We all know that NBC has a new series about Broadway coming up, don’t we? Of course we do. Both because yay! Series about Broadway!! And also because it seems like their advertising campaign has been ‘trickle out teasers for what feels like a year and a half’.
I am excited about Smash. They have hired some great people, and I deeply love my industry and would be thrilled if a series about all the drama inherent in making a musical was realistic and great. That being said, while I am crossing my fingers and holding my breath and all, I have a few slight apprehensions, including this:
Now, first of all, let’s discuss that bottom bit, shall we? ‘The Monday After Super Bowl XLVI’. That’s great, NBC. Way to target THE ONLY INDUSTRY IN THE WORLD THAT DOESN’T KNOW WHEN THAT IS. Seriously, I looked at that and thought, the Super Bowl, eh? What’s that, March-ish? I also appreciate that they added the roman numerals of which Super Bowl it is, as though that would be more helpful than a tagline saying ‘The Monday after the big game which is played in ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’. (Although to be fair, the image above is old – the newer versions of this ad, as featured in Playbills this month, say the date (February 6th) and ‘After The Voice’, which is a much better cross pollination.)
And now, let’s address the top bit. Specifically, ‘and introducing Katharine McPhee’. To whom, exactly, NBC? Katharine McPhee has been kicking around the theater world for a while, so we already know her, thanks. She’s also been in wide-released films such as ‘The House Bunny’, so there’s that, and oh, what’s that other thing she was on? Oh, right, that little obscure show that nobody watches called AMERICAN IDOL. So, way to discover her, NBC. I’m eating a sandwich right now on a delicious thing called Rye Bread – I’m considering introducing that to the world too.
Phew, got a little snarky there, sorry. That’s just been irking me since the very first preview, all those many long months ago, and I had to get it off my chest. I apologize.
But speaking of getting things off different body parts, let’s move on to the main image of this poster, shall we?
Clearly, NBC is aiming to make Katharine McPhee a big star. And their tagline, ‘stars aren’t born, they’re made’ has that nifty double meaning, both within the plot of the show and in NBC’s PR campaign. However, if you look closely at that picture of McPhee, they might also have meant making a star literally, as in ‘out of spare body parts’. Look closely – her head is at an odd angle, like it’s just recently been attached to this neck and is still a little delicate, and she looks like she’s had some neck removed. The arm on our right, while stick-skinny (sadly, that might not be photoshop’s fault), looks okay, but the left is less an arm and more a freakish elbow-less flipper:
Nor do the rest of the grabby folks in the photo fare much better. This is an attractive cast, but this poster makes them all look grim and slightly ill, like they’re in the first stages of a horrible plague that causes them to become mindless zombies whose only goal is to reach for Kat McPhee’s boobs, their last conscious thought being that they need to fire their agents.
As for the pile-up, when I first saw this, I thought, oh, this is obvious. It was released around the holidays, so they were capitalizing on this weird Christmas tree shape, with their star at the top, natch. But the more I looked at it, the more that didn’t seem quite right. Because everyone looks so darn grim, and with the red and the black and the murky background, plus the reaching and the grasping severed hands at the bottom, it looks less ‘Broadway!’ and more Hieronymus Bosch.
Just for comparison, let’s take a look at this hellscape image, called ‘Souls Burning In Hell’, as taken from a website called christian-myspace-layouts.com (by the way, Christian-who-uses-an-image-of-souls-burning-in-hell-as-your-background-of-a-social-networking-site: THIS IS WHY YOU HAVE NO FRIENDS):
I mean, let’s be honest – throw Angelica Houston in there and a few pairs of tap shoes, and that could be the next promo poster for ‘Smash’.
So look, NBC. I’ve worked on Broadway shows before, and I know that it can be brutal at times. But you know what it’s never been? So brutal that a group of vaguely ill, similarly-dressed* people must pile on top of each other and some grasping severed arms to grab at a tragically flippered lady. And you know what else working on Broadway it can be? Really, awesomely fun. And I really hope that your show is about that too.
Although technically, I would probably also watch a show about zombies going after Katharine McPhee’s boobs, so I guess it’s really up to you.
*On a separate note, can we just declare a moratorium for a while on black and red being the official ‘Broadway’ colors? It makes me think that those ladies in the red tights who hawk Chicago around the TKTS booth were just members of some alien race who have officially colonized.