“Peter Pan Live” Airs on NBC

Allison Williams and Christopher Walken Star

Peter Pan Live!On December 4, 2014, NBC continued its now annual tradition of airing a theatrical production filmed exclusively for television. Last year, NBC had a stupendous success with their airing of a live production of The Sound of Music, amassing 22 million viewers for the special, which was produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (the producers of the Oscars as well as many musical films such as Chicago and Hairspray). This year, the same producing team mounted a production of Peter Pan, adapting the version first produced in 1954. Following in a tradition led by Mary Martin and Cathy Rigby of a female portraying the young boy, Allison Williams (Girls) was cast as Peter Pan. In addition, Christopher Walken (A Behanding in Spokane, Hurlyburly) portrayed Captain Hook, Christian Borle (Peter and the Starcatcher) played Smee, Kelli O’Hara (The Bridges of Madison County) played Mrs. Darling, and Minnie Driver played the adult Wendy and the narrator. The broadcast, though not as successful as last year’s The Sound of Music, brought in 9.129 million viewers.

Sometimes Growing Up Is Not So Bad photo

Allison Williams is a star who has recently skyrocketed to national recognition, and this performance certainly took her notoriety one step further than the already immense fame she has garnered for her supporting role on Lena Dunham’s Girls on HBO. It’s not an accident that her father is Brian Williams, managing editor and anchor of NBC nightly news for over 20 years. Still, it’s hard to resent the nepotism involved here, because both father and daughter are so sweetly earnest. This photo is a screen shot of a recent facebook post Allison Williams made on her personal profile, showing how she has yearned to play this role since the age of 2 and a half. And her father was the first to announce the casting on his news show, adorably citing how this is a role she has always longed to play, and he should know, as he’s her father. This was an interesting way for Williams to foray into professional stage performance, as the broadcast had elements of both stage and screen performance. Whereas the musical was written and principally staged for the full-scale live stage performance, there were also elements that were only possible due to the filmed format, such as a larger set and cast and more diverse camera angles. Walken was cited to express ambivalence about this duality of performance methods, as he wasn’t thrilled about having a stage show broadcast to millions without the usual weeks of rehearsals and previews given to a Broadway show, and also that he’s never quite sure when the camera was even on him.

Firmly Mixed Reviews

peter panEven prior to the airing on Thursday evening, Williams conducted several interviews in which she predicted that many people would “hate-watch” the special, but also expecting that once they sat down to view it, it would be difficult to realize the “hate” part of the equation. Perhaps her self-aware semi-cynicism stems from her friendship with fellow millennial stars such as Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke, who would never be caught dead performing in such a classically un-ironical role such as this one (though Dunham probably wishes she could be a musical star, but she cannot sing and her comedy stems from a very different place; Kirke honestly would never wish this upon herself). Anyway, Williams was thrust amongst these fellow girls, and does offer a nice juxtaposition to their sentiment on the HBO show, but in this case, she proves herself to be paving the way to a very different career. As for actual reviews, some people loved it, and some people genuinely despised it, but most were somewhere in between. Alessandra Stanley in The New York Times said that Allison “ruined hate-watching,” because she convincingly pulled off the role after all. The Hollywood Reporter lauded Williams’ performance, and considered the entire special a success. Still, musical theatre lover Adam Feldman in Time Out New York came out with perhaps the most objectively accurate response, critiquing the entire show of Peter Pan for not being a first-rate show in the first place, but also critiquing Zadan and Meron for minimizing the inherent theatricality of the piece. Still, he expressed a sincere wish that NBC try again with the live television musical theatre concept next year, which the network has already expressed their intent to do.

The Meredith Vieira Show Premieres This Fall

NBC Universal Grants Vieira Her Own TV Show – Premieres on August 25, 2014

the meredith vieira showMeredith Vieira, who won over the hearts of Americans by hosting Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? for eleven seasons, in addition to her many other television talk show appearances, has finally earned her own show. The Meredith Vieira Show will premiere on Monday, August 25, 2014 produced by NBCUniversal and airing in syndication. The show will be filmed in New York City’s world famous 30 Rockefeller Plaza with a live studio audience. This daytime talk show will have six episodes a week, with tapings taking place twice a day every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am and 3:00pm. The producers of The Meredith Vieira Show are inviting audience members to attend this exciting premiere taping on August 25th free of charge! The show will feature celebrity guests, interactive games, human interest stories, and a slew of other surprises, and free tickets can be acquired by phone or online, by calling 212-664-3056, or by visiting the website www.meredithvieirashow.com/tickets.

Viera’s Incredible Career Escalation: News Announcer, 60 Minutes, Millionaire and The View

Vieira’s career began in the mid-1970s as a radio news announcer in Worcester, Massachusetts. She entered the realm of television first in Providence, and then in New York City serving as an investigative reporter at WCBS-TV from 1979 to 1982. Until 1984, she served in Chicago as a reporter for CBS; this is where she first gained national recognition. From 1985 to 1993, she was a correspondent for nationwide news shows including West 57th, 60 Minutes, and finally as co-anchor for CBS Morning News. In 1994, Vieira transitioned from CBS to ABC, first as a regular correspondent for the ABC show Turning Point. Meanwhile, she also hosted the Lifetime channel’s show Intimate Portrait from 1995 to 2004. When The View debuted in 1997, Vieira was its original moderator and co-host, a position she held until June 2006.

the meredith vieira show

In 2002, Meredith Vieira took over Regis Philbin’s position as host of the renowned show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Upon her takeover, the show transitioned from being aired only on ABC to being nationally syndicated. In January 2013, after eleven seasons, Vieira announced that she would be leaving Millionaire after filming over 1,800 episodes and awarding contestants over $70,000,000.00. Meanwhile, upon departing The View in 2006, Vieira accepted the position of succeeding Katie Couric as co-anchor on the NBC show Today. Her contract stipulated that she would not appear on Today for any hours that conflicted with Millionaire; as such, she rarely appeared in the third or fourth hours of the show. She remained in her position on Today until 2011. In 2012, Vieira co-hosted the NBC coverage of the London Summer Olympic Games, and for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, she became the first woman to be a solo anchor NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.

The Meredith Vieira Show

Now with the premiere of The Meredith Vieira Show, her career has reached a new height. Distributed by NBCUniversal, the Meredith-viera-350x265show has already been sold to 98% of the United States, and it has also been picked up by CTV in Canada. The show’s band leader will be Everett Bradley, who tours with Bruce Springsteen’s legendary E Street Band. Furthermore, Jon Harris, a close friend of Meredith and her husband Richard, will be the show’s announcer. Harris has had a long career serving as the lead spokesperson for global companies such as the Hillshire Brands Company. It has also been announced that Geoff Rosen and Matthew Strauss will be the show’s co-executive producers, and that Benita Alexander, Angela LaGreca, and Leslie Peirez will be the show’s supervising producers.

Free Tickets To The Show

Free tickets to the premiere of The Meredith Vieira Show taping on August 25th at Studio 6A of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (on West 49th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) are available by requesting at www.meredithvieirashow.com/tickets/ or by calling 212-664-3056. Individuals can book up to four tickets, and there are also group options available.

NBC Execs Bully Celebrities To Not Appear On Competing NYC Shows

FALLON’S RATINGS SUCCESS PROMPTS NBC TO STRONG HOLD STARS

There is good news and bad news in the talk show arena.  The good news is for Jimmy Fallon.  His successful ratings have breathed new life into The Tonight Show, so much so, that NBC has begun demanding exclusivity in order for A list guests to appear on the late night program.  The bad news is that other talk shows are going to have a difficult time getting these guests to appear on their lineups.  This moratorium on appearing on other shows doesn’t only include the late night circuit but also the morning talk shows.

jimmy-fallon-jimmy-kimmel wrestle onstage at the Academy Awards 2014For Press Agents this is also bad news. Whenever a star releases a film, a book or is featured on a new television series it is typical to do a press junket.  This allows the star to be seen on as many talk shows as possible to promote their newest venture.  NBC’s proposal will alter the entire method used by press agents to get their stars media attention.  It is interesting to note that by having The Tonight Show relocated to New York City the ability for stars to appear on multiple talk shows in a short period of time increased.  When Jay Leno and Johnny Carson hosted in Los Angeles it required a cross country flight to be seen on Late Night with David Letterman.  The unusual focus of NBC’s move was not to have first rights to a star appearance but to have all rights to a star appearance.

In August a foreshadowing of this type of exclusivity was evident on The Colbert Report when Daft Punk pulled out from the show due to an appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards.  Stephen Colbert deftly skewered this type of move, noting that “once you see a band play a song you like, you obviously never want to see them again.”  The sarcasm  can be applied to  the situation with NBC.  It seems likely if you are a fan of George Clooney and he is on Jimmy Fallon you will still turn in if he is on The View.  The fact is that these shows have different demographics, which is the reason public relations personnel are keen to promote on both programs.  People who are watching at midnight are not often the people watching at 8 AM.  Therefore, NBC demand seems to be an unreasonable reach of a non-compete for artists to adhere to.

The other unknown aspect of this new exclusive demand is that no one knows what will happen to an artist if they choose to ignore the exclusivity.  Will Kim Kardashian never appear on The Tonight Show again if she goes on Late Night or The View after visiting Jimmy Fallon?  As no one knows it will land on the artist and agents to decide this issue.  Daft Punk chose not to appear on The Colbert Report but other artists may not adhere to such pressure.  Only time and the ratings will tell.

Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show” Premieres On NBC To Great Fanfare

Jimmy Fallon on NBC's Tonight Show

It would have been hard for him to disappoint us.  On February 17th, 2014 Jimmy Fallon delighted audiences with an altogether successful inauguration as the new host of NBC’s The Tonight Show.  Stepping into the shoes worn by Jay Leno for 22 of the past 23 years, Fallon may not have struck a perfect balance between nervousness and humility in his first night on the job, yet he won us over with his coy charm and genuine gratitude for the opportunity to star in America’s longest running entertainment program. With Fallon’s initiation, the show has returned from Los Angeles to New York City, its original home from 1954 to 1972.  This has allowed Fallon to remain nearby his hometown of Saugerties in upstate New York – which made it relatively convenient for his parents Jim and Gloria Fallon, who sat proudly in the studio audience, to attend the premiere.  In Fallon’s opening monologue, he introduced himself as a 39 year-old man who lives in New York City with his beautiful wife Nancy and six month-old daughter Winnie, who is the best thing to have ever happened to him.  All in all, he succeeded in presenting himself as a loveable family man to whom the American public can’t help but relate.

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In one of the show’s more memorable bits, Fallon remarks that a buddy of his bet him $100 he would never host The Tonight Show.  Immediately, out walks an impressive procession of Hollywood stars and media icons, handing him $100: Robert DeNiro, Tina Fey, Joe Namath, Rudy Giuliani, Mariah Carey, Tracy Morgan, Joan Rivers, Kim Kardashian, Seth Rogen, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mike Tyson, Lady Gaga, and finally, Stephen Colbert – who opted to spill 10,000 pennies over Fallon, including in his shirt.

In addition to being a major crowd pleaser, this episode served to contextualize Fallon as not only a nice young man, but one who must be really, incredibly cool to have so many famous friends show up for the occasion.  This also helped ground the new The Tonight Show amongst the particularly New York A-list.  Other celebrity appearances included Will Smith, who danced beside Fallon to demonstrate the ‘Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing,’ and U2, who played two songs in front of the New York skyline atop Rockefeller Center, harking back to the Beatles’ final concert on the rooftop of London’s Apple building in 1969.

Fallon’s premiere earned the third highest-ever ratings for The Tonight Show, with 11.3 million viewers tuning in.  The second highest was in May 2009 when Jay Leno stepped down as host for Conan O’Brien’s famously short-lived run, before Leno returned to the position one year later.  The highest was this past February 6th, when Leno retired for apparently the final time (14.6 million people watched).  Fallon’s debut likely benefited from its post-Winter Olympics placement, though that pushed it a half hour later than its regular 11:35pm timeslot.  In comparison to Fallon’s final episode of Late Night, which he hosted for 5 years, his The Tonight Show ratings were higher by 71 percent with an additional 6.6 million viewers.

Jimmy Fallon and Steven Colbert on The Tonight Show

These statistics do not necessarily include all the viewers of segments on YouTube, Hulu, or NBC’s own website.  One of Fallon’s best qualities is his ability to create share-worthy clips that are hilarious out of context, often which make serious people do silly things.  Still, for Fallon to stay atop his game in this new The Tonight Show job, he will need to appeal to the show’s middle-aged Middle America audience, while maintaining his viral fascination.  After all, the argument for Conan O’Brien to step down in 2010 so soon after beginning his tenure was that he had terminally narrow appeal, failing to please the older demographic.  Still, in just four years, our entire culture has become much more YouTube-centric, and perhaps Fallon’s internet-friendly strategy will be enough to keep him afloat.

 

Peter Pan Musical To Be Aired Live on TV

Peter PanIn the wake of the massive ratings success of NBC’s live production of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood, the network has tapped producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan to replicate their success with another live musical event later this year.

The next event will be the live broadcast of a production of the musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan, which has lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Jule Styne and Moose Charlap. Originally produced on Broadway in 1954 with Mary Martin playing Peter Pan, this version features well-known songs like “I Won’t Grow Up” and “I’m Flying”.

“We hope to create the joy that has made this musical so beloved,” stated Meron and Zadon. “We would like a whole new generation to experience Peter Pan and for families across the country to share the magic.”

Casting has not yet been announced for NBC’s live airing of Peter Pan, but the broadcast is scheduled to air on December 4, 2014.

Seth Meyers Inherits Late Night From Jimmy Fallon In New York

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Jimmy Fallon has passed his late night show over to Seth Meyers from SNL fame. Jimmy has owned Late Night for the last five years after Conan O’Brien was booted because of terrible ratings. Subsequently, the NBC executives reinstalled Jay Leno back in The Tonight Show slot. Conan could have taken his Late Show slot back, but chose to go on to host his own show on TBS a year later (and was $12 million richer from the non-compete contract he had with NBC.)

With Jimmy Fallon now graduating to Jay Leno’s slot on The Tonight Show, there leaves a void to be filled on Late Night and Seth Meyers (from NBC’s SNL) gets the pickle passed to him. The new show with Meyers will still be in the after-midnight 12:35am TV show time slot – a slot that is very hard to garner TV audience, especially with so much TV and non-TV competition out there. Seth Meyers “new” version of the show will have a new format and will include some skits lifted straight from SNL, some on-the-street clips, as well as the standard format of the opening monologue and a bunch of interesting guests to boot.

It’s good that the NBC show is recorded at 5PM EST as Meyers is only a year younger than Fallon at the ripe old age of 40. Late Night has a history of burning out the host, who often doesn’t feel any pressure to attract a big audience, but can often feel that their show is going nowhere fast, leading to motivational issues for them and their staff. Graduating to a better time slot is almost unheard of: Conan underlined that, but Fallon managed to buck the trend, showing that it is possible.

The “Passing Of the Pickle” is a tradition created by David Letterman, who departed Light Night many years ago where the staff on the show bestowed a giant plastic pickle upon the fresh faced new host, Conan O’ Brien. Jimmy Fallon, too,  received the pickle from Conan O’Brien, but the tradition goes way back: a number of TV hosts over the years have exchanged the pickle including Jack Paar and Ed Sullivan, who received real pickles from Katz’s deli. The pickle is a metaphor for being passed a lame duck time slot.

Jimmy Fallon vacates the Late Night on February 6, 2014 to get ready for The Tonight Show debut and Seth Meyers starts the new show Late Night on February 24, 2014. No indication yet of what NBC executives expect to see in terms of success or failure, but with their history they may even forget that he is on their channel. With Seth Meyers experience on SNL and on the daytime yakker show Live with Kelly, this should stand him in better than his competition for this slot that reportedly included Alec Baldwin, George Lopez,W. Kamau Bell, Whitney Cummings, Gordon Elliot and Maury Povich, all veterans of the TV circuit.

NBC’s The Tonight Show Returns To New York With Jimmy Fallon At The Helm

Jimmy Fallon Brings the Tnight Show To New York City

Known for his madcap skits on SNL with Justin Timberlake and his youthful stand-up style, Jimmy Fallon has been tasked with bringing The Tonight Show back to New York City after a 50 year hiatus. The show has lived for over five decades in Los Angeles, with Jay Leno most recently at the helm.

It all started with the The Tonight Show with Steve Allen in New York back in 1954. Jack Paar took the show over a few years later and and then Johnny Carson moved the show from New York to Hollywood in 1962. It hasn’t been back to New York City since. Jay Leno and David Letterman had their famed “Late Night Wars” where they fought over the show (Johnny Carson wanted to give it to Letterman, but NBC execs decided otherwise) and now Jay Leno ends his tenure with his two-decade run on The Tonight Show February 6, 2014 with his final guests Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks. Just a few days later on February 17, Jimmy Fallon begins his version of The Tonight Show at midnight. (It’s been placed after NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics for that week, returning to a regular time slot of 11pm the following week).

Jimmy Fallon is lucky enough to have a great lead-in with the Olympics coverage and is anticipated to include some wonderful guests including Sean Connery, Ringo Starr, Madonna, Aaron Paul, and George Clooney. (It’s hoped that NBC’s coverage of the Olympics is better than it has been over the last few years, because this apparent benefit of lead-in ratings could well become a negative if NBC screws it up again. For example, showing events that took place over 24 hours ago, inexplicably cutting away from the highly anticipated Opening Ceremonies to a Ryan Seacrest interview instead, and so on and so forth.)

the tonight show starring Jimmy FallonAs for the void that that Jimmy Fallon leaves at his show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers takes Jimmy’s old slot and so begins yet another round of late show musical chairs. The very first time NBC executives tried to replace Leno was back in June 2009, and it was a complete disaster. They replaced Leno with Conan O’Brien – but with Conan’s lack of mainstream appeal and the NBC executives lack of stomach… (were these really the same  NBC executives that were responsible for green-lighting the sleeper-hit Seinfeld? they must have just gotten lucky) NBC gave it an early bath and landed Conan with a reported $12 Million settlement deal and his own a show on TBS a year later when his NBC non-compete contract expired.

This time around, NBC executives think they can do a better job and Jimmy Fallon gets a try at the brass ring. No word yet on what the backup plan is this time if Fallon fails to garner market share; perhaps Jay Leno is still under contract if Jimmy’s viewer numbers don’t pan out?

Tickets to The Tonight Show with host Jimmy Fallon, which is being shot at the NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, are available at the NBC ticket desk by calling (212) 664-3056. Generally, tickets are booked about 4-6 weeks in advance from the actual taping. Please call Monday-Friday (9am-5pm ET) for availability. Standby tickets are always fair game for these kinds of shows in New York City, but anticipate higher than normal demand at the start of the run, giving way to a reasonable ticket demand as the show settles in.

Newsies Still Packs Them In, a Year After Jeremy Jordan Departed

Newsies Broadway Musical

Newsies Broadway Musical

Encouraged by the New York newsboy strike of 1899, Disney’s cathartic production of Newsies the Musical first premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in the fall of 2011, quickly moving on to the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway in the spring of 2012.  Whether it is because the show has been running on Broadway for an extensive period of time or the show wrestles without an attention reeling name like Jeremy Jordan, this Disney musical has not been living up to its full potential this year, compared to the last. (Jeremy Jordan left Newsies on Sept 4 2012 to pursue his dream of TV fame in the musical drama TV series Smash which aired on NBC and ended its 2nd, and final, season on May 26, 2013)

When Newsies first opened on Broadway in the March of 2012, they were averaging 100.8% in ticket sales and were grossing an average of $937,788.92, in comparison to January of 2013. Up until now they have been averaging 95.6% in ticket sales and are grossing an average of $847,072.23, with a 97% of theatre seats sold on average every night.  Looking at this data, there was not a colossal loss, possibly because in the beginnings of this production, people were so anxious about this musical being an adaptation to the popular 1992 film, starring Christian Bale. Compared to the movie, the musical is much longer and more care and precision have been placed into it.

Recasting has always been a difficult task to execute and even though the show has fared critically in monetary terms, Jeremy Jordan’s replacement, Corey Cott, has been fairly up to par. The emotional build up for every number is not nearly as tantamount to what Jeremy set the standards for, but Corey manages to pull off an astounding performance with a voice similar to Jeremy’s, making up for many of the weak moments to the female lead’s, Kara Lindsay’s, singing. Albeit the humorous, witty journalistic jokes and snappy, energetic attitude, Kara lacks this sort of resilience and strength, for the most part; coming off seemingly reserved and as if she is holding herself back, teetering along the lines of the melody and not quite hitting all of her notes. (Maybe this is due to the exhausting eight-shows-a-week schedule.)

Aside from the exciting dance numbers and character developments, there is exceptional use of the limited space on stage. The construction of the set, along with the essence of New York, is captured quite perfectly. A gate at the top of each moving staircase so that they can connect or detach from each other exacerbates the excitement of the chase-run scenes. The backdrop is tastefully modern, displaying shifting scenery or showing words from a typewriter whenever Kara’s character speaks what she is so furiously typing. Any seat in the house could clearly see what was going on, although being in the front few aisles definitely opens up your eyes to the deliberate sweat dripping and spit flying everywhere.

Even though Disney’s target market is for families of all ages, female fans of the Christian Bale movie of the same name, the audience demographic at this show seems to skew to an older, more mature crowd who may find solace in this hopeful musical because of the very pertinent modern day financial and social struggles.

With tattered corduroys and newsboy cap wearing orphan boys selling newspapers, desperate to make a living out on the cutthroat streets of New York, Newsies pulls at the heartstrings, bringing to mind the toil of making a living on Broadway, or simply the everyday strife that everybody trudges through. With no foul language or anything particularly scandalous to worry about, overall, this show is quite uplifting, entertaining, and sublime for families.

Broadway Themed TV Show Smash Canceled

Smash TV ShowSmash, the NBC television drama that has been a frequent topic of discussion (and sometimes derision) among Broadway fans, will not return to the small screen next season. The final episode of the series will air on May 26.

Starring American Idol alum Katharine McPhee as a young performer pursuing her Broadway dream, Smash spent two seasons charting the creation and development of a Broadway-bound musical about Marilyn Monroe called Bombshell. The sometimes soapy, sometimes comic drama offered a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Broadway, spotlighting songwriters, directors, producers, and more.

Created and produced by playwright Theresa Rebeck (Dead Accounts), Rebeck was replaced with showrunner Joshua Safran (Gossip Girl) in the show’s second season, but ratings continued to fall. During its run, the cast of Smash boasted many Broadway regulars, including Christian Borle (Peter and the Starcatcher), Jeremy Jordan (Newsies), and Megan Hilty (Wicked). Other series regulars included Anjelica Huston, Jack Davenport, and Debra Messing.

Broadway and TV Star Sean Hayes to Join Cast of Smash

Sean Hayes

It will be a Will & Grace reunion on NBC’s primetime Broadway soap Smash this coming season when Sean Hayes (who played Will & Grace‘s flamboyant scene-stealer Jack McFarland on the successful sitcom) joins the much-buzzed-about television show featuring Debra Messing (Grace herself) for a multi-episode arc.

Hayes, who recently impressed Broadway in the revival of Promises, Promises as office drone Chuck Baxter, will play a character not unlike himself, a comic television star who is making his Broadway debut.  Though unlike Hayes, who wisely chose a musical comedy to show off his Broadway chops, his Smash counterpart will be starring in a musical version of the seductive drama Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

It has been reported that Sean Hayes’ character, named Terrence Falls, will cause difficulty’s for Smash‘s talented-but-overshadowed Broadway trouper Ivy (Megan Hilty).  But it’s not yet known how much screen time he will share with his old TV castmate Debra Messing, who plays Broadway show scribe Julia.