The new casting director: reality television

One thing everyone agreed on:  The Grease reality show, You’re The One That I Want, sucked . . . hard.

What no one could agree on was whether the idea of casting through a reality television series was a blemish on the beautiful Broadway process, or if it was a marketing coup.

The argument is about to resurface with the upcoming Legally Blonde reality television show on MTV.

Sorry to say but there isn’t a black or white answer on whether or not it’s appropriate.  Like most things in life, you have to weigh the many factors surrounding the decision before making it.  The big question . . . what show are you casting?

Grease makes sense.  It’s immensely popular with the public and everyone on the planet has done the show.  In fact, when I worked on the revival of Grease in 1994, I mentioned to Jim Jacobs, the author, that I had played Kenickie in a summer theater production (that’s me in the photo). He looked at me, smiled, and said, "Ken . . . I haven’t met anyone who HASN’T done the show."

So Grease and reality television go together like rama-lama-ding-dong.  If I was the producer of Grease and I had the opportunity for a television show, I would have hula-hooped at the chance. 

If I was producing Hamlet?  No.  August:  Osage CountySpring Awakening?  Not gonna happen.  It doesn’t make sense.

Legally Blonde
?  On the same network that aired a live version of the show?  You bet your Bundy I would.

For the shows that it’s appropriate for, it’s a marketing bonanza.  And not only for the show, but also for Broadway in general.

Because as much as You’re The One That I Want did suck (hard), even sucking on television means millions and millions of people every Sunday night hearing the words Broadway over and over, and hearing how people dream about getting there. 

And that’s good for all of us.

(Oh, and no comments on why I’m standing on a 1969 Volkswagon Beetle in a production of Grease that i ssupposed to take place in 1957, because I have no flippin’ idea.  Summer stock, baby.  Summer stock.)

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.