The NBC reality TV show Grease - You're the One That I Want has finally chosen its winners: Laura Osnes and Max Crumm are to be the Danny and Sandy treading the boards on Broadway come July 2007.
This NBC reality trip was at best uncomfortable and other times frustrating -- this TV show may even have put Broadway show development back 20 years due to its portrayal of Broadway as being uninspired and lackluster to a mass TV audience, most of whom have never seen a Broadway Show in New York.
The production wasn't much better. What the show lacked in personality (which was considerable), it made up the difference with brute force. Many people found that although they were big fans of the Grease musical and movie before seeing this show, now they have had their fill of the '50s shtick and will probably pass on the Broadway Show. Billy Bush and Denise Van Outen added very little to the already low value of this show, as Billy's upbeat sensibilities were grossly outweighed by Denise's porn-star looks and awkward delivery.
The TV ratings weren't much better - always in the low millions, which is not good for a TV show that is practically a direct copy of a 30 million viewer Fox show called American Idol. When the TV ratings and the amount of telephone votes are not publicly released or discussed on the show, it's clear that the show is in trouble. What American Idol discovered a long time ago is success is all in the casting of the panel and selective editing of footage. While the Grease - You're the One That I Want panel -- made up of Grease co-author Jim Jacobs, producer and money man David Ian, and director Kathleen Marshall -- was undoubtedly qualified to be there, it was an overwhelmingly boring trio. Making a bad situation worse was the introduction of celebrity judges like Olivia Newton-John, who "Just loved everybody," (and appeared on Americam Idol the same week) and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who no-one could understand - The show ignored reality TV show lessons that American Idol has long since learned.
Given the poor ratings and lack of buzz, it's amazing that NBC did not cut this show early on. NBC has previously demonstrated that they are not scared of a mid-season cancel, no matter what the cost (see: Last Comic Standing, which was cancelled the night before the final show!). But this time they decided to finish what they started, and on March 25th 2007, it was revealed that Laura Osnes and Max Crumm had been chosen by the home viewers to star in the upcoming Broadway revival of Grease.
Website forums abound with conspiracy theories about the final selections and advantage of Laura (Small Town Sandy) and Max (Slacker Danny) over the other finalists, Ashley Spencer (Ballerina Sandy) and Austin Miller (I-have-been-working-on Broadway-for-years Danny). One obvious incident happened on the final competitive show on March 18th. At the end of the mixed duet set, Max Crumm planted a lingering kiss directly on Laura Osnes's mouth - clearly when the choreography called for cheek-to-cheek face to camera and pan out. On closer inspection the kiss appears to contain some tongue slippage and although Laura does back off slightly, she does not reject the advance, as the camera moves left to follow her out of her lean. This separated Laura and Max as having chemistry together and may well have swung the vote in their favor. Laura's upcoming wedding nuptials makes this event more interesting, but the forums abound with theories that NBC asked the couple to get hot and heavy to tip the balance in their favor.
|See the kiss that clinched the win for Laura and Max|
With the Grease Reality TV show thankfully over, it remains to be seen if any other reality show development deal will tap the Broadway show market for content. Perhaps the determining factor will be whether or not America's choice for Sandy and Danny, Laura Osnes and Max Crumm, are able to prove that they can in fact carry a Broadway show.
Grease opens on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre for previews in July 2007 with the official opening set for August.