This “Tale of Two Ingenues” is designed to appeal to people who like more show tunes and less Gaga
provides, and it raises the question of whether having a male psycho stalker has made (executive producer) Steven Spielberg
gay. The pilot opens on an audition scene where a beautiful young woman (Katherine McPhee
) in a sparkly silver dress is singing the gay anthem “Somewhere over the rainbow,” against a starry midnight blue background. Then the fantasy dissolves and the same girl, singing the same song, is cut off by the central casting agent at the table, played by a wizened Kate Clinton
, the geriatric lesbian stand up comic and wife of socialist scribbler Urvashi Vaid. The girl auditioning bends over to put down her bag and Ms. Clinton, like her presidential namesake, joins the camera in appreciating the girl’s round, firm, denim clad buttocks. Next scene: Debra Messing
, playing a now grown up Grace
character “Julia Houston,” in the kitchen of her gay business partner Tom Levitt (2007 Tony Award winner Christian Borle). Her new gay is a kind of fusion of Will
and Jack, and they are a musical theater writing team. He seems to play the piano and write the music and lyrics, so she must write the plot and dialogue, or perhaps she really has just left Will & Grace
‘s Grace Adler Designs to join a witness protection program and leave off doing interiors so she can instead do sets.
The duo have actually been taking a break from the biz. He has just come back from a trip and has hired a new assistant; she is trying to take time off so she and her husband can adopt a baby. But everyone keeps mentioning Marilyn Monroe and how much they like Marilyn Monroe, and how Marilyn would make a great muscial. And then they all start to discuss how there can be a baseball number. His new assistant, her teen son and husband, everyone reacts the same way to the idea. And so three numbers are written, including an ode to the love of Joe DiMaggio, ending in chorus boys dancing with baseball bats singing “baseball diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
Anjelica Huston (“Eileen Rand”) appears as a kind of heterosexual Rosie O’Donnell, a big purse who backs Broadway productions. Like Rosie sometimes is, Anjelica is tied up in a divorce and so is her money. But she manages to hire choreographer Derek Wills (BBC’s Coupling‘s Jack Davenport, a little aged but still sexy) from London’s West End. Derek doesn’t like gay men, which Anjelica Huston observes may be an occupational hazard on Broadway. Levitt refuses to work with Wills. For a few minutes I am expecting to learn that they have a romantic history and see the resolution achieved by the two of them in bed. Instead, their two respective gal pals nudge them into cooperation. And Wills (Davenport) gets to establish his heterosexuality by attempting to get one of the ingenues on the casting couch.
There are lots of subplots: two women fighting over the same starring role; Huston’s divorce; Messing’s marriage and adoption; a probably gay assistant to Messing’s gay business partner who may be using seduction to steal from and spy on the writing partners. It looks good.
Smash premiers February 6, but if you are very close friends with Infinity on Demand you can watch it now, in between the 39th and 40th Presidential Debates.