time ?
I need something more than the very cliché "talented waitress who's waiting to be a star". Katherine McPhee may not be the best actress in the world, but I think she'd be better if they gave her something more to work with.
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#427

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Posted Feb 18, 2012 @ 9:40 AM

Elviriel, I think we'll start learning more about the characters' backgrounds as time goes on, so hopefully your questions about Karen will be mostly answered.
I've heard we'll hear more about how Dev and Karen met and got together which hopefully will fill in more of Karen's history

I don't think we really know enough about Ivy yet either. I especially want to know why she's still in the chorus after 10 years.
We'll be meeting Ivy's mom in an upcoming episode and she sounds like a real piece of work

Edited by feverpitch, Feb 18, 2012 @ 9:42 AM.

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#428

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Posted Feb 18, 2012 @ 1:13 PM

Next week's episode sounds dreadful. Read all about it here
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#429

AuroraAustralis

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 1:37 AM

I'm finding McPhee a lot more watchable than Hilty.
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#430

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 2:33 AM

I'm finding Hilty a lot more watchable than McPhee. I think Hilty's character is tougher, smarter, and a hell of a lot more passionate about theatre than Karen.

As for the spoilers, for fuck's sake, why the hell is Karen thinking about leaving? I know that it wouldn't actually happen, but for fuck's sake.

So Karen didn't get the part. It's sad, I know. She worked hard on that number, yadda yadda yadda. But she's a relative newcomer who managed to impress one of the musical's writers, the director, and the head producer enough to be considered for the lead in a musical that's already got quite a lot of buzz. She wasn't on the short list. It literally came down to her and one other performer who was experienced, talented, and well-liked. Karen's got a foot in the door, and potential allies in three very powerful people in the industry. They know her talents, and strengths, and this could be a huge boost to her career as long as she doesn't screw this up.

For fuck's sake.
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#431

OptimisticCynic

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 2:53 AM

So Karen didn't get the part. It's sad, I know. She worked hard on that number, yadda yadda yadda. But she's a relative newcomer who managed to impress one of the musical's writers, the director, and the head producer enough to be considered for the lead in a musical that's already got quite a lot of buzz. She wasn't on the short list. It literally came down to her and one other performer who was experienced, talented, and well-liked. Karen's got a foot in the door, and potential allies in three very powerful people in the industry.


Couldn't agree more. There's a great interview with Bobby Steggert and Nikki M. James talk about fostering relationships no matter what you're doing because you have no idea what future job it might lead to. The story about her getting Book of Mormon is particularly interesting. If Karen was smart, she'd look at this opportunity and see that those relationships (Ivy's with Tom for example) can probably be of use to her in the future, if she took the right attitude. The link is here and they talk about it at around 15 minutes in. http://americantheat...il/actors_08_11

For those interested in Broadway though I'd suggest watching the whole thing because all four participants talk about breaking out in the business and it's interesting to contrast how much they are getting wrong with the Karen character.

Edited by OptimisticCynic, Feb 19, 2012 @ 2:59 AM.

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#432

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 8:34 AM

For those interested in Broadway though I'd suggest watching the whole thing because all four participants talk about breaking out in the business and it's interesting to contrast how much they are getting wrong with the Karen character.

Or maybe Karen as the character is just doing it wrong. Theresa Rebeck did say in an interview they ended up having Ivy get the part because theater in real life wouldn't give it to such a newbie, and she and most of the other producers are theater vets, so I would hope they're writing Karen as so unknowing and clueless on purpose. I think or at least hope that we'll start to learn more about Karen's motivations and her learning that she needs to learn to network and take advantage of contacts. I think her understanding starts to take hold in Episode 4

Lizka said:

I think Hilty's character is tougher, smarter, and a hell of a lot more passionate about theatre than Karen.

I would hope so given Ivy has been in the business for at least 10 years. I think it's also that Karen is a much more quiet person than Ivy. I'm sure this kind of stuff will get fleshed out more as we go along.

ETA:
Lizka, in regards to your lament about Kat hesitating about doing the workshop, I think money is a major factor as I believe we'll see in the next episode.

Edited by feverpitch, Feb 19, 2012 @ 2:43 PM.

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#433

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 3:11 PM

I think the showrunners probably wanted a Jennifer Hudson type moment. (Not literally Jennifer Hudson, obviously, who would've been wrong for this part.) But Hudson was also an also-ran on American Idol, who was doing only middling in her recording career and had no real acting experience before being cast in a screen musical (Dreamgirls) where she was the standout and blew away the more experienced established star (Beyonce). Unfortunately, McPhee is no Jennifer Hudson and I don't think she's capable of an "And I'm Tell You I'm Not Going" moment (though I think they tried and failed with "Beautiful").


I agree with this in that Beautiful didn't even remotely register on that scale (and the climbing kitty arm thing she did was self indulgent, annoying and distracting, not indicative of deep song connection) and that Jennifer Hudson was an Idol also ran.....BUT, Hudson's more the perfect example of what bullshit Idol is and was, in that she frequently received lukewarm praise from the judges (because they wanted Fantasia and Diana DeGarmo to advance) and both she and George Huffs (who suffered from some very bad song choices his last two weeks) went far too early.

Hudson also only languished for 18 months between her Idol boot and getting cast in Dreamgirls. That's a pretty storng trajectory---she's now viewed as the third best/most successful Idol female---behind Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood (and since I don't dig country, I'd rank her over Carrie).

Kat McPhee fared better on Idol (see above) and probably lost to Taylor Hicks because of VFTW. She also benefitted from Idol pimping and the subsequent projects they fed her---and five years later she STILL couldn't really get anywhere BECAUSE she simply isn't that talented. Yet now this show keeps thinking that they can somehow make her happen. Dudes, she's mediocrity and dull defined. Not gonna happen.

I watched the encore last night because nothing else was on---and once again, I was completely bored and underwhelmed. And struck by the twelve billion cliches and anvils. Kat's opening fantasy number was reminiscent of a bad cruiseline act. Let Me Be Your Star seemed even more maudlin and pathetic the second time (so far I pretty much hate their Catskills schmaltz level orignal songs). Huston's drink moment was, yet again, been there, done that, twelve billion times. Debra Messing's letter to the birth mom? Gaggy and pretentious. Hilty is apparently eeeevvvvillll for being happy that poor, poor wonderful Karen isn't dancing well (who wouldn't have been in Ivy's shoes?). I think my fave though was when McPhee's boyfriend was waiting in the restaurant and his host's woman yammered about "how Karen is soooooooo attractive". Funny I thought the actress delivering those lines was much prettier herself.

The entire show is much like McPhee's Idol season, boring, cliched and endless Kat pimping, just BEGGING us to see that Kat McPhee/Karen is the most wonderfulest/specialist/awesomest girl EVER, in every possible way. Problem is...she isn't.
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#434

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 4:33 PM

I watched the encore last night because nothing else was on---and once again, I was completely bored and underwhelmed.


I started to watch it again even though I still had it on my DVR and like you I had the exact same feelings. I didn't make it into 15 minutes the second time around turning it off and then deleting it from my DVR. I want to love this show but it ain't happening. Wonder how the ratings were for the encore?
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#435

Crs97

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 4:54 PM

Dudes, she's mediocrity and dull defined. Not gonna happen.


Definitely a YMMV statement. I watched the DVD of Chris Botti's concert, and she was extremely well received when she sang with him and the Boston Symphony. Considering his other duets included Sting, Yo-Yo Ma, and Josh Groban (to name a few), the fact that she more than held her own said a lot to me about her talent. I never watched Idol so I didn't know anything about her until that night on stage. I agree that her acting could be better, but it's serviceable for now. And I still don't see the need to choose between Team Ivy and Team Karen. I'm happy Ivy won the role, but I didn't feel the need to hate Karen in the process.
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#436

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 5:21 PM

Crs97, this show very much seems a YMMV type of thing. There is such a divide with people, including critics, loving it vs those thinking it's horribly done (though there's a portion that like it but don't love it). Even the critics, who have largely praised the show, are divided in some ways, with many loving McPhee, while some think she's terrible, with the same kind of opinion about Hilty as well. It's such a weird thing to see when that kind of thing happens (ie, it's great! vs it's the worst thing ever!).

I'm thinking part of the reason some people are frustrated with Karen is that we don't have enough of her backstory yet (we have some information on Ivy, but still not that much). However, it's the nature of a series not to give us all the details of a character and their backstory right up front. I'm sure people would have complained that there was too much in the first two episodes if that had happened. Pilots have a difficult enough time as it is in introducing the characters. There's got to be enough material for subsequent episodes and for the characters to get revealed over time.

And Crs, you mention not seeing the need to choose between Team Ivy and Team Karen, but funny enough, according to Rebeck, even the crew was choosing teams while they were making those early episodes.

For the Saturday repeat, Smash got a .4 in the demo and about 2.2 million viewers, but it was also up against a NASCAR race on Fox and it didn't have the Voice as a lead in like the previous Saturday (where it got a .8 in the demo and 2.98 million viewers).

Edited by feverpitch, Feb 19, 2012 @ 5:23 PM.

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#437

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 5:32 PM

about Kat hesitating about doing the workshop, I think money is a major factor as I believe we'll see in the next episode.


A spoiler in that linked to article on Huffpost indicated that Daddykins subsidizes Princess KatKaren, so she should be able to survive on her hot $200 per week workshop pay. Not to mention, many people work a second job to make such things happen

I'm thinking part of the reason some people are frustrated with Karen is that we don't have enough of her backstory yet (we have some information on Ivy, but still not that much).


It's certainly YMMV---but my dislike of Karen/Kat isn't just her rather entitled/pimped princess character (though it doesn't help matters). I'm not impressed (never was) with Kat McPhee, so she annoys me in the role.

I'm also reminded of sitcoms back in the day with Dabney Coleman (who I did like) as "the curmudgeon". And that was the entire premise, networks kept making them and they kept failing. Likewise Christine Ebersole and (later) Rena Sofer (both of whom I was, again, "meh" about). Each time the same dull premise, revolving around one of them, thin and cliched. With again, the network just insisting how they were "stars" and amazing...
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#438

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 7:43 PM

The entire show is much like McPhee's Idol season, boring, cliched and endless Kat pimping, just BEGGING us to see that Kat McPhee/Karen is the most wonderfulest/specialist/awesomest girl EVER, in every possible way. Problem is...she isn't.


zumpee, you just reminded me why I was always irritated by Katharine McPhee on Idol. She had a decent enough voice, but there was just nothing there. She was beautiful, and back then I think they were trying to build her up as some sort of mini-Catherine Zeta Jones glamourpuss, only to realize that if you're gorgeous and make love to the camera as you sing directly into it without showing that you have a personality and flaws and a human soul otherwise, no one is going to buy the hype. There has to be that thing where women either want to be your bestie or want to be you, and guys think you're the perfect girl or the bombshell fantasy. She was none of those things. I didn't even buy her as a "Kat." She always just seemed to try too hard and reveal nothing. There was nothing to make me want to know more about her.

Having said all that, I like her more on this show, and I think she makes a much better girl-next-door than glamour girl or sex kitten, but she still lacks any sort of spark. It's like, she's the ultimate leading lady on paper, but all the parts don't add up onscreen. I wonder if that comes from always wanting to be a star, and trying to figure out how to appeal to the greatest amount of people, rather than just being oneself.

I can't remember who mentioned "Beautiful" being a possible iTunes breakout hit--that's part of what bothered me about the choice. It's like they saw that Glee was pop-ifying everything and making a bank on iTunes, so they decided to work in some pop songs to cover that angle. But it pulls me out of the show everytime Karen sings a pop song, because a) I know what they're doing, and b) she's obviously more of a pop singer than a Broadway singer, and I feel like that would work against her in her situation.
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#439

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 8:47 PM

I'm happy Ivy won the role, but I didn't feel the need to hate Karen in the process.


Yeah, me too.
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#440

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 9:13 PM

I gather the son's speech about the sibling was supposed to be heartfelt. But it reminded me of the monster in the Bugs Bunny cartoon that called him George and promised to love him and hold him and squeeze him....

Edited by Maverick, Feb 19, 2012 @ 9:15 PM.

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#441

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 10:41 PM

I just watched the pilot after reading this whole thread first, which I guess is kind of ass-backwards (actually I had seen about the last third of it already, but it was nice to see what led up to that).

Being a theatre industry insider, after reading this thread I was prepared to hate the show, but I actually wound up not minding most of it. There is certainly some realism sacrificed for the sake of making a more interesting TV show, but that's to be expected. I was not familiar with Katharine McPhee at all, and I didn't think she was bad. It's obvious that they've cast her and Megan Hilty to be two very different types vying for the same role, and so far the contrast seems to be working OK - I can see good and bad points in both choices. Ivy/Megan obviously has more theatre chops, and seems much more skilled, versatile and adaptable. Karen/Kat is much more pop and more raw overall, but I have to say there is something in McPhee's facial structure and look that to me is very Marilyn Monroe, that Hilty doesn't have. I'm not saying that alone is a reason Karen should get the part, especially since it's a stage production about MM and not a film, but right now to me that's her strongest asset, and the one thing that would give her an edge over Ivy.

The two big negatives I had about this episode are:

a) Karen's audition scene. First of all, if they were looking at agent recommendations and experienced actresses for Marilyn, the actresses would have been told how to dress for the audition. Anyone at the level of experience they were presumably looking at wouldn't show up in full Marilyn regalia unless they'd been specifically asked to do so. Which means Karen would have been told to dress up by her agent, so she'd have no excuse for not knowing (unless she has a shitty agent, which is unlikely since she got the audition to begin with). And which also means that the director would have no reason to be annoyed that everyone was in Marilyn costume.

Conversely, if TPTB specifically didn't want actresses to show up dressed as Marilyn, they probably would have told the agents to make sure their clients knew that. So either the waiting room full of costumed Marilyns didn't make sense, or Karen's not knowing she should have come dressed in character didn't make sense. Take your pick.

But as I said, lack of realism is to be expected. But the huge mistake they made in the audition scene, IMO, is that they felt the need to augment Karen's audition with an imaginary band track and fantasy lighting. Thus the big pivotal moment of the first episode - when we should have been allowed to see the magic of someone coming into a rehearsal room with bad lighting and cranky auditioners, singing with only piano accompaniment, and just with talent creating a special moment that blows everyone away - was completely botched.

The way I see it, it means one of two things: either TPTB on the show didn't trust McPhee's talent and the viewers' imaginations enough to film the moment realistically, or they knew McPhee didn't have the goods to sell it and the cheesy fantasy anvils were the only way they could make it work. Either way, it doesn't bode well for the series in the long run.

The other big negative:

b) the horribly clunky expository nature of most of the dialogue. I know it's a pilot and a certain amount of exposition is inevitable, but this was done in a particularly ham-fisted, graceless manner. I think the cliche-ridden scene with Karen, her parents and her boyfriend at dinner was the worst in this regard, but there were plenty of other examples.

What I did like about the pilot was that a lot of the acting was very good. I particularly liked Debra Messing, Christian Borle and Jack Davenport. I'll weigh in on episode two after I've watched it - which the home site for the show doesn't seem to want to let me do at the moment.

Edited by CatsWithAxes, Feb 20, 2012 @ 11:46 AM.

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#442

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Posted Feb 19, 2012 @ 11:06 PM

CatsWithAxes said:

But as I said, lack of realism is to be expected. But the huge mistake they made in the audition scene, IMO, is that they felt the need to augment Karen's audition with an imaginary band track and fantasy lighting. Thus the big moment of the first episode - when we should have been allowed to see the magic of someone coming into a rehearsal room with bad lighting and cranky auditioners, singing with only piano accompaniment, and just with talent creating a special moment that blows everyone away - was completely botched.

I think you're misreading that scene and the intent of the show. I'm not sure you're aware, but when the show goes into fantasy mode during musical sequences, the intent is to either simply see what the characters are seeing as the possible full performance (like with the Baseball number), or to get inside the character's head and show what they're feeling. With Karen's audition, the segue from her real audition to the fantasy sequence was to see what she was thinking and feeling. That's why her boyfriend was in the fantasy silently cheering her on. She was basically trying to gather strength from that as well as showing the PTB what she was capable of and should deserve a chance (at least in her head). In fact, you're going to see that kind of thing with many of the musical sequences going forward.

zumpee, I think your intense dislike of McPhee is totally coloring how you see Karen. It's been 6 years, maybe if you let it go the character won't bother you so much.

Edited by feverpitch, Feb 19, 2012 @ 11:20 PM.

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#443

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Posted Feb 20, 2012 @ 12:22 AM

I particularly liked Debra Messing, Christian Borle and Jack Davenport


Debra Messing and Christian Borle are very convincing as a team and have nice chemistry. I really wish they made the Debra Messing character single and concentrated more on her work relationship with Borle. I also like Jack Davenport and he definitely plays his part well, but I wish the writers didn't make his character into such a perv. I find the actor playing him charismatic and I'd rather they just concentrated on his and Borle's character's history.
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#444

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Posted Feb 20, 2012 @ 1:20 AM

I think you're misreading that scene and the intent of the show. I'm not sure you're aware, but when the show goes into fantasy mode during musical sequences, the intent is to either simply see what the characters are seeing as the possible full performance (like with the Baseball number), or to get inside the character's head and show what they're feeling. With Karen's audition, the segue from her real audition to the fantasy sequence was to see what she was thinking and feeling. That's why her boyfriend was in the fantasy silently cheering her on. She was basically trying to gather strength from that as well as showing the PTB what she was capable of and should deserve a chance (at least in her head).

No, I totally got all of that, and I'm not misreading anything. My point is, from a storytelling point of view it was the wrong way to handle the scene. It told us (hammered us, actually) that we were supposed to think that Karen was great and special, but it didn't show us at all why we should think so, or why the auditioners thought so, and that's what we really needed to be seeing at that point. The scene as it was done was gimmicky and ultimately not effective, IMO.

Edited by CatsWithAxes, Feb 20, 2012 @ 11:51 AM.

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#445

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Posted Feb 20, 2012 @ 7:35 AM

Kat McPhee fared better on Idol (see above) and probably lost to Taylor Hicks because of VFTW.

VFTW = Voting for the winner?? I can make out most abbreviations from context, but this is defeating me, sorry.

I agree that the audition scene was simply not effective. For many reasons. As we saw, either all those hosts of women were off base or Karen was off base. To me it seemed like she didn't put forth any effort. Even the rendition of Beautiful and too pop-y. If the lack of the best was trying to mirror Marilyn, it didn't come across to me. The picture of of Raza Jaffrey in Kat's head was particularly cheesy - the only worst thing I've seen is the beauty shot of Finn Hudson that Rachel Berry (the idiot) is picturing in her mind while singing "My Man".

And thinking it through, CatsWithAxes, the moment might have worked better if it was plainer. I'm reminded of the 2 "auditions" / character introductins that I love. Lea Michele singing On My Own was so simple, with just the piano accompaniment. Of course, the picturisation was not, but the song is so beautiful and she blew me away. And after the hiatus, Jon Groff came to sing "Hello". (I will not kid you, I swooned, and I haven't stopped). Again, nothing overblown, piano (and then those 3 random strings) but it was just the 2 of them singing and it was glorious. My third favourite is April Rhodes's (Kristin Chenoweth singing Maybe This Time) and while it builds to a crescendo even, even that one starts up soft.
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#446

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Posted Feb 20, 2012 @ 9:32 AM

VFTW = Voting for the winner??

Vote for the Worst.
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#447

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Posted Feb 20, 2012 @ 11:10 AM

Vote for the Worst had nothing to do with McPhee losing Idol. The same negatives people feel about Kat in this role (that she's not bad but not great/no there there) were at play during her Idol run in 2006 and put a limit on the amount of fan support she was ever giong to get. And the Soul Patrol thing with Taylor Hicks was a real phenomenon, he was even parodied on SNL. Would Smash be so lucky as to get on their radar.

A lot of meticulous detail has gone into making this show but it also feels sloppy and contrived at certain points. I turned the channel when Karen couldn't take ten seconds to call/text her boyfriend at the restaurant. Technology happened, writers, so please adjust. The adoption storyline is full of holes and Karen blowing away Broadway bigwigs with Beautiful? Come on, now. But I'm interested enough to keep watching for a few more episodes at least.
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#448

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Posted Feb 20, 2012 @ 11:35 AM

On a So You Think You Can Dance note, I also meant to post that I was so delighted to spot Ellenore Scott in the background dancing to the mambo number. (In fact, once I saw her, I only saw her). There was also mention of Spencer Liff, and I saw him when the stage lighting started in the studio. (But I can't for the life of me spot if Ellenore was the girl with the longer hair in the background, once Spencer came in).

I'm also told that Alex Wong was there, but my eyes were not good enough to spot him.

Jess LeProtto is slated to appear and Thayne was in the pilot, it seems.

I hope Smash does well, if only so I can hope Jakob Karr turns up. And maybe if I swear off Pepsi, Coke and Thums UP, Danny Tidwell.
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#449

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Posted Feb 20, 2012 @ 11:53 AM

romantic idiot, Alex Wong was definitely in the pilot. He did an interview last year talking about it. Unfortunately, as you likely know, he tore his Achilles Tendon for the second time sometime afterwards so he likely won't return to the show, assuming he even continues to stay in dance.
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#450

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Posted Feb 20, 2012 @ 11:56 AM

Oh - I'm so sorry to hear that. Do you know exactly when/where he appears? I'd love to watch for him on subsequent rewatches.
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