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If you own a television, you probably know that NBC’s Smash is set to be the “next big thing” this season. Starring Debra Messing of Will and Grace fame, the always amazing Anjelica Huston (though I still hold an irrational grudge against her for being at Roman Polanski’s the night he raped that girl), some other people who seem familiar but I don’t know by name, and former American Idol Katherine McPhee. Since I spend and arm and a leg and a kidney on cable, I was able to catch a “sneak peek” of Smash On Demand, and let me tell you, if you have even an iota of interest in the arts, you are gonna love this show.
For me, my favorite part of the show is the glimpse, albeit surely over-dramatized, into what life is like trying to “make it.” I’ve always felt a connection to the world of creating art: in addition to being a writer, photographer, and illustrator, I also played violin throughout high school. I even briefly considered pursing it and have continued playing off-and-on since college in community orchestras or “summer stock” musicals. Because of my time in the music and arts community, I have friends living all over this country who have dedicated themselves to their passions for acting, music, writing or dance and, unlike some people who just want to be famous and hope for a big break, these people live their craft. They do anything and everything they can to be the best at what they do, practicing for hours, taking any job they can get, sharing their talent for free. And, while some of them have had moments in the spotlight here and there*, most struggle to make it all work out. But at the end of the day, all are doing what makes them who they are, even when no one is watching. They can’t not practice their craft, whether it makes any sense or not in our society.
Smash is a show about those people, the ones who dream of creating emotional moments for everyone else to enjoy. It has everything that made Fame so amazing and popular back in 1980, except that now you get to see what happens when those kids leave the performing arts high school and try to afford NYC apartments. You also get to see what it takes to get a show off the ground and not just the fun singing and dancing, but also the business side, the political side, the production side… All accompanied by the inevitable struggles between creative and practical, work and family, performer and performer… I’m really, really excited about this new drama and I hope that the pilot is just the beginning of how engaging it can be. Here’s a link to an extended sneak peek featuring the great Steven Spielberg himself. It also appears that the pilot is available at NBC.com, at least for now. Seriously, give the show a shot, despite the annoying hype. It might just live up to it.
On a final note, I can’t imagine the pressure put on Katherine McPhee to be cast as someone who has that “thing”: she’s supposed to play it in the show, but also be it for the series. And if the goosebumps I got during her singing numbers are any indication, she might just pull it off. Couple this with the fact that I really am rooting for her to get the lead role, despite the fact that the other woman is also talented and has been working steadily and patiently to get her “big break”, and I think people will soon forget her not-so-awesome turn in House Bunny. I guess we all have to start somewhere, right?
* Most notably one of my dearest and oldest friends Jennifer played Carnegie Hall this spring to rave reviews by the New York Times. I can’t not brag about that… or think of her when I think of the dedication and sheer will it takes to be a musician. Bravo, lady!