I really like that comic. Isaiah was talking about (a) taking on Barack's running against Congress strategy and (b) doing a different look for one comic. So he managed to do both with this one and to bring in Matt Lauer's pre-Superbowl interview that was a huge, huge embarrassment.
So it turned out really well, I thought.
"TV: Smash and Smush" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Smash is an excellent show, the only hour show to debut in the 2011-2012 season that stands with Revenge as the best TV has to offer. It works from the start and that's because Debra Messing (Will & Grace, Ned & Stacey, The Starter Wife) is hitting all the right notes in her welcome return to NBC Mondays (where Will & Grace started). Messing's Julia wants to adopt a baby with husband Frank (Brian d'Arcy) so she's taking time off, a year to work on that . . . except her writing partner Tom (Christian Borle) tempts her with the idea and then, later, a melody he's written for a proposed musical about Marilyn Monroe (he's come up with three actually). Julia's response is no, no, no, but . . .
Marilyn Monroe is a legend. An actress who moved from key supporting parts in films such as the Marx Brothers' Love Happy and Bette Davis' classic All About Eve to starring roles in The Seven Year Itch (BAFTA nomination for Best Foreign Actress), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Jane Russell, Bustop (Golden Globe nomination), How to Marry a Millionaire with Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable, The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier (BAFTA nomination and Crystal Star Award winner) and the film classic, which won her the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress in Comedy or Musical, Some Like It Hot. Her lovers included brothers JFK and RFK, her husbands included playwright Arthur Miller and baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. Details of her 1962 death (at the age of 36) are still argued and disputed. Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino and Michelle Williams are among the actresses who've played her (Williams is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress this year for her role in My Week with Marilyn) and Madonna and Mariah Carey are among those who've paid tribute in music videos.
An entire library's worth of books on Marilyn have been published including Joyce Carol Oates' Blonde, Anthony Summers' Goddess, Tim Coates' Marilyn Monroe: The FBI Files, Lena Pepitone and William Stadiem's Marilyn Monroe Confidential (a mass paperback which landed in supermarkets across America in the 80s -- a rarity for a book that contained a fold out of Marilyn's calendar nude), Gloria Steinem's Marilyn: Norma Jean (Gloria discussed her book with Richard Heffner on Open Mind -- link is video and transcript), Truman Capote's Music for Chameleons, Barbara Leaming's Marilyn, Donald Spoto's Marilyn Monroe: The Biography, Susan Strasberg's Marilyn and Me, Colin Clark's The Prince the Showgirl and Me, Bert Stern's The Last Sitting, Peter Harry Brown and Patte B. Barham's The Last Take, Norman Mailer's Marilyn, and J. Randy Taraborrelli's wretched The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (so awful it inspired a parody of him -- a bad biographer loose with facts -- in a TV episode that aired last month on ABC). The books are so numerous, in fact, that just last March, Larry McMurtry was reviewing three new ones for The New York Review of Books (Marilyn Monroe's Fragments: Poems, Intimates Notes, Letters; Andrew O'Hagan's The Life and Opinons of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe and Lois Banner's MM--Personal: From the Private Archives of Marilyn Monroe) while last June sparked-early-and-then-petered-out playwright David Mamet used Marilyn and Gloria Steinem to flaunt his own sexism at The National Review (the essay is adapted from an equally bad book)*. Point being, this August will be the fiftieth anniversary of her death and she's never left the American imagination -- left, right, center, apathetic, standing off to the side, above, under, she belongs to all of America and, internationally, may be one of the best ambassadors the United States has ever had.
The idea of Marilyn infects Julia the same way it did her partner, despite the plan to take the year off. She's haunted by a remark Marilyn makes in her final interview, "Please don't make me a joke." So she ends up agreeing to do the musical with Tom. Tom and Julia get Ivy (Megan Hilty) to work on numbers as Marilyn (and are convinced she would be great in the role) including one that Tom's assistant Ellis tapes with his cell phone, sends to his mother who apparently shares it with others causing it to go viral. This leads to an acid-tongue critic blogging about it in Debra's showcase scene in the pilot where Julia starts appalled, angry and upset as her husband Frank pulls it up on the laptop and tells her it's a rave and she instantly begins hailing the "Napoleonic Nazi" as a misunderstood genius.
It's that review and the buzz on a new musical from Julia and Tom that brings producer Eileen Rand (Angelica Huston -- returning to NBC Mondays as well -- her performace as Cynthia Keener on Medium earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress-Drama Series) to the table. It's going to be a huge smash, this Marilyn musical and she wants on board and she has been speaking to Derek Willis (Jack Davenport of TV's Coupling -- British edition -- and FlashFoward), the hot director, and he loves the project and wants to direct.
This was a really great piece by Ava and C.I. They really wanted to cover Smash and to do so before it aired so people would be geared to watch. It's a strong show.
I watched it. Anjelica Huston was reason enough for me but I also really enjoyed Debra Messing's character. I liked all the cast. The boyfriend of Katharine McPhee was really good. I thought it added to their relationship when he helped her with the Sugar Kane yacht scene from Some Like It Hot.
But Anjelica's the reason I tuned in.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):