“Smash” Series Premiere: “Let Me Be Your Star!”

 
 

Back at home Julia’s freaking out about the video, railing in particular about how The New York Post‘s Michael Riedel will react, pre-emptively calling him an idiot and a creep. Of course Riedel ends up blogging pure love for it so of course Julia retracts her hating on him. Karen watches the video at her apartment and sings along.

An indeterminate time later in an anonymous conference room, Broadway producer Eileen Rand (Angelica Huston) stares out the window and declares the revised divorce settlement “a joke.” Husband and producing partner Jerry (Michael Cristofer) accuses her of being vindictive. She turns and stares holes through him. I love Huston’s glorious hatchet face, looking like she should be nailed to the prow of an 18th Century sailing ship. He retreats to “unrealistic.”

They wrangle back and forth and the upshot is if they don’t reach an agreement everything goes into escrow. Eileen tells Jerry that she’s been working on the My Fair Lady revival for three years (and it’s just now being announced in the trades?) and asks if he really wants, in light of the good years they had together, to “put a bullet in it.” He makes the fatal reply, “Is this your version of begging, Eileen?” She ices over and tells him she’ll see him in court.

Probably that same day, Julia and Tom disembark from a cab to find Ellis sitting on Tom’s front step. He offers a fumbling apology and a bag of croissants. He tells them that he worked props for his high school production of their first hit, Three on a Match (man, they really are bad at titles, aren’t they?) and that while he was doing that, he felt “whole.” Tom softens and accepts Ellis’ buttery bribe over Julia’s resistance, telling Ellis he’d be interested on getting his input on Marilyn: The Musical, since it was Ellis’ idea. Tom, sweetie, that is not the sort of thing you say in front of witnesses! You know that when the show’s a hit Ellis is going to come sniffing around for a slice of the pie.

Upstairs Tom tells Ellis they have an outline and three songs, including the baseball number (which I’m guessing is entitled “The National Pastime”). Julia demands Ellis hand over his cell phone.

Some indeterminate time in the future, Tom and Julia meet with Eileen, who wants to produce Marilyn. They protest it’s too early but she presses on, suggesting Derek Wills (Jack Davenport) to direct. Julia’s open to the idea but there’s bad blood between Tom and Derek from a previous project. Eileen suggests showing him the material and having him stage one number. Tom’s intrigued at the idea of making Derek crawl for a job but the duo delicately broach the subject of Eileen’s wherewithal to produce a new show in light of her divorce. She brushes aside their concerns but clearly she’s feeling some desperation to shore up her reputation by getting attached to a high-profile project.

Later she meets Derek for drinks and he’s skeptical. Also, he wants to do My Fair Lady. Eileen tells him that Marilyn was “the American Eliza Doolittle,” which is an intriguing notion, and passes him the material and asks him to put something together.

He flatly refuses to audition, but a quick cut to some indeterminate future date finds him rehearsing Ivy and a bevy of lovely chorus boys. Eileen, Julia, Tom and Ellis arrive and the company launches into “The National Pastime.” It’s a cute, saucy call-and-response number and it establishes what I’m assuming will be a recurring motif as the number shifts back and forth from the rehearsal room to the stage with the performers in full costume. Including in this instance some quite sexy baseball uniforms that do the chorus boys all kinds of favors. The lyric “A baseball diamond is a girl’s best friend” is a bit clunky and the use of bats as boner substitutes is obvious (which isn’t to say it’s not hot) but it’s a solid number, much better in my opinion than “Never Give All the Heart.”

Amidst the general congratulations Tom perceives that Derek has snubbed Ivy. He concedes that Derek’s work is brilliant but despises the idea of putting anything in Derek’s hands, because of their history and because “He’s a terrible human being!” Who, um, is still in the room and can hear you.

Sometime later that night Derek expresses equal reluctance to work with Tom to Eileen. She promises to get Tom on board by the weekend but Derek tells her that her soon-to-be-ex Jerry has a film project for him. He also questions her need to prove she’s “still in the game” but she ripostes that she doesn’t need to prove it. Oh honey, yes you do.

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