This kind of thing makes me batty: Producer Ken Davenport tells theater folks it's our duty to watch Smash tonight:
It's about Broadway, it's shot on Broadway, it's written by a Broadway writer, directed by a Broadway Director, and stars a whole bunch of Broadway peeps.I call bullshit on this, for two reasons. First, the show's Broadway pedigree is what makes the thundering mediocrity of Smash, whose pilot I barely managed to get through last week, so disappointing. Shaiman, Rebeck, Mayer, and the show's estimable cast have turned out something so false, tired, and pandering that the word "cliché" is barely adequate. I'm not a snob; I can enjoy trashy, manipulative TV, but Smash doesn't even satisfy on that level. (I'll qualify this by admitting that a TV show's overall quality can't always be judged by its pilot.)
And if there was one thing that could have an atomic bomb-like impact on Broadway theatergoing, Smash is it.
Secondly, does anyone really think that the Broadway brand is buoyed by a backstager full of fictional characters putting together a fictional musical? It's not as if anyone will be able to fly to NY and score tickets to the show's Marilyn Monroe musical, because it doesn't exist. (If Smash somehow becomes such a phenomenon that said musical does actually find its way to Broadway, I will eat my Kangol hat.)
I'll concede to Davenport a point he doesn't quite make: If Smash is a hit—and hey, I wouldn't begrudge these talented people a success, as long as I don't have to watch it—it will have a big national impact...on aspiring performers, writers, composers, directors etc., who will flock in even greater numbers to New York with Broadway as their North Star, in much the same way glamourous primetime soaps shows like L.A. Law allegedly swelled the ranks of law schools back in the 1980s. It would be a mixed blessing, but hardly lamentable, if another generation of performers looked beyond the autotuned Glee to the stage, the punishing, glorious arena where true performing talent is forged.