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This Business Called "Show"

Covering the business of acting and the new show Smash.


Though one might think my sole talent is "monkey and poop jokes," I'll have you know I'm actually extremely talented in one other area: ACTING!! Before I became America's most un-beloved TV columnist, I was a practitioner of the THE-UH-TAH. (That's "theater" for those who don't speak "annoying.") What roles did I play? WELL! Ever heard of a little play called Hamlet? Me, neither. Sounds dumb and boring. HOWEVER! I have auditioned for many of the great community THE-UH-TAHS, and once came very close to scoring the role of Eva Peron in the Dubuque Little Theater production of Evita. Ahhh... I remember the audition like it was yesterday... (INSERT WAVEY "DREAM" LINES HERE.)

I walked onto the empty stage and faced the musical's director, producer, and pianist. Clearing my throat I announced, "I am Wm.™ Steven Hump-Me, and I am here to play... EVITA!" (I did that last part with an elaborate hand flourish.) Apparently I'd yet to impress them, because I heard the director mumble, "Okay, Mister... 'Hump-Me,' was it? Let's start with a song. Do you need accompaniment?" "Ohhhhhh, no, no, no, no, NO!" I laughed. "I brought my own!" And running off stage, I returned wearing a huge marching band bass drum, which I began loudly banging while skipping around the stage singing, "I feeel pretty! OH! So pretty! I feeeel pretty and witty and GAAAAAAY! And I pity... ."

That's about as far as I got with that particular audition. Obviously my talent was too huge for Dubuque.

Anyhoo, I was reminded of my glory days in the THE-UH-TUH after watching the premiere episode of Smash (debuting this Monday, Feb 6, 10 pm). Produced by Steven Spielberg, this dishy new series revolves around the backstage antics of a Broadway musical, and... WAIT! DON'T WALK AWAY YET! It's not as terrible as it sounds! Debra Messing of Will & Grace stars as... WAIT! STOP WALKING AWAY! Give me a second! Messing is one-half of a Broadway songwriting duo penning a musical about Marilyn Monroe, and... OKAY, FINE WALK AWAY. This is getting waaaay too hard to defend.

For those still reading (thank you, btw), before Messing and Co. can get their project off the ground they have to battle a money-hungry producer (Anjelica Huston), a temperamental/horny director (Jack Davenport), TWO competing actresses (Broadway's Megan Hilty and American Idol's Katharine McPhee), and a world (The World) who thinks this is just the most terrible idea ever.

HOWEVER! As it turns out, Smash is a pretty dead-on account of the petty backstage shenanigans that transpire on Broadway - and to a lesser degree theaters across the nation. Its characters are hilariously earnest, the music is pretty good, and everything's super glitter-coated with a heapin' helpin' of GAY (in a good way). If you can make it past the first 20 minutes, there's a good chance you may get hooked on its soapy charms. So unless you'd rather dig your eyes out with a rusty railroad spike than watch anything that has to do with the THE-UH-TUH, maybe give Smash a shot.

(It's somewhat better than me skipping around, banging a bass drum and singing, "I Feel Pretty.")

I feeeel pretty (on Twitter).

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