SMASH Fact or fiction? Episode 8 "The Coup"

Happy Thursday and welcome to the eighth episode of SMASH Fact or fiction?  Welcome to all you new readers, please take a moment to read the game rules before activating your buzzers.

Welcome back to America’s favorite TV trivia game show. If you’ve missed the previous posts, check out Why Smash Matters and our first four game shows, for the pilot episode  episode two episode three episode four, episode five, episode six and episode seven  If you are new to My Own Space the blog, my name is Sharon and I’ve been in pretty many Broadway shows.  I am also friends with Theresa Rebeck, the creator, writer, and all around guru of the show–so I am here to remind you that I am in total support of the fact that the show is, in fact,  a TV show–a fictional drama–not a documentary.  Right?  Right.  Good.  Please initialize your understanding of this fact here: ______.  We are not out to do anything except use the show as a launching point for fun conversation about the theater world.  Based on the success of A Chorus Line  and other backstage shows, we here at My Own Space assume there is a basic appreciation and curiosity of what happens behind the scenes on Broadway.  Or else, one might rightly ask, what in the world are you doing reading this blog.  Right?  Right.  If you can’t sing at least part of the song “Tomorrow”, you’re in the wrong place and should maybe try this instead.

Truth be told, you don’t really even need to watch the show to play along, but you might be confused at points and you will not win the grand prize which is hidden behind door number three which will be opened by Bernadette Peters.

Here we go.  Lights up…cue theme music….

I will make a series of statements based on events in this weeks episode, and then give my opinion on whether the statements are “fact” or “fiction”.  You play along.  Get your buzzers ready.

1)  There is “radio silence” after a workshop or a reading as the actors and creative team wait to hear about the next move.  Fact or fiction?

Frequently this is a Fact.  This weeks episode dealt with the silence that happened after the workshop performed.   This is very normal and frequently there is all of the sniffing around seen on the show.  The actors ask other actors, the creative team waits to hear from the producer.  The big missing link here is the agent.  In reality, Ivy would be hounding her agent (even if she was friends with someone in power), and Julia and Tom would be on the horn with their agent, not sending an assistant out on a fishing expedition.  Does it make for good TV to see a bunch of people on the phone or writing emails?  No.  Is it more fun to see creepy and allegedly straight Ellis stalk around and dig things up, and Tom tell a weeping Ivy that they are looking for a star?  Probably.  The point is, YES.  Everyone waits.  Also, I must remind you, if this was, in fact, a workshop, Ivy would be entitled to a fairly hefty buy-out for being replaced.

What would the next move typically be?  Massive re-writes.  Assessment of casting.  Another reading.  Another reading after that.  Hopefully a high profile out-of-town tryout at a theater like the Old Globe or Seattle’s Fifth Avenue where you could get some good reviews, gain some buzz and come into Broadway within the year.  The whole transaction takes years.

2)  Other people write songs for a musical started by someone else.  Fact or fiction?

Before I call it, let’s talk about it.  I have to confess that I was a little confused by the whole teaching Karen a song from a new composer and then bringing in Julia and Tom to watch it to see that the show could go in a “different direction”.  I thought they were being replaced as the composing team–which could get a bit dicey because they originated the idea.  If that was the case–if Derek and Eileen were auditioning a new composer/lyricist–I would call this a FACT, because it has happened that a composing team has been replaced on a project (I’m thinking of Broadway’s Little Women but I am sure there have been others.)  The idea that the producer and a director would hire someone to write a new song for a show–just as a one-off–and then perform it with complete production values at a hidden theater space in Brooklyn…..well….that is just all made for TV fun and gave Kat McPhee a number in a sheet and a lot of drama for everyone else.

This week’s episode was a little light on show biz fact and fictions, so here are a few fact or fictions that are just for fun.

3)  You can get a ticket for walking on the grass.  Fact or fiction.

Fact.  You can get a ticket for anything in New York City.  I point this out only because I recently got a ticket because my Munimeter parking slip was on my dash board but not close enough to my registration.  Seriously?  Another stupid ticket I’ve heard about (but I haven’t gotten one–yet) is a rash of tickets being handed out on the subway to people who place their bag or purse on the seat next to them.  Seriously, and not even in a crowded subway car, but on a car with about 8 people on it.  This doesn’t have to do with anything, but when I saw the ticket for walking on the grass on SMASH, I though, yeah, that’s totally believable.  You can get a ticket for just about anything in New York City (except, weirdly, jaywalking, which is widely considered acceptable behavior, even if it’s illegal. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a jaywalking ticket in New York City.)

4)  Angelica Huston’s daughter is being played by Meryl Streep’s daughter.  Fact or fiction?

Fact.  Grace Gummer.  She was in Arcadia on Broadway last spring and the Tom Hanks film Larry Crowne .  I don’t know why I’m telling you this except that I think it is interesting and you might not know it.

5)  Actors bowl.  Fact or fiction?

Fact.  There is a Broadway bowling league that starts after after the shows end on Thursday nights and the league is competitive.  Whether or not people do production numbers in the middle of the bowling alley is questionable, but it is a loud and drunken good time.  SMASH was not depicting the Broadway Bowling League, but if it were, it would be at a bowling alley in Times Square, not Brooklyn Bowl.  While we’re on the topic of Broadway and sports, another fun fact is that there is also a Broadway softball league.  These leagues are much more competitive than you might expect, especially because the teams tend to be stacked with “ringers” from the stage hands union.  The games are played in Central Park in small ball fields that all share an outfield.  It is common for “homeruns” to roll into the infield of another active game.   There are sometimes serious injuries; I once saw a dancer guy break his ankle in several places running for a line drive.  It was awful.

Thanks for playing!

(For the next post in the SMASH Fact or Fiction series, go here)




About Sharon Wheatley

I'm a mother, an actress and a writer. I'm glad you're here.
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12 Responses to SMASH Fact or fiction? Episode 8 "The Coup"

  1. Brian says:

    I know someone who got a ticket for jaywalking in NYC — a Broadway actor, in fact. Otherwise, good reporting!

  2. Hannah says:

    "allegedly straight Ellis" – bahahahahahahaha!

  3. JayNYC says:

    Sometime early in Rudy Guiliani's rule over NYC (so late 90's?) he tried to crack down on jaywalking (and dancing in bars). The jaywalking thing did not last long.

    And the subway thing has been in place for a few years, I've definitely read about it in several places. However, I don't know if they give tickets to all the ****** guys who sit with their legs spread three feet wide.

  4. Paul Loesel says:

    Hi Sharon! Saw you being shouted out in New York Magazine (how cool is that?!) and just read your SMASH blogs in one sitting. Love it!

  5. Barry says:

    How do they get around the copyright law for other writers replacing the songwriting team?

    • sswheatley says:

      Huh. I'm out of my jurisdiction here. Maybe some one else can explain? Any takers? I was wondering if it has to do with who holds the show's copyright. Make sense? If Julia and Tom have the idea and the have the permission from the Marilyn Monroe estate to do the show (right? Wouldn't there be someone who protects her image?) then the producer does not have the ability to hire in a new song writing team because she does not have the copyright on the idea. If the producer approached the writers and the producer owns the idea, then I would assume there would be lawyers and contracts and agents involved and some kind of hefty buy out to fire the originally hired writers from the project, but it could be done. If it is public domain (for example a classic novel like Jane Eyre) I really don't know how it would all break down. If I get some time I will go on a Google research mission.

      • Barry says:

        I guess it really depends on whether or not they are "selling" partial ownership of the show to the first producer. If my understanding is accurate, the original producers receive royalties from all future productions, so they do have some type of ownership rights. It's just the complete replacement of the originators of the show that seems a bit wrong. I'm sure there is some standard in this respect.

  6. JEFF S says:

    Broadway Show League is a great time…unless you are playing teams like Local One or Nederlander. Those guys are tough!

  7. JEFF S says:

    Just saw a guy get a ticket for walking through the doors from car to car on a parked E train, down at World Trade.

    That muni ticket is a RIP OFF, sharon! I would fight that crap!

  8. MarkS10517 says:

    Great blog! There were a number of other items that struck me as fiction:

    – Putting aside the fact that Ivy's pills hit her so quickly, SMs don't really knock on doors of ensemble members, and if she was as loopy as she seemed, they probably wouldn't have let her on stage;

    – No-one who isn't associated with the show is allowed past the stage door after half-hour, especially just to drop off glasses (with the Stage Manager??). Absolutely no chance that Karen would be standing in the wings during the show.

    – Ivy would never have gotten out of the theatre in her costume, let alone been allowed to parade through Times Square and a liquor store with it. Even if she busted out of the theatre before she could be stopped, any number of folks would have run after her – out of concern, sure…but mostly to get that costume back in the building.

    Love the blog SW!

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