Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The SMASH Reality Index Season 2 Episode 8

If you're looking for this week's SMASH Reality Index, you can find it here on He was nice enough to write it while I was at a Passover seder. I was conflicted between choosing SMASH or seder, but a wise man once told me that without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Three Things Missing From the Les Misérables Blu-Ray Combo Pack

Special Features = More Eddie Redmayne!
Today, the Blu-ray combo pack of Les Misérables was released, which includes a Blu-ray, a DVD, a digital copy, and tons of special features. There are featurettes on the cast singing live, how the battle at the barricade scene was shot, a look at Victor Hugo's novel, and more, as well as feature commentary from director Tom Hooper. There is some fun trivia to be learned. Did you know Hugh Jackman did his one-man show Back on Broadway in part to train for the singing he'd have to do in the film? But I have a few suggestions for special features that would have made the combo pack even better. Maybe on the 10th anniversary edition.

1) Karaoke version: Now I know you can just turn on closed captioning and do it yourself, but it was a missed opportunity to not include a sing-along version. Most Les Misérables fans know the score by heart, obviously, but the cut and changed lyrics (Tom Hooper explains some of these changes on the commentary) can trip us up.

2) Actors' commentary: There is audio commentary from director Tom Hooper, but it would be nice to have another track with the actors. Or at least the boys on the barricade. One of my favorite special features on any DVD is the kids' commentary on The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Don't tell me you wouldn't want to hear commentary from the adorable Daniel Huttlestone, who plays Gavroche.

3) Blooper real: I mean, come on.

Hands On A Hardbody Doesn't Play It Safe

Photo credit: Chad Batka
A musical about a contest in which the contestants can't take their hands off a truck. You have to applaud the creative time of Hands on a Hardbody for tackling a subject inherently difficult to musicalize. Though the show is not without its faults, it's a relief to see a musical that doesn't play it safe on Broadway.

Hands on a Hardbody, which opened last night at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, is based on a 1997 documentary about an endurance competition at a Nissan dealership in Plainview, Texas. The stakes may not seem high, but for the contestants, the truck could mean anything from getting out of the town to supporting a family. Doug Wright's book does a good job of giving us glimpses into the lives of these people, but too much time is spent with the car dealers, who are counting on the publicity to increase sales. It takes away from the momentum of the contest.

The music by Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green is not very memorable (what does it say that while trying to remember songs to write this review, I keep singing, "I really need this truck. Please God I need this truck. I've got to get this truck"?) and the lyrics by Green are often pedestrian. But then there are moments of brilliance, as in the highlight of the show, a number called "Joy of the Lord" in which the cast turns the truck into an instrument (think "Trashing The Camp" in Tarzan). Sergio Trujillo's choreography is inventive in the way contestants are able to move while keeping their hands on the truck, though I could have done without the dream-like moments when contestants take their hands off the truck. It seems like cheating.

The show also benefits from a first-rate cast. Jay Armstrong Johnson (Greg Wilhote), who I've been singing the praises of for years, and Allison Case (Kelli Mangrum) inject some welcome youthful energy and have sweet chemistry in their duet "I'm Gone." Hunter Foster balances confidence and pain as returning champion Benny Perkins. Keith Carradine gives an understated performance as the oldest contestant, JD Drew. And Keala Settle is a welcome discovery as Norma Valverde, whose laughter in one scene infects the characters and the audience. If only that elation wasn't so fleeting.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The SMASH Reality Index Season 2 Episode 7

Fun fact: Ivy wasn't in this scene in the actual episode, so you're kind of seeing a deleted scene. Ooooooh.

Back by popular demand, Dave (@NineDaves) and I have teamed up to bring you our take on what’s keepin’ it real and what’s faking it each week on SMASH. Follow the 'caps here or on Dave's site.

If you can, SMASH fans, set your mind back to last season. We know - the memory can be painful, thinking about those bowling alley/karaoke bar/Times Square musical numbers that came out of nowhere. But don’t think about those. Don’t think about Ellis either. Or Dev. Ignore the pill-popping Ivy Lynn, too. And Rebecca Duvall. Cut through all of that and really think about the central conflict in the show. “Let Me Be Your Star.” Team Ivy vs. Team Karen. It was all about one thing:

“Who should play Marilyn Monroe in the Marilyn Monroe musical?”

That’s it. That’s your central arc. The experienced Ivy Lynn or the novice Karen Cartwright? That’s the question SMASH spent an entire season asking. And, by the last episode, finally answered. Karen was picked to play Marilyn. Game, set, match.

Well, somewhere between the end of season 1 and the beginning of season 2, new showrunner Josh Safran realized Karen was the total wrong decision (duh). And to change that, he and his writing staff spent the past seven episodes erasing all of season 1’s work. The back and forth debates between the creative team? All of Karen’s lamesauce whining and Ivy’s “I just wish I could play Marilyn” pining? Gone. Donezo. No more.

“I’m not your Marilyn,” Karen told Tom. “[Ivy] is.” And then she quit Bombshell. And Tom cast Ivy as Marilyn. And Eileen and Julia celebrated with champagne. And Derek, who fought for Bombshell with Karen as the lead, signed away his work on Bombshell and explained he was “never going back.”

Hope you weren’t too attached!

Don’t get it twisted - it’s not that we don’t like change. We love that SMASH cut back on some of the ridiculousness of season 1. But to totally pretend that the main conflict from season 1 wasn’t even a conflict? Not cool, SMASH. Not cool.

Oh, and if you have a television show that’s a musical drama about the staging of a Broadway musical drama, try putting more than two musical performances in your goddamn episode. And put one in earlier than 40 minutes into the episode, dammit!

Those annoyances, and more, are all here in this week’s SMASH Reality Index

Totally True
• Because Karen can’t be in Hit List anymore, she’s replaced by Ana. Plus 20 because they should have replaced Katherine McPhee with Krysta Rodriguez at the start of season 2.
• “We sorta get our own coffee around here,” Blake the lighting designer tells Derek over at Hit List rehearsals. IT’S SO TOUGH DOWNTOWN!
• Kyle hits on Blake, saying, “I will gladly get you coffee any time.” We don’t really blame him. Blake is cute.
• Meanwhile, over at the Bombshell rehearsals, Tom is ordering up a grande mocha chai something or other from his assistant with ease. Plus 50 because we’d serve Christian Borle anything he wanted.
• And over at Liaisons rehearsals, the director is finally giving the actors notes. It’s about time!
• “You’re like the Terry whisperer,” Veanne Cox’s character tells Ivy at rehearsal. Plus 20. Maybe we should start a new feature: the Veanne Cox line of the week?
• Back at Bombshell, annoying Karen is being annoying Karen and arguing with Tom over every one of his directing choices. Plus 10 because she suuuuuuuuucks.
• Bobby and Jessica are gossiping about Tom’s directing mistakes. They’re like a modern day Thomas and O’Brien! #DowntonAbbey
• IT’S TIME FOR THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK: “Tom, the new choreographer has a question. Let’s set up for ‘National Pastime’” WE LOVE YOU ANN!
• Bombshell’s had to hire a new choreographer because Derek choreographed the show the first time around and they fear he won’t sign a contract letting them use his original work. Plus 20 because finally a real problem!
• Jerry hates the new choreography. We do too. What is happening, SMASH? We’re agreeing with the villain of the piece? Help!
• Julia thinks the show is fantastic, even though they’re not using the book she likes. Normally we’d balk at how quickly she sold out, but we think this storyline isn’t over. Also, we like that the only reason she seems happy about the show now is because Tom’s the director. That’s sooooooo Julia.
• “Let me be you.” Tom says, jumping up and showing Karen how to be sexy. Plus 100 because even though it’s bad directing, Karen needs the help.
• Plus 100 for the Rent poster in Tom Collins’s Jesse L. Martin’s Scott’s office.
• Scott tells Derek, Kyle, and Jimmy that Hit List is “fresh, young and vibrant but it doesn’t have more of a theme.” Looks like he’s been reading The SMASH Reality Index! We’ve been complaining about that for weeks!
• “If our older members can’t relate to the subject matter, we have a hard time getting them to renew,” Scott tells Kyle, Jimmy, and Derek. “As a non-profit, we need our subscribers around.” This is, unfortunately, true, and the reason Roundabout does so many boring revivals.
• Derek and Jimmy agree on something. It’s technically disagreeing with Kyle, but hey - we’ll take it.
• Derek, Kyle, and Jimmy walk out of the fictional Manhattan Theatre Workshop, which is apparently on the same block as the New York Theatre Workshop. Plus 100 because at least they’re being consistent!
• “Rent had a narrator after it’s workshop and it got to Broadway,” Derek says.
• We didn’t know that, but we’ll believe Derek because we’re too lazy to look it up.
• “I’ve got comps for the opening night of Liaisons,” Derek tells Kyle and Jimmy. “And since that’s a small chamber piece that apparently completely reinvented itself as a big musical without changing a word, I would say it’s mandatory viewing, wouldn’t you?” Plus 100 because we’d totally be there.
• Sean Hayes is back performing at the Broadway Theatre. Sure, it’s really Terrence Falls in Liaisons, but dammit that’s good enough for us. Who knows - maybe if we watch long enough, he’ll strap on a guitar and start singing “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” from Promises, Promises. Paging Kristin Chenoweth!
• Karen tells Derek she’s “confused” working on Bombshell now. Plus 10 because we’re confused why she was ever working on Bombshell too.
• “Did you really think you weren’t going to have to rewrite anything?” Karen asks Jimmy, actually making sense. Oh man, first we’re agreeing with Jerry, and now this? Help again!
• “Sometimes the work gets better...” Karen tells Jimmy, referring to rewrites. “And sometimes it doesn’t,” Jimmy responds, referring to SMASH season 2.
• Julia runs into Scott and the sexual chemistry is palpable. Plus 50 because between Scott and Peter, Julia is definitely down with the swirl. We never thought she had it in her!
• “You were never going to leave Broadway for some East Village basement,” Ana tells Karen. Duh Ana. Though... perhaps you can explain why this is a plot point then?
• “I’m sure you were better in it,” Karen tells Ana, of Hit List. “Well that’s true,” Ana responds. Plus 100.
• “Ivy, I’ve been on the boards all day long. BroadwayWorld. All That Chat. TheaterMania,” Terry tells Ivy. We won’t deduct points for the fact that TheaterMania doesn’t have message boards because we love this line so much. And we know actors read the boards even though they say they don’t.
• Terrence then says, “Did you know our show is ‘meh?’ The only thing they seem to like it you!” That’s soooo All That Chat. Plus 50.
• “I wish I could get out of this show,” Ivy confesses to Terrence. “I really hate it. There’s just something better for me out there!” Do you think this is how Norbert Leo Butz felt about Dead Accounts?
• “If we’re going to go down, let’s go down in a blaze of glory,” Ivy tells Terrence. Was this another Rent reference? Or another SMASH reference? Either way, we totally have “One Song Glory” in our heads now.
• Terrence was apparently planning a version of Liaisons “with mirrors” and “sheep” and “full-frontal nudity.” We. Feel. Robbed.
• Heeey Seth Rudetsky! He was also in Bunheads this season too, so if his career as a musician/radio host/writer doesn’t work out, he has a bright future in television.
• Kyle says John Cameron Mitchell is at the Liaisons opening. Plus 100 because Kyle would totally spot Jon Cameron Mitchell out in a crowd. Plus 200 because John Cameron Mitchell would totally be at the Liaisons opening. Plus 300 because we saw John Cameron Mitchell and Andy Mientus IRL at the Ragtime concert a few weeks back. And Plus 400 because we just love John Cameron Mitchell and damn we want a Hedwig revival.
• Jerry kept press clippings from Carousel, the first show he and Eileen, which is actually sweet. We like that they’ve been giving Jerry multiple dimensions this season. They should try that with more of their characters.
• We’re pretty sure this is really the lobby of The Broadway Theatre. Plus 50 for authenticity.
• “Ce N’Est Pas Ma Faute (It’s Not My Fault)” feels like a cut number from Nice Work If You Can Get It. It’s not our favorite Shaiman and Wittman number from SMASH, but we’ve definitely seen worse than this on Broadway. And at least it’s entertaining.
• Tom and Ivy make references to Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth because they are both SO GAY.
• Karen gets jealous of Ivy and Tom, and quits Bombshell. That sound you hear are the angels singing.
• Derek says that they are putting on Hit List in a space not much larger than his bathroom. Remember how huge his apartment is? That’s probably true.
• Grace Gummer is acting her face off. “I’m her daughter,” she tells Jerry. “You hurt us both for the last time.” THAT’S STREEP REALNESS.
• Terry’s understudy will finish the week and Liaisons is closing on Sunday. Kind of reminds of when Christian Hoff had to leave Pal Joey due to a “foot injury” and was replaced by his understudy. That show didn’t close in less than a week, but it should have. Also, another SMASH Reality Index prediction comes true! Check!
• Aaand Tom agrees to put Marilyn’s mother back in the show. Check again!
• And Ivy’s playing Marilyn. Check again, again!
• Now that Karen is back in Hit List, Ana won’t be playing the lead. “Oh great. The sister. Again,” she gripes. Plus 100 because this is really Krysta Rodriguez complaining about The Addams Family.

Oh Hell No! 
• At the beginning of the episode, we hear the end of another Hit List song and it sounds laaaame.
• Seconds into Derek’s break at Hit List rehearsals, the theater is filled with young kids, ready for some children’s theater performance. We get the joke, showing angry Derek surrounded by annoying kids, but there’s no way the rehearsal space would turn over that quickly. 
• At Bombshell rehearsals, Tom gives Karen a line reading which YOU NEVER DO as a director. Are you new here? 
• In an effort to change Derek’s choreography, the new unnamed choreographer stages “The National Pastime” as a tap number. Apparently the new choreographer is Kathleen Marshall. Minus 50. 
• Also, remember how much better Ivy was in this number? Minus another 50. 
• “Maybe you’d see it more if I wasn’t jumping up and down the whole time,” Karen says about why she can’t get the come hither look. The choreography does suck, but don’t blame the choreography for the fact that you’re not sexy, Karen. 
• Scott is talking about an upstairs and a downstairs at the Manhattan Theatre Workshop, but it’s based on New York Theatre Workshop, which just has one theater space. Minus 10. 
• “Ana is good,” Jimmy tells Derek, “but she doesn’t have what Karen has.” Is it gonorrhea? It has to be gonorrhea, right? (Minus 100) 
• “I’m a director so I think this is exactly how it should go,” Derek barks at Jimmy and Kyle. We get that he’s a boss, arrogant prick of a director but seriously - give the guy some plausible fucking dialogue here. 
• There is a performance of Liaisons, but we don’t understand what is happening here. Derek said earlier that he was going to opening night that night at 7pm. But this can’t be that performance because Derek isn’t there. Is this an invited dress? Or a rehearsal? If so, why are there people with Playbills? It could be a preview performance. But weren’t they just in tech the other day? And if this a preview, is it a matinee? On the same day as opening? That doesn’t seem right... 
• The audience hates Liaisons and the cast seems totally surprised. Maybe if they had some fucking preview performances, they wouldn’t be so shocked here... 
• “It’s not bad,” Karen tells Derek, of the new direction Bombshell is going in. “It’s just not you.” Minus 50 because BARF. 
• “It wouldn’t be confusing if you left with me,” Derek tells Karen when she talks to him about Bombshell. “Gwen would have bailed if Fosse quit.” After Derek worked so hard to get her there, why would he be trying to convince her to leave? We get that she’s his muse or whatever, but it is totally unprofessional of him to try and get her to break her contract on her first Broadway show. 
• Eileen wants Julia and Tom to threaten to leave Bombshell, saying that’s the only way they can gain control of the show back from Jerry. And apparently Jerry didn’t sign the new choreographer contract because he wants Derek back. Could these plots be more ridiculous?
• “The song about fame and what people do to get it doesn’t do that?” Jimmy asks Kyle when he asks for a song about fame. Kind of funny, but wouldn’t Kyle know they already have a song about that.
• Karen shows up in Greenpoint again, uninvited with a new boring hairdo. She’s like Vanessa from Gossip Girl all over again. 
• Karen tells Jimmy the theme of Hit List is “changing who you are” and “reinvention.” “That’s not universal,” Jimmy snarkily replies, “because people don’t really do that.” He’s referring to the fact that Karen hasn’t changed her mind yet. But STFU Jimmy - STOP MAKING US HATE YOU.
• “If I fail it’s right back to regional theater. The last artistic director only lasted a year,” Scott tells Derek. There may be some truth in this, but some artistic directors stick around for longer than they should.
• Julia shows up at the restaurant where Derek is meeting with Scott to get Derek to sign the contract, releasing his choreography. She complains that he wasn’t answering his phone, so she had to see him in person. TV shows do this all the time and it’s soooo fucking annoying. Think about it. How did Julia know where Derek was? He doesn’t have an assistant. And she was apparently surprised to see Scott, so she couldn’t have gone through him to find them. Did Derek check in on Foursquare? Did he Instagram his lunch with locations enabled? NONE OF IT MAKES SENSE. 
• Derek sniffs out that Julia is unhappy that Tom’s cut the bit about Marilyn’s mother. But we all know Marilyn’s mother is coming back into the story because there are two songs by Bernadette Peters on the Bombshell “Original Cast Recording” NBC released two months ago. Minus 100 because SPOILER ALERT. 
• Julia acts surprised that Derek knows what’s going on in Bombshell rehearsals. “I have my spies,” he tells her. OBVIOUSLY IT’S KAREN, JULIA. ARE YOU REALLY THAT DENSE? 
• “I’ve never done this before. I’m still learning,” Tom says, bringing Karen flowers to apologize. Obviously. Would a director really go to an actress’s apartment to personally deliver flowers to her
• Tom wants to bring Karen to the Liaisons opening and tells her that Ivy will be ok with it. While Tom needs to play nice with Karen, we think he cares too much about Ivy to risk ruining her opening night like that. 
• “I don’t know what this show is anymore,” Ivy says, of Liaisons. “I guess we didn’t have enough time to fix it.” NO SHIT IVY - IT’S BEEN THREE EPISODES AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN SEEM TO HAVE A PREVIEW PERIOD. 
• Seth Rudetsky has a tape recorder and he’s interviewing Karen and Tom about Bombshell. Although Seth does some writing for Playbill now and again, it’s not like he’s an investigative reporter. Was Michael Riedel busy? 
• And even if Seth were an investigative reporter, he wouldn’t be doing that shit in the lobby. That’s what press lines are for. 
• How did Derek get enough comps for him and Jimmy and Kyle? It’s called a plus one and Jimmy and Kyle don’t count as one person. 
• Julia finds out that Eileen got the rights to material from Marilyn’s early life, such as journals, which Julia used. This is going to be the loophole that gets her back the show, but we’re having trouble caring. 
• Derek tells Jimmy and Kyle that Karen fits into the opening night scene because “she’s a star” and BARF. 
• “I’m not going to lie,” Jerry tells Derek and Karen. “Seeing the two of you together makes my heart beat faster.” BARF AGAIN. 
• Derek calls Karen “One of the brightest young actresses around.” BARF FOR THE THIRD TIME.
• Derek and Tom fight about... oh god, we don’t even care anymore. Minus everything. 
• The usher tells the gang they need to take their seats for the show. And then the lights flicker for the first time. Come on, SMASH. Are you even trying here? 
• 40 minutes into this episode of SMASH, and we finally have our first musical number. Minus 500 because this show is supposed to be a musical, right?
• Are we supposed to believe Terrence Falls and the cast of Liaisons are improvising this number? No.
• SMASH has definitely done “disastrous musical numbers” better before. Give us “The Higher You Get The Farther You Fall” over this anyday!
• Seriously, could they have at least put Sean Hayes and Debra Messing in the same scene at the Liaisons opening? Everyone else found an excuse to be there.
• “Call my psychiatrist,” Terrence Falls says at the end of his number. More like, “call my agent,” Sean Hayes.
• That’s not the Broadway Theatre stage door. Minus 10 because they were doing soooo well up until that part!
• “Is the show going to close?” Karen asks Tom as soon as the show ends, not even waiting until the reviews come out. She’s worse than the vultures on the boards.
• “We tried,” Karen tells Tom before she quits Bombshell. They tried for like 5 minutes. You’re going to give up a starring role on Broadway that easily, Iowa?
• Nice subtle billboard for The Voice, NBC.
• “Ever since you left and ever since I left you,” Karen tells Derek, Jimmy, and Kyle, “I haven’t felt right.” IT WAS LAST EPISODE, KAREN.
• “Did you really just give up a Broadway show for us?” Kyle asks Karen. “I guess I did,” Karen optimistically says. AND THE WHOLE WORLD PUNCHES THEMSELVES IN THE FACE.
• Eileen, her daughter, and Julia tell Jerry to sign show over to Eileen because blah blah blah we stopped listening.
• Eileen leaves without throwing a drink in Jerry’s face. She had a martini right in front of her. Minus 100.
• We love Pasek and Paul, but it’s kind of hard to judge the song “Rewrite This Story” that Jimmy and Karen are performing for Scott because we can’t really put it in context. Kyle tells us the show is about transformation, but what exactly is happening in this scene? Other than bad direction.
• And we brought this up last week, but it’s worth repeating. We’ve been told of Derek’s brilliance, but everything they’ve shown us just proves to us that he’s an awful director. Those projections? So cheesy. Like 2009 Guys and Dolls revival cheesy.
• And minus everything for this whole Jimmy and Derek fighting over Karen thing. We’d even take the “Who will be Marilyn?” drama over this. Derek, why don’t you just let Jimmy have Karen and finally hook up with Tom?  

So, did we miss anything? Are you as annoyed by Derek's direction as we are? Does anyone else miss season 1? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Contest: Win Tickets to The Memory Show

Update: The contest is now closed. The winner was picked at random. Congratulations Brad Buchholtz!

I've been a fan of Transport Group Theatre Company since I saw its site-specific The Boys in The Band, so I'm excited to give away a pair of tickets to the company's new musical The Memory Show. This two-hander about a daughter who comes home to care for her mother who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's was written by Sara Cooper (book and lyrics) and Zach Redler (music). It stars Catherine Cox (Baby, Footloose) and Leslie Kritzer (Sondheim on Sondheim, A Catered Affair).

To go with the memory theme, in order to win a pair of tickets* to see the show, leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite theater memory. For an extra entry, tweet about the contest or retweet one of my tweets about it. You must be following on Twitter for the extra entry. A winner will be chosen at random from all the entries on Friday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. Please include your e-mail address or Twitter handle in the comments so I have a way to contact you if you win. Good luck!

*Winner will receive a voucher redeemable for two tickets to a performance through May 18, 2013. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

If you don't win tickets, you can still see the show at a great deal:
EARLY BIRD OFFER (April 16-28 perfromances): $35 tickets – use code TMSRR1
OFFER #2 (May 1-18 performances): $45.50 tickets – use code TMSRR3

ONLINE: Click here and use code from above
PHONE: Call 646-223-3010 and mention code from above
Offer restrictions: (Regularly $65) Subject to availability. Not valid on prior purchase. Offer cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions; blackout dates and restrictions may apply. No refunds or exchanges. Offer may be revoked at any time. Standard service fees apply to all phone and internet orders.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Q&A with Kaitlin Colombo

Kaitlin Colombo is 26, but she's been working as a comic and writer for 13 years. Her new play, The Choking Game, is part of IRT's 3B development series. IRT is a theater for the development of new work. The Choking Game is about Natalie and Matt, a suburban 18-year-old couple with an amateur Internet sex show. The press release describes it as "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf for the YouTube generation." Colombo also stars in the show opposite John Zdrojeski.

Q: It says on your bio that you got started as a comic at the age of 13. How did you get started? 
Colombo: I'm the daughter of a gay man and a lesbian (I'm a friggin' Dateline special!), so standup seemed... logical. When I was 13, my Big Gay Dad and I moved to Los Angeles from Long Island. I was an awkward tween (puberty hit me like tanker truck) but I wanted to be on stage. In trying to find afterschool activities for me, I stumbled upon a teen stand up comedy group. My first show was at the world-famous Hollywood Improv and I was hooked. Stand up is the perfect combination of performing and writing for yourself. At the suggestion of the Improv's owner, Budd Friedman, I broke away from the group (I'm an only child and I don't play well with others). I went on to become the youngest person to ever play the mainstage of the Hollywood Improv. So essentially, I grew up in comedy clubs. My friends were at sleepovers, having pillow fights, I was sitting at the bar of the Improv getting hit on by Jay Mohr. Since then, I've appeared on Last Comic Standing (voted online fan favorite), did comedic commentary for E!, did a terrible reality show with Andy Dick on MTV, and had a development deal with FOX when I was 17. And that's all my name dropping for the day.

Q: Who are your comedy/writing inspirations? 
Colombo: My comedy inspiration is George Carlin. I was nearly expelled from my kindergarten class because, for show and tell, I sang "The Seven Words You Can't Say On Television" to the tune of "It's A Small World After All." However, the piece of writing that did nothing short of change my life was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I read the play for a 7th grade book report and the musicality of the language coupled with the brute force of the subject matter was the most exciting thing I had ever encountered. I have many dog-eared copies of that play in my apartment and will still scream "I don't bray!" when out drunk with my friends in Hell's Kitchen.

Q: When did you first start writing The Choking Game? What was your initial inspiration? 
Colombo: It took about a year for me to finish The Choking Game. It was an arduous process. It's a very dark play and it's a hard world to live in and obsess over as a writer. I have the stress-related ulcer to prove it! I was the culmination of a very difficult period of time in my life: my manager and surrogate mother figure, Caresse Henry, committed suicide in 2010. It sent me into a bit of a spiral and I knew I could have either gone to therapy, done a lot of hard drugs or written this play. Writing this play was the cheapest.

Q: Why should audiences come see The Choking Game
Colombo: It's a scary play. There are moments where it's very funny and very touching but ultimately, when I was writing it, I was trying to see if I could create a contained thriller on stage, in the vein of Rear Window or Paranormal Activity. The play takes place during an amateur internet pornography show so everything that the on-stage webcam sees is projected onto a giant screen over the stage. The live audience will always see what the "webcam audience" would see. It happens in real time, 90 minutes with no intermission. So when that curtain goes up, there's nowhere to hide. It's a play about sex and violence. It's challenging, venomous and devastating, with an ending no one will see coming.

Q: Are you hoping to appeal to a young audience with this play? Do you have any ideas for how to get young people to the theater? 
Colombo: I definitely want to appeal to a young audience with this play. I'm 26 and I've lived in New York for about 5 years. I try to see as much theater as I can and I'm always struck by how little the next generation of playwrights seems to be supported or represented. There are hundreds of revivals and plays based on movies. This isn't new for Broadway but it's now permeated the off-Broadway scene. Where do we go if off-Broadway is no longer experimental? With the cost of theater space constantly climbing and resources rapidly dwindling, producing quality theater is extremely difficult if you don't have an actor from Glee in your cast (on a side note, it's why I am so incredibly grateful to the folks at IRT. They are the only people out there at this level who give you their complete support but don't try to constantly pick at and meddle with your work unlike some places I've been to). Unfortunately, if there's no new work, there won't be new audiences. My generation has been raised on the reality television and MTV and Facebook. This hasn't shortened our attention span as much as it has increased our ability to process information and move onto the next thing. We're so much more intelligent and receptive than we're given credit for and our theatre needs to reflect that.

Q: If you could invite anyone to see your show and they had to say yes, who would it be? 
Colombo: Edward Albee. Let's bring this full circle.

The show runs at the IRT Theater from March 19 through the 23. For tickets, RSVP to or visit

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The SMASH Reality Index Season 2 Episode 6

Back by popular demand, Dave (@NineDaves) and I have teamed up to bring you our take on what’s keepin’ it real and what’s faking it each week on SMASH. Follow the 'caps here or on Dave's site.

In the previews for next week’s episode of SMASH, we’re told to expect “the moment no one saw coming.” “The moment everyone saw coming” would probably be more accurate, as everything SMASH has done for two seasons now has been entirely predictable. Why, last week, we closed our column laying out the future of SMASH down to the finale. And wouldn’t you know it - in one episode, most of those things have already happened. Tom’s directing Bombshell. Derek’s over on Hit List. And it looks like by next, Karen will be over to Hit List and Ivy will be making her way back to Bombshell. Snooze.

But rather than dwell on the future, we should probably talk a little bit about the present. And that means Episode 6 - “The Fringe.” If you remember, episode 5 left us with a cliffhanger that kept us up every night this week (aka we forgot about it until the first scene). Remember, Eileen had to choose which Bombshell book the show would go with: an older version which Tom and Jerry (he he, Tom and Jerry) loved, and a new version Julia wrote with Peter that she and Derek loved. What did she go with? Julia’s old version! Much to Julia and Derek’s disappointment. And, quite frankly, ours. Though... why are we worrying about this so much? We’re never given the chance to see book scenes. This conflict makes absolutely no impact on the viewing audience because we’re never given the chance to see the material in question. It’s impossible to judge. 

Here’s something we can judge though: Hit List. This week, the show goes up at Fringe and we’re finally given a look at its generic staging. We’re also shown a new song or two - one, “Heart Shaped Wreckage,” that involves a boring duet between Karen and Jimmy that ends in a boring kiss. Look, we’re happy that SMASH is giving exposure to so many young songwriters. But there are like, 20 songwriters writing Jimmy Collins’s music. Joe Iconis, Pasek and Paul, and now four new new writers this week: Julian Emery, Jonathan Green, James Irvin, and Lucie Silvas. Say what you will about Bombshell, but at least there is one composing team (Shaiman and Whitman) writing all the music. Hit List might benefit from some consistency here. 

What else would we like to see? We’ll let you know below.

Totally True
• Julia says the previous book to Bombshell she wrote with Peter is “the best thing I’ve ever written.” That’s probably true. Three on a Match and Heaven on Earth don’t exactly look like they have complex plot points.
• Derek admits he only let Eilleen have the final say on which book they choose because he thought she’d choose his side. Plus 20 ‘cause we’d do the same thing.
• "It's for tourists. It isn't art," Julia says at rehearsal. A show can be both, but this is definitely something New York theater types think.
• “We might have to cut something to make room for this number,” Jerry says. “It’s a lot music.” Plus 30 because we have the Bombshell “cast recording” and there are so many songs in it, we’d guess even Shaiman and Whitman feel the same way.
• A stage manager tells Jimmy Collins and company that there is a performance upstairs and they need to shut the fuck up. Plus 50. Also, a stage manager who isn't Linda? We miss Ann Harada, but yes, there are other stage managers out there.
• “Dude, it’s Broadway,” Ana tells Kyle when he complains about Karen leaving for Bombshell rehearsal. “It doesn’t work like that. There’s millions of dollars at stake. You can’t just take off.” Plus 100 because it’s like Krysta Rodriguez was writing the ‘Reality Index’ for us.
• Ivy lies about Terry Falls in the elevator because obviously she wants Karen to think she's better off not being in Bombshell.
• "Never Give All The Heart" is not the best ballad from Bombshell. We wouldn’t be that sad to see it go. Just don’t take away “They Just Keep Moving The Line.”
• Julia gets pissed that Eileen keeps agreeing with Jerry. For once, we’re on Julia’s side. It’s annoying. GET THAT WOMAN A MARTINI!
• Derek is jealous that they’re moving forward with Hit List without him. Plus 50 because that’s the ego we’re used to seeing in Derek!
• "I have the right to approve any other show while you're in my show. That's in your contract," Jerry tells Karen when he finds out about Hit List. Finally, someone putting her in her place.
• “If you want to go, go,” Jerry tells Karen. “But don’t bother coming back.” “GOOOOO,” the world collectively screams at their televisions.
• Plus 100 for Jeremy Jordan PSAs.
• When Karen bails out on Hit List, they’re forced to find a last minute replacement. “Whoever does the part can hold the music,” Ana claims. “It’s Fringe.” Apparently it’s like Encores! But even at Encores! they barely look at the music anymore.
• Ivy Lynn and Derek have a conversation on the table and chairs outside the Flatiron Building. Plus 100 because unlike Times Square, people actually sit and talk on those.
• “How am I supposed to be good working opposite a lunatic?” Ivy asks Derek. She’s talking about Terrence but we’re pretty sure this is another subtle dig at Theresa Rebeck.
• Peter tells Julia to leave Bombshell and go with him to work on a production in London. Julia claims she can’t go because of Leo. “Bring him,” Peter says. “Leave him there,” says everyone.
• “He’s like the Incredible Hulk,” Ana says to Karen, of Jimmy. “One little thing and he’s ripping through his shirt.” Plus 50 because that’s the best description of Jimmy we’ve heard yet. Plus another 50 because we can’t wait till Jeremy Jordan’s shirt comes off.
• Ellis’s ex-girlfriend says he was a psychopath and also gay, finally figuring out what everyone else picked up on from season 1 episode 1. But we’ve all been in denial about guys we’ve dated, right?
• “Oh hey somebody tweeted about us,” Kyle says. It was probably us.
• People are hate-tweeting about Hit List. Plus 200 because we love when the SMASH writers reference what’s happening to their show in the real world.
• Jimmy complains that there’s no heat in the theater. We’ve been to the summer Fringe and they never have air conditioning in the theater.
• SpotCo shout out! Plus 100!
• Derek is annoyed that Tom is directing Karen. As he should be. He’s the director.
• Derek says that Tom is commandeering his show and it’s like he’s Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean again.
• Derek quits Bombshell, and his goodbye speech is everything we wanted it to be and more: “Julia, I’m sorry. I tried to make the show we wanted. Oh, and Jerry, you truly are what is wrong with American theater. And Eileen, you are smarter, classier, and better than your producing partner, and if I were you, I wouldn’t agree with a single decision he makes from here on. Oh, ladies and gentleman. Tom, oh Tom, we’ve got a long history, haven’t we? And I’m not sorry to say it ends today. You want to direct this show so much, well now’s your chance, because I’m done. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure working with you. Some more than others. I quit.” Plus everything.
• Karen Cartwright goes after Derek.
• We finally get to see Ivy Lynn singing a song from Liaisons (“A Letter From Cecile”) and it’s just as amazing as we expected it to be.
• Seriously. All the awards to Shaiman and Whitman for this “Letter From Cecile” song. Week after week, they knock it out of the park. “I see a nomination in your future,” a reporter tells Ivy. We’d probably say the same thing if we were sitting there.
• Julia and Tom eat when they’re depressed. “Stars” - they’re just like us!
• Plus 100 for bringing up Rebecca Duvall. Any chance we can shit on Uma Thurman, we’re happy.
• “Can you come to Chinatown?” Tom asks Eileen. Sure she can Tom! Eileen loves downtown!
• Hit List looks like a show that fan girls everywhere are going to love the shit out of. Mostly because it stars a hot boy.
• The cast of Liaisons finally tell Terrance the truth, and they all agree to make changes to the show before tech. “I’ve never been so embarrassed by my work before,” says Veanne Cox’s character. “And I was in Urban Cowboy.” Plus 500, even though Veanne Cox wasn’t.
• We love that Jesse L. Martin is playing the Artistic Director of a fake organization based on New York Theater Workshop, where he starred in Rent. It’s such a full circle moment.
• Tom does the choreography for Bombshell around his apartment when he thinks no one is watching. We’ve been there.
• Just because she wasn’t in this week’s episode, doesn’t mean we still can’t have our favorite feature, THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK! “Hey bitches, I’m slaying in Cinderella right now. Come see me on Broadway.” CONGRATULATIONS ANN! )

Oh Hell No! 
• The Hit List gang signed up for this “Winter Fringe Festival” with only two weeks to go. The “Winter Fringe Festival” may be fake, but we highly doubt they’d let a show in that close to performances. 
• "It's the Fringe. You get two days and a shoebox," Ana says. “Sometimes it’s a disaster, sometimes you break out.“ Having seen many Fringe shows, the ‘two days and a shoebox’ thing is definitely right on. But name one show besides Urinetown that’d you consider a “break out?” Yeah... 
• The Hit List gang sing a new song called “This Will Be Our Year” while they clean the theater. Minus 30 for it not being “All Over the World” from Xanadu
• Kyle complains that Karen has to go to Bombshell rehearsal. We get that he cares about Hit List, but kid - be a little gracious here. 
• Karen tells Derek that they don’t have a director for Hit List. They’re just “throwing up” the first act. Even Fringe shows have directors. 
• Okay, now they’re using the Flatiron Building ELEVATOR BANK as the fucking rehearsal building!?!? Plus 10 for staying consistent with their other choices, we guess, but Minus 20 because THOSE ARE PUBLISHING OFFICES. 
• “Ever since I went off my meds I feel amazing,” Terrence tells Ivy. “I got certified in archery, I learned French, I got arrested!” Minus 100 because a huge celebrity going off his meds and getting arrested would be a bigger deal. 
• Jerry says that there are too many ballads in Bombshell. You can never have too many ballads! Right, Ragtime fans? 
• The Winter Fringe Festival is on the cover of Time Out New York. Again, no such thing as the Winter Fringe. And the only time theater gets front page coverage on Time Out New York is when Broadway stars are photographed in “winter bars.” 
• Jerry claims that “Bombshell’s entire marketing campaign is centered around introducing Karen Cartwright.” Minus everything because that’s the worst campaign ever. 
• Derek complains that he and Karen are both “stuck” at Bombshell. Like, two weeks ago weren’t you both complaining about the show not going to Broadway? Jeeze... 
• “Your career is more important than your friends,” Jimmy tells Karen. Like, two episodes ago he was ignoring her and now they’re friends? 
• Jimmy is throwing another temper tantrum because Karen can’t do his show and it’s getting old. 
• Peter is flying to London to work on a show at the Royal Court and asks Julia to come with him. Isn’t that a little highbrow for Julia? 
• Minus 10 for not telling us who starred in Jerry’s She Loves Me revival and minus another 10 because it’s been too long since She Loves Me has been on Broadway and isn’t it time someone revived it for real?
• “That song is too intellectual,” Jerry complains, referring to “Never Give All The Heart.” “I like songs that make me feel something.” Who is he? Clearly this is why Jerry produces She Loves Me and not Sondheim. I mean, who is he? Jerry Herman? 
• Tom refers to “Never Give All The Heart” as “the emotional core of the show.” We would have picked “Second Hand White Baby Grand.” 
• Jeremy Jordan gets pissed off at the bad reviews of Hit List, and storms out of the room, claiming he won’t do the next show. The “Hulk” Ana referred to earlier is here and apparently he’s only rolling a joint and going to get high. Meh. 
• Julia wants to go to London because she’s not getting her way, and Tom is forced to sit and explain to her the definition of collaboration. Minus 50 because is this a rerun?
• “It’s not like we’ve got the problems Wicked had and look what happened,” Tom tells Julia. “Nine years later it’s still one of the highest grossing shows on Broadway.” We’re not sure if Wicked’s problems can be compared with Bombshell’s, and besides, most troubled shows do not have those kinds of grosses. 
• The rehearsal press preview for Liaisons seems a little soon for us. But even if it weren’t, they for sure wouldn’t be rehearsing in full costume here.
• Instead of rewriting “Never Give All The Heart,” Tom re-stages it and makes Karen sing the song to the men in her life. No longer a cautionary tale, the song becomes an explanation as to why Karen holds herself back from all her men. He claims he got the idea from Julia’s version of the book. Okay, first of all, minus 200 because this is a terrible restaging of what was a great number. And OF COURSE Julia is too stupid to see that and agrees with Tom. 
• “How many Best Director Tonys have you got?” Derek asks Tom. How many do you have, Derek? We’re super curious! 
• Karen not only leaves rehearsal to run after Derek, but then gets in a cab to presumably go to the Fringe rehearsal. Girl, you have to at least tell Linda the stage manager where you’re going. 
• Minus 1,000 for that Time Out New York ad at the subway station. Because no way could they afford that. We know because we’ve never paid for a subscription to Time Out New York, but we still get it every week. Even Linda’s parents in California have a free subscription.  

• Jealous that the critics like Ivy Lynn, Terrence cuts Ivy’s song. “I’m the lead of the show,” he tells her. “So If I’m not the funniest in the show, they’ll be disappointed. It’s just one of the great burdens of being a celebrity. I have to be the best all the time. You can be funny, just not as funny.” Minus 100 because once again, SMASH paints celebrities like they’re all bumbling egomaniacal idiots. Minus another 100 because even if Terry felt that way, he would never say that out loud in a room full of critics. And minus another 100 because Megan Mullally probably wanted to say that on the set of Will & Grace each week and never did. 
• And are they really going to have Sean Hayes on this show and not have him interact at all with Debra Messing? Minus your life. 
• “The only place I wanted to be... the only person I wanted to be with was you,” Karen tells Jimmy, as if she is the star of a romantic comedy. Gag.
• Ivy tells Terry that he’s terrible in the show. In turn, he gives her back her song and praises her for her honesty. “You reach a certain level of fame and everyone just says yes all the time and no one tells you the truth,” he marvels. Um... didn’t Ivy tell you the truth last week? And then you went off your meds and acted like a bigger jerk? 
• And why does this Terry have total creative control over the show again? That shit would never go down. 
• Tom is excited about the fact that Derek has left Bombshell. “Think about all the problems we have,” he says. “It all goes back to him.” Apparently Tom is forgetting about Julia’s awful book that we just spent five episodes trying to fix. 
• Derek goes to the Hit List Fringe performance and is so inspired by what he’s hearing, he starts envisioning what the number would look like staged on a big Broadway stage. To the surprise of no one, Derek’s Hit List looks awful. Karen has a bad wig on and an ugly flowy gown with a wind machine, and is singing in front of a Pepsi-Cola billboard. It’s like a bad '90s soda commercial starring Celine Dion. What is even happening in this scene? 
• Question: was this Hit List scene supposed to take place in front of a Pepsi-Cola billboard? Or were they just too lazy to paint the backdrop? 
• Karen Cartwright with bangs. Minus 100. 
• Wasn’t Hit List supposed to be sold out? The theater is half empty. Which is typical for any Fringe performance, but still. And why is everyone standing in the back? There are plenty of empty seats, guys! 
• Terry is standing in front of the Liaisons cast asking for their opinions on the night before tech. Shouldn’t they be getting notes from the director or something? 
• Jesse L. Martin’s character says he works for the Manhattan Theatre Workshop. Did you mean New York Theatre Workshop? 
• There are way more people hanging out in the lobby of Hit List than were at the actual show. And it’s not just the cast. 
• Also, Jesse L. Martin’s character was not in the audience at Hit List. We paused that shit and boy was nowhere to be found. 
• Eileen finally learns how Jerry got control of Bombshell and in the least shocking twist of all time, makes Tom the director. How, again, does she do that when she’s not the producer anymore?

Miss anything? Let's break this shit down in the comments.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The SMASH Reality Index Season 2 Episode 5

Back by popular demand, Dave (@NineDaves) and I have teamed up to bring you our take on what’s keepin’ it real and what’s faking it each week on SMASH. Follow the 'caps here or on Dave's site.

This week on SMASH, we come to yet another crossroads with Bombshell. Julia and Peter finally finish the book - which has been a total disaster up until this point - and the gang gets together to have a good old fashioned read-through. Spoiler alert - the book’s great. But Jerry doesn’t want to produce the new version because he fears it’s “too good” and would therefore, not recoup. Tom somewhat agrees, and sums up his conflict with Julia’s book concisely: “You’ve written an incredibly rich story about the men who created Marilyn. I’ve always been more interested in how Marilyn created herself.”

We’re then presented with a conflict far more interesting than that ‘Team Ivy’ or ‘Team Karen’ nonsense from Season 1: Should Bombshell be "a sexy provocative insightful musical about Marilyn and the men who made her,” as Julia wants, or “a lush dazzling still insightful spectacle about a girl who became an icon,” as Tom wants? It’s a poignant debate: Art versus Commerce. And if you’ve ever paid attention to the New York theater season, you’d see it’s something that the entire industry struggles with year after year. Bravo SMASH. You finally found a topic that strikes a solid chord.

Too bad it’s the only one you hit this week. Your other plot point was straight up recycled from last season. Remember how Ivy Lynn got cast in that Liaisons musical? Well her partner is Hollywood funnyman Terrence Falls (Sean Hayes), who is so dense, he doesn’t even know Liaisons is supposed to be a drama. Playing every scene as if it were a comedy, Terrence is SMASH’s way of reminding us that celeb-casting is ruining Broadway. Producers may cast celebrities in shows to bring in audiences, but all celebrities are buffoons who will ruin your show. Just like Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) taught us last season. Terrence is even addicted to pills! Stay away, Hollywood!

Guess we can’t get many ‘Totally True’ moments without those ‘Oh Hell No’ plot points, huh? Here’s how everything else fell into place this week:

Totally True
• The read-through of Bombshell is happening at The Belasco, which Tom says contains "all the great hopes and crushing failures." We lean towards crushing failures. (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, anyone?)
• This “Public Relations” number includes multiple Christian Borles! All our dreams coming true! (Except in our dreams, Ivy Lynn is playing Marilyn.) 

• We usually deduct points for dream sequence musical numbers, but if they all star Christian Borle, we're ok with it. The show needs to let Christian Borle show more of his comedic song-and-dance man side. The dude won a Tony for it and he’s brilliant in this number. He deserves more chances to do just that. 
•  This new song "Public Relations" is not our favorite Shaiman/Whitman Bombshell number, but it is a solid Act 2 opener. Hey Krysta Rodriguez! We almost forgot about you! Plus 10! 
• Derek tells Karen that he wants to take advantage of the buzz coming off of Jimmy and Kyle’s big song at last week’s Veronica Moore concert. The theater community doesn’t feed off overnight success like other industries, but we give him credit for thinking this way. 
• Derek says that a fringe festival is a "place to throw up a work in progress and see if it plays for a few days." Sounds about right. 
• Ivy says Terrence Falls is a big movie star and Liaisons wouldn't be happening without him. Plus 20 because revivals often don't happen without big stars. Just ask Sean Hayes and his 2010 Promises, Promises revival with Kristin Chenoweth. 
• "The work just flowed. It was easy," says Julia about writing with Peter. We're guessing that's a euphemism. 
• Leo still exists! And we don't have to see him! Plus 100. 
• Playwright Jon Robin Baitz (Other Desert Cities) appears as himself! And we learn he used to date Tom. That must have been after his 12-year relationship with Joe Mantello ended. But plus 10 because the man has taste. 
• Jeremy Jordan in a wife-beater. We repeat – Jeremy Jordan in a wife-beater. THIS IS NOT A DRILL, PEOPLE. 
• Karen decides to have a read-through of Hit List because she just learned what read-throughs were 10 minutes ago from Derek. 
• Karen says that people like to be a part of new work, which we have to admit is actually a smart thing to say. Well done, Iowa. 
• Jimmy had a girl over. Which he would. And which makes Karen upset. Plus 20. 
• Ivy and Tom eat at the Shake Shack at Madison Square Park. Plus 10 because that place is hella good.
• Ivy claims that they’re turning Liaisons into Spamalot. Plus 100 because theater people use bad shows as shade all the time. Don’t believe us? Look at every SMASH Reality Index we’ve ever written. 
• Also, Ivy is clearly still as bitter about Spamalot beating Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for Best Musical as we are. 
• Ana says Jimmy kissed Karen because he was high. Plus 20 because that's the only way anyone can tolerate her. 
• “Why do I care so much?” Karen wonders, about Jimmy. “Because he’s hot and talented,” Ana replies. Plus 50 cause it’s like Ana knows our dating history. 
• Derek's loyalty to Eileen is cute. 
• “Don’t talk to me like that,” Eileen barks at Derek. “I’m not one of your actresses.” Plus 100 because even without a drink in her hand, Eileen is still HBIC. 
• "I felt so inspired by his commitment to his project," Julia says about Peter. Another euphemism? 
• OH HEY NIKKI BLONSKY. This is the closest you’ll ever get to Broadway! 
• Spring Awakening poster! Plus 1,000! 
• Ana wants to talk to Karen about something and Karen says that everything is taken care of. Because obviously Karen assumes that every conversation is about her problems. 
• “What part am I playing?” Jessica asks at the read-through of Hit List. Spoken like a true actress. 
• Plus 100 for this speech from Eileen: "I've been involved with the show since its inception. And I'll be damned if I'm going to be taking tea while its course is being set 10 blocks away. I lost one love and I'm not going to lose another and if anybody has a problem with that they can take me out in handcuffs." 
• Terrence decides to make all the actors in Liaisons match his tone and play the material as comedy. We’re pretty sure theater actors dumb their shit down for Hollywood actors all the time. 
• Jeremy Jordan is singing "Caught in the Storm" and it's so much better than when Karen sang it. Also, we love it when they do songs we've seen before on this show because when you work on a show, you need to work on songs more than once. 
• Everyone hates the Hit List book. “The concept’s cool,” Bobby tells the room after the reading. “But the dialogue and the characters? Come on guys – I can’t be the only one who sees this.” Wait, is he talking about Hit List or SMASH
• Kyle can’t handle criticism, and storms out, claiming everyone just didn’t “get it” because “it’s not Broadway.” Apparently he studied at ‘The Julia Houston School of Musical Book Writing.” 
• Also storming out of the room? Terrence, who freaks when Ivy plays her scene dramatically. Apparently he studied at “The Rebecca Duvall School for Hollywood Actors Who Want To Do Broadway.”
• The new Bombshell book is “brilliant,” according to Derek. GOOD JOB PETER. Now call us because we have a few shows currently running on Broadway we think you should fix. 
• “You’re not as bad a guy as you try to seem,” Ana tells Jimmy. We die.
• "This version might win some awards but it's not going to put asses in the seats for years and years to come," Jerry says, explaining why he won’t produce this version of Bombshell. This is definitely something producers have to consider.
• Jerry lists off good shows that didn’t recoup: Follies, Grey Gardens, Ragtime, and Sunday in the Park With George. He clearly knows his theater history. 
• Karen mentions that Rent started out as a book musical, but became sung-through by the time it got to Broadway. Plus 15. 
• Tom and Julia want to tell two different stories. We don't like to see Tom and Julia fighting, but we do like where they're going with the storyline—showing the complicated side of composer/lyricist relationships. 

Oh Hell No! 
• Jerry is telling Eileen what she can and cannot do, and we hate that. Minus 10. 
• Why are they doing this read-through at The Belasco? They don't usually use Broadway houses for these things, right? 
• Tom says Julia’s always nervous before a reading. We’d say this is totally true, but we’re pretty sure this is the first reading Julia has ever been a part of. 
• “Jerry’s made it perfectly clear he’s got no problem pulling the plug if [the read-through] doesn’t go flawlessly,” Derek tells us. We’re pretty sure Jerry wouldn’t have spent all the time scheming to take control of Bombshell to walk away after one bad read. 
• “We can’t afford for you to stumble again,” Derek tells Julia. “And neither can your career.” Um... Derek. 20 minutes ago, you couldn’t get a job because of all your sexual harrassment charges. Those in glass houses.... 
• Ana Vargas and Karen Cartwright are taking a kickboxing class. It’s 2002! 
• Winter Fringe Festival is not a thing. 
• Terrence Falls in Liaisons is “like getting Jim Carrey to play King Lear.” Maybe in a few years, we could see that. 
• “You came all the way out to Greenpoint to tell us that?” Jimmy asks Karen. We were wondering the same thing, and then we remember the Gossip Girl showrunner is in charge now, and just like on that show, people travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn like it ain’t no thing. 
• Jimmy’s one-night stand from the night before comes down from his lofted bed in her matching underwear to get a cup of coffee. Minus 100 because this is Greenpoint and that girl did not have nearly enough tattoos or facial piercings. 
• We’re taking points off for those horrible opening credits every time until they decide to cut them. Minus 10! 
• “You don’t hire a comedy star and ask him to play it straight,” Tom says to Ivy, referring to Terrance Falls. Apparently Tom forgot about Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Or Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. Or a thousand other references we could bring up right now. 
• “You’re having a read-through of a book you didn’t read?” Ivy asks Tom. Are we sure he read the first version? 
• “Karen said we should only do one act in Fringe,” Kyle says. “Leave people wanting more.” Yes Kyle. Great idea. Trust Karen Cartwright. SHE’S HAD SO MUCH EXPERIENCE AT THIS. 
• Okay people. For the last time. THE FLATIRON BUILDING IS NOT A REHEARSAL STUDIO. It’s a publishing house. We know this because one of us works there. And believe us - THEATER PEOPLE LIKE TOM AND JULIA AND IVY LYNN ARE NOT HANGING AROUND THERE ALL THE TIME. Unless, of course, they’re filming SMASH
• “This show had people weeping when it was first done,” Ivy says of Liaisons. Are we sure she wasn’t talking about Dracula
• Ivy tells Terrence that Liaisons is actually a tragedy. He seems shocked. “What a challenge!” he later says. Look, we get that they’re trying to make Terrence the Dumb-Hollywood-Comedian-Trying-To-Do-Broadway character, but we just don’t believe that anyone would be THAT dense. 
• Karen Cartwright sings Death Cab for Cutie’s “Some Boys,” a song we used to love but now will hate for the rest of our lives. THANKS FOR NOTHING, SMASH
• Also, another fantasy sequence musical number? The second of the night! Man, for a show about musicals, they don’t have any fucking idea how to incorporate a musical number into the show, do they? 
• Stop smelling Jimmy's clothes, Karen, you stalker. 
• Julia learns that Peter has passed on his own Bombshell script to Jerry. Said script apparently includes a Liz Taylor sequence that Julia wanted to cut because it “didn’t fit in with the theme.” Minus 50 because we would have given anything to see that. 
• “Why’d you change the title?” Jerry’s assistant Margo (Nikki Blonsky) asks Julia and Tom. “I really liked Bombshell.” Congratulations, Margo. You’re the only one. 
• Bobby hits on Kyle in the most blatant and slutty way ever. Minus 50 because gay guys aren’t all that obnoxious. And minus another 50 because sometimes, they are. 
• The reading for Bombshell ends with everyone raving about it but we didn't see any of it. Why don't you ever let us see book scenes from Bombshell, SMASH? Why? 
• Jimmy assumes Kyle would be a good book-writer because “He eats, sleeps, and drinks theater.” If that were reason enough, we’d have written dozens of books to Broadway shows by now. 
• Karen tells Kyle that she had to work hard for her success. Um... you may have taken some acting, singing, and dancing classes, Karen, but in the grand scheme of things, you got a pretty fucking big break here. You’re not exactly a long-suffering actress. So telling Kyle he “can’t exactly wake up one day and write the next great American musical?” Yeah.. STFU. 
• Eileen goes to see Nick in prison and blah blah blah no one cares. Seriously SMASH. Let this storyline die.
• “She’s a really special person,” Ana tells Jimmy. Um... no. 
• She also tells Jimmy that Karen's been through a lot this year. Like getting the lead in a musical going to Broadway? WHAT A HARD LIFE. 
• Jerry refers to Julia’s book to Bombshell as “a major accomplishment” and “an artistic triumph.” Derek goes on to say it’s “some of the best writing for a Broadway musical he’s seen in years.” Okay, let’s be real here. It can’t be that good. 
• Jerry says he’s going to produce the workshop version of Bombshell he has that Julia wrote 7 months ago. We’re pretty sure that version didn’t have half of the songs in it, including “Don’t Forget Me,” “Our Little Secret,” and “Public Relations.” 
• "If you want to take it The Public Theater, I won't stand in your way," Jerry says, implying that The Public is not concerned with making hits. Hair anyone? 
• Terrence is so inspired by Ivy that he decides to go off his meds. “There are plenty of shows that got better as they went along,” says Ana. “Rent, Next to Normal, Bombshell.” LOL. 
• The Hit List gang decides to scrap Kyle’s shitty book and have Jimmy write the show as sung-through instead. “If you work fast enough, you could still go for Fringe,” Karen says. Minus 50 because that basically means Kyle does nothing and we so want him to overcome his problems, not run away from them. 
• Uck. Jimmy tells Karen she’s “pretty cool.” Then he almost kisses her again. BARF x100. 
• Kyle tells Jimmy that Karen is dating Derek. We're not sure whether he's lying or just has the wrong information, but we don't like how pathetic the writers are making his character. 
• In the end, we’re left with two different Bombshell scripts: one that Julia/Derek like and one that Tom/Jerry like. The gang agrees to let Eileen make the tie-breaking vote to choose which script they go with. We appreciate that sentiment. But would Jerry, after all the plotting and scheming to take over, really be giving her control like that? 
 • And also, can we talk about how Eileen complained about not being a part of Bombshell anymore in the beginning of the episode, and now she’s basically totally in control again. Damn that was fast! 
• “From an audience standpoint, what would you spent $200 and give 2-hours of your time for?” Derek asks Eileen, of the two Bombshell books. Um... we’re all going to do the $30 lotto, right? 

So how’d we do this week? Anything else you add? And is it just us or is the story arc for the rest of the season totally obvious. Here’s what happens: Karen and Derek leave Bombshell for Hit List. Liaisons falls apart/closes early because of Terrence, so Ivy is unemployed again. Tom steps up to direct Bombshell and casts Ivy as Marilyn. Both Bombshell and Hit List open on Broadway and are huge successes. They, as well as Karen and Ivy, face off at the Tony Awards. The season closes before we know who wins. Unless NBC cancels the show, in which case, we find out the winner. Crystal clear, right?