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David T. Cole

The Ivy League

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Hello everyone! I'm a long time lurker at the TWoP Smash thread and also imdb smash board.

 

I was at the imdb Smash forum and saw someone posting a comment from datalounge and I just had to make an account and post this.

It seems to be an insider talking about Spielberg's dislike for Megan Hilty. 

Not sure if I should start a rumour thread or if it's okay to talking about it here, but here goes (If this should indeed be in a separate thread, just let me know and I will create one or someone can make it):

 

I shouldn't really say too much, but it's anonymous here, so what the hell: Spielberg did not like overt theatricality and he did not like Megan. Every note he gave was about how her part should be recast. His notes were often personal and not constructive, and he rallied other producers to join this bandwagon. Other members of the creative team stepped in to defend her and her job, and were punished for doing so: Theresa Rebeck's first fight with producers was over Megan, which set the tone for the first season and her departure, and Marc and Scott were "punished" for defending Megan by having their contributions eventually reduced to just Megan's storylines, which they were not unhappy about...

As feedback rolled in during the first year, and it was mostly negative, Spielberg became convinced that his fixation on Megan was correct and he stepped up his attacks in what I personally believe was a campaign to drive her away from the show. It got to the bullying or hazing level. That's when Bob Greenblatt stepped in and white-knighted Megan, since he was a big fan of hers after seeing her in the LA run of Wicked. There were a couple other little toxicities floating around the production at the time and Bob cleaned house on all of them. He also became Spielberg's public enemy number one, but Bob pulled rank as the head of the network.

Shots were fired when Jamie Cepero was not asked to return as Ellis--Bob Greenblatt made the case that the character was mocked and loathed in just about every write up, and was even the subject of some very negative articles about the show. Focus groups were scathing on that character too. Ellis, however, was Spielberg's favorite character(!). When Bob finally won a consensus that Ellis had to go, Spielberg was defeated and his interest in the show (and his attacks on Megan) waned.

Bob did what he could to right the sinking ship by bringing in a new runner and rehabbing Megan's character into someone audiences could root for. He also thought a major problem with the first season was that Karen Cartwright's successes seemed unearned and hollow (another result of Spielberg's meddling), so he fought to make her arc less preposterous. All good ideas, but too late... by that time we had earned the label of High Camp Trash, and the writing was on the wall.

Throughout all of it Megan was the picture of professionalism and poise. Also really sweet and goofy-fun, in the way of theatre actors.

 

 

Thoughts: I knew Spielberg wanted Megan gone from the 'How Smash became the biggest train wreck' article, just never thought he'd play so dirty, guess I just don't know Hollywood well enough. Never going to watch anything Spielberg related ever again, that's for sure!

Edited by Lach

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I saw that too.  Incredible!

 

How about copying or moving it over to the "Ivy League" thread?

Sure, I will do that. Just wasn't sure if that thread was for discussing the character only.

 

Awesome, and thanks Cranberry!  I live near the Hilty family and recently had a lovely visit with Megan's parents.  Her mom told me her own idea for a Smash follow-up which would be titled 'SMASHED'.  Ivy, pregnant and drinking sparkling apple juice, would sit in a bar and the other characters of Smash would come into the bar, themselves smashed, and would tell Ivy about their lives since Bombshell.  Or since whatever.  How cool would that be?  (Of course Karen would be the Princess of Broadway, most likely also a Hollywood superstar, and the continuing Princess of all Princessdom, and probably too purely sweet to be smashed.)

 

 

Oh, that's a wonderful idea, especially now that Megan is really pregnant, they don't even need to make those fake baby bum for her! I could end with Ivy/Megan giving birth, a new broadway star is born! Let's give the baby a spin off.

 

Just curious, do you know how Megan's parents feel about Kat's acting ability/ Karen as a character? I know Megan and Kat are best friends and wouldn't want people bad mouthing about Kat, but let's face it, they certainly must know that someone with lesser talent is being pushed as the biggest star ever while their daughter was being thrown under the bus. I guess it'd be awkward to ask, so I understand if you didn't talk about it.

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God I hope Megan's parents don't read this stuff because they are wonderful, and I am not sure how much I should say.  Ha.  All that being said, Megan's mom made it crystal clear that Megan could see Kat's weaknesses as an actor, that it was open conversation, but that Kat and Megan really are 'friends'.  I don't know exactly what level of friends, but friends.  Her mom also alluded to the 'KAREN IS AWESOME' meme becoming a huge problem with the critics and how 'they' tried to fix some of that in S2, but obviously it was too little too late.  Mostly we just talked about Megan's craft, how she approaches singing (she first speaks the entire song, gets it in her head how she would say the words if she was talking to someone, then sings the song in that light.)  And one last share....after S2 Jack Davenport personally told Megan's folks what a pleasure it had been to work with their daughter, and that she is an incredible talent.  And with this, I am done sharing insights from inside.

Edited by Wilson Cat

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God I hope Megan's parents don't read this stuff because they are wonderful, and I am not sure how much I should say.  Ha.  All that being said, Megan's mom made it crystal clear that Megan could see Kat's weaknesses as an actor, that it was open conversation, but that Kat and Megan really are 'friends'.  I don't know exactly what level of friends, but friends.  Her mom also alluded to the 'KAREN IS AWESOME' meme becoming a huge problem with the critics and how 'they' tried to fix some of that in S2, but obviously it was too little too late.  Mostly we just talked about Megan's craft, how she approaches singing (she first speaks the entire song, gets it in her head how she would say the words if she was talking to someone, then sings the song in that light.)  And one last share....after S2 Jack Davenport personally told Megan's folks what a pleasure it had been to work with their daughter, and that she is an incredible talent.  And with this, I am done sharing insights from inside.

 

Thank you so much for sharing with us, WilsonCat! 

I am always under the impression that Megan and Kat are really good friends, probably from all the interviews I read and their social media interactions, but I guess its hard to tell how their relationship is really like from these stuff. *shrugs*

 

Since Kat's acting in season 2 got worse, I often wonder if Megan and Kat ever 'share' acting tips, or if it's the elephant in the room and they just dance around it. But I guess it's just difficult to teach someone with little talent, I was an oboe teacher and have taught both kids and adults, as much as I love to say that anyone can play well if they worked hard enough, it's simply not true from my experiences. Then Kat has always come across as quite smug (could be her eyebrows), maybe she just isn't aware of her limitations.

 

It is fascinating to read a bit about Megan and her approaches to her craft! That just shows how much work a real artist puts into their performances! As a musician, I really relate and understand how much dedication and energy you put into your craft. I have had my share of experiences with people playing favourites or playing dirty simply because they don't like you, so I cannot in a million years forgive Spielberg for his actions towards Megan. In any case, I am just happy that Smash showcased Megan's talent for the world to see. *cough* Poking fun at the interview of Kat saying how she is happy to be on Smash cause it showcases her. *cough*

 

Oh, I am sure Jack Davenport is more than impressed with Megan's work, It shows in interviews. 

Still hate Derek though. :P

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(Cross-posted from elsewhere.  Am I allowed to do that?  Guess I'll find out.)

 

How Megan Hilty Survived TV Flops 'Smash' and 'Sean Saves the World' With Grace
 
(What doesn't Megan do with grace? and style? and amazingness?)
 
From the article:

After weathering the negative press about Smash’s creative struggles (while still earning raves for her performance as a scorned and immensely talented Broadway actress clawing her way out of the chorus line) and reports of cast wars backstage of Sean Hayes’s heralded—and then maligned—return to NBC’s Thursday night comedy lineup on Sean Saves the World, Hilty is in an unusual place for an actress. She’s survived two of the most high-profile television cancellations in recent industry memory, and has come out on the other side with more brains, heart, and courage when it comes to the business. And that’s not to mention the good will of critics and fans who have seen her shine on the respective series and can’t wait for her to find a better outlet for her light.

 

If you live in New York City, you’re most likely familiar with Megan Hilty even if you’ve never seen an episode of Smash or Sean Saves the World. A clip of her absolutely setting fire to one of Smash’s original songs, the torch ballad “Keep Moving the Line,” played almost incessantly on those little TVs in the back of taxicabs for what seemed like months last year.
Watch the brilliant performance, almost criminally effortless, in the clip below just once, and you’ll see why no one seemed to mind its taxicab omnipresence.

 
(Wow!  I didn't even know taxicabs had little TVs, but Megan in all the cabs?  How cool is that!?)
 
Regarding Smash:

“I was terrified,” Hilty says. “I also felt like I had a lot to prove, being the theater gal in the cast, because we get a bad rap. People think that theater actors are too big for the camera. It’s like,  ‘No, we’re actors and we adjust for our audience.’ So without being like, ‘I’m going to show that every theater girl can do it!’ I felt like I had to prove something.”
 
The pilot was spectacular, and Hilty was clearly a star, commanding every scene she was in and dominating every musical number. It was a blessing and a curse for the show, particularly when the writers tried to convince viewers that her character wouldn’t be cast as Marilyn, despite Hilty being so talented that the decision, though fictional, became increasingly ludicrous.
 
But that was just the beginning of the series’ creative struggles. Characters began to act so irrationally and plot twists began to be so ludicrous and unrealistic that fans who once tuned in to the show because of its strong pilot and theater-geek appeal began to revolt. The term “hate-watching” was quickly coined to describe their relationship with series.

 
("Hate-watching" links to this article in the New Yorker).
 

Throughout it all, Hilty remained relatively good-natured with the press, a proper balance of self-aware and self-deprecating. (It’s not many actresses who would, with charm and grace, answer a barrage of questions about the “failure” of TV shows she worked tirelessly on while promoting an unrelated animated film.)

 

For “hate-watchers” of Smash, few moments are as hallowed as the time Hilty’s character took prednisone because she was getting sick—as actresses often do—but inexplicably started hallucinating and acting erratically as a side effect—as almost no one does.
“There were times when I told them, listen, this can’t physically happen,” she says, remembering the prednisone arc. “Like, ‘I’m on prednisone now!’ They tried to justify with her taking all these other pills and blah blah. Whatever. There’s only so much that I can do.”

 

“There was something magical that happened every day on that set,” she says. And, it bears repeating, that Hilty was really good on it. So good that when Smash was canceled, NBC inserted her into the cast of one of their most hyped and most promising pilots for the next season, Sean Saves the World, even though the pilot had already been shot with actress Lindsay Sloane in the role Hilty ended up playing: Hayes’s work best friend, Liz.

 
(Article goes on about Megan's new projects, Oz and the Warren Beatty thing and - hopefully - getting Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on to Broadway.)
 
And in conclusion:

“It’s funny because on social media and stuff, everybody’s like, ‘Oh, poor Megan. When is she going to catch a break?’” she says. “It’s like, guys. Do you know how hard it is to even get on TV? I’m lucky to have any of these opportunities at all. Don’t cry for me. I’m going to be just fine.”

 
YOU GO GIRL!!!!

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We don't mind some cross-posting as long as it's not tons and tons of stuff. Thanks for all the news!

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I did everything I could to make it to NYC (and meet up with a friend from TWoP!) to see Megan at the Cafe Carlyle.  Damn.  This review in the NYT (and boy are they stingy with their raves....) makes me all the sadder that I am missing this.  I just talked to her dad the other night and reminded him to keep me in the loop for all of her upcoming small venue concerts.  Considering the September event that she is carrying so darlingly, it may be awhile.  But I am a very patient Team Ivy member and will be here.  There was also a really nice write up in Playbill about her Carlyle gig.  But here's the Times review....

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/29/arts/music/megan-hilty-covers-older-and-newer-at-the-cafe-carlyle.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults&mabReward=relbias%3Aw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DSectionFront%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3Darts%26t%3Dqry68%23%2Fmegan%2Bhilty%2F&_r=1

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Thanks Wilson Cat, what a lovely article!  Looks like 'Moving the Line' and 'SWBG' are becoming (at least a couple of) her signature songs.

 

I'm sorry you didn't get to go.

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I watched the National Memorial Day concert just to see Megan.  Her medley of WW II era hits was by far the highlight of the show.  The acoustics of the concert were not great, since it was live and outdoors, but Megan killed it compared to some of the other wannabees on the show.  I'll allow that Jennifer Nettles was also good.

Edited by susannot
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I hear you, Wilson Cat.  Every time I hear about a great new show in NYC, I think, why am I in LA??

 

Is it weird that I miss this stupid show?

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LA Dreamer:

 

Is it weird that I miss this stupid show?

 

I know...LA.  We HATED this show, yet never missed an episode, right?  Who doesn't seriously believe that if they hadn't screwed the whole thing up with the vapidness of McNobody McPhee we'd not only still be watching but we'd be loving it instead of hate-watching it.  I continue to play every Hilty song from SMASH in my car and I do really miss that damned show.  All TPTB ever had to do to have a true hit out of SMASH was to follow a new Broadway musical from auditions through workshop to a finale of opening night and it would have been a mega-hit.  No problem doing some down and dirty side stories.  But centering a series about the making of a Broadway musical around an insipid pop diva (and not even the word diva seems right for McPhee) was doomed doomed doomed.  All because Steven Spielberg had a hard on for Katharine McPhee.  What a sad little story.

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For those of us who couldn't be there, according to this interview (around 13:20), a live album of Megan's Cafe Carlyle show was recorded!!

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Has there ever been a suggestion of an Ivy spin-off series.  I believe it would be a hit.  Can't wait to get the new Cafe Carlyle album when it is released!

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I know...LA.  We HATED this show, yet never missed an episode, right?

 

Totally!  I had my DVR record the series, but if I was home to watch it live, I would (even as I was questioning myself for doing it).  I think Megan had a lot to do with the heart the show had (honest! It did have some heart!)  Ivy's nudity decision as Marilyn was beautiful.  I do think McPhee and her awful side story with Jimmy the jerk in season 2 dragged it down.  Sean Hayes was very poorly used.  I love him and would follow him anywhere, but they missed an opportunity with him. Everything else had promise, in retrospect.  I have no doubt I would still be watching this.  

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Just saw a video of a song by Megan, a cover of Jessie J's 'Who You Are' from the end of Season 1, apparently in Boston after all seemed lost, and the perfect princess of princessdom Karen had been handed the role of Marilyn (not absolutely certain of the timing of the number, but sometime around all of that....clearly during Ivy's lowest moments.)  

 

"Seeing is deceiving

Dreaming is believing

It's okay not to be okay.

 

Tears don't mean you're losing

Everybody's bruising

Just stay true to who you are."

 

Anyone remember this actually being in the show?  At that moment in Ivy's life that song was 'hers' like 'Moving the Line' was hers, as well as Marilyn's.  To this day I know I stuck with Smash for just two reasons.  Megan Hilty.  Shaiman and Wittman's wonderful music.

 

And a little aside, but an important one.  Megan has made it clear (heard this from her dad) that she really gets upset when people talk to her about everything that went wrong with Smash.  That while she is keenly aware that mistakes were made and that the story often didn't make sense, she made lifelong friends on that show.  That she and Katharine are friends, that neither of them ever worked harder in their lives.  They had to master changing choreography, changing musical numbers, along with their lines (also frustratingly fluid) and it was crazy hard.  They loved it, and she loves her co-workers on that show.  For me, this quality of Megan's,  illustrated by her obvious kindness and decency, her admonition to anyone who wants to do what she does to 'always be nice.....to everyone'...is what makes her even more special than simply a terrific actress with an unbelievable voice.  She is a rarity in show business.  Her parents and family and friends all have justification in being incredibly proud of her.  For my part, if I am lucky enough to see her at a smaller venue concert than those I've been fortunate enough to attend, I will not make any comment except to say that Smash was a great ride.  A bumpy one, one to a destination I didn't always choose, but one I will never forget.  I might even go on to admit that I am Team Ivy forever......and so is Wilson.

Edited by Wilson Cat
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Has there ever been a suggestion of an Ivy spin-off series.  I believe it would be a hit.  

I wish! I would watch anything Megan Hilty is in, preferably another TV show about musical theatre; I just find myself absolutely in love with Ivy Lynn and would love to continue to follow her journey. 

 

 

Megan has made it clear (heard this from her dad) that she really gets upset when people talk to her about everything that went wrong with Smash.  That while she is keenly aware that mistakes were made and that the story often didn't make sense, she made lifelong friends on that show.  That she and Katharine are friends, that neither of them ever worked harder in their lives.

I admire Megan as a person very much, but I just have this feeling of resentment towards McPhee, now I know that she is not the only problem with Smash, but she was one of the obvious ones. Plus the fact that she always come across badly in interviews and the recent 'incident' with the married director just cemented my resentment (Doesn't help when I came across some forum discussing her from her idol days when people found her unlikable). Now I would be nice to Katharine McPhee if I ever have the chance to meet her or interact with her in anyway, because I am not the type of person who would be rude (and I don't know her), but I just can't help how I feel about her as of now. 

 

No doubt both girls worked very hard on Smash, I do believe it, seeing as how McPhee's performance on the pilot was better than the rest of the series, I do believe that she wanted this role and worked hard, she just lacks the skills (no sympathy when she didn't complete her education and went auditioning for idols, also when she apparently didn't improve when she has the time between season 1 and 2). McPhee worked very hard to learn everything and was able to speak her lines and hit her mark, but Megan was able to do all that and more. I mean, in the end, people don't really score according to how much effort you put in, otherwise everyone would be an EGOT, that's just how it is. Though, usually there is a correlation between how much effort you put in and the outcome.

Edited by Lach

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I don't know how I missed this piece on Smash fairly early in Season 1, but it certainly speaks to everything we've been saying here about Hilty vs. McPhee.

Lach wrote:

 

No doubt both girls worked very hard on Smash, I do believe it, seeing as how McPhee's performance on the pilot was better than the rest of the series, I do believe that she wanted this role and worked hard, she just lacks the skills (no sympathy when she didn't complete her education and went auditioning for idols, also when she apparently didn't improve when she has the time between season 1 and 2). McPhee worked very hard to learn everything and was able to speak her lines and hit her mark, but Megan was able to do all that and more. I mean, in the end, people don't really score according to how much effort you put in, otherwise everyone would be an EGOT, that's just how it is. Though, usually there is a correlation between how much effort you put in and the outcome.

 

 

 

http://www.salon.com/2012/03/19/smashs_unexpected_star/

Edited by Wilson Cat

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I simply cannot keep this under my hat!!  This TEAM IVY leaguer is going to see her at The Art House in Provincetown, MA next month.  I've wanted to attend one of these small venue concerts of Megan's but she hasn't had any that I know of on the West Coast since she moved back to New York after SSTW was cancelled.  I have a good friend who lives just outside Providence, RI, who is a fan of Megan's, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone.  I have wanted to visit her (and I've never been to Cape Cod, either, so am looking forward to that as well) AND see Megan in concert.  We're going to the final two shows of the series of 6 that she is doing at The Art House.  The Sunday night show is with Seth Rudetsky (piano) and the closing night show will be with her husband, Brian Gallagher (guitar).  According to the guy I talked to who runs The Art House these will actually be two different concerts.  How cool is this!?!?!  Anybody of you fellow Team Ivy-ites who might live anywhere near this event.....join us!  The shows run from Wednesday August 13 through Monday August 18.  

Edited by Wilson Cat
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Back from Provincetown, and words fail to do justice to the two amazing evenings of concerts with Megan.  Night one was with pianist/Sirius radio personality Seth Rudetsky who did kind of a quasi talk show format with Megan.  It was lots of fun.....100% Broadway themed.  Night two it was Megan with Brian Gallagher on acoustic guitar and Matt Cusson on piano, her regular small-venue trio, and they were fabulous.  The Art House is tiny.  Under 100 seats.  And both nights my friend and I had front row 'VIP' seats on a cool love seat about 12 feet from the stage.  Megan looks beautiful.  There is a lot of baby there!  And believe me, that baby has NOT dropped an iota.  She's sitting right under Megan's diaphragm and it's semi-miraculous she can sing.  But wow.  She can sing.  She was great.  From Smash she sang Moving the Line, White Baby Grand, That's Life (with Matt doing the McPhee part, including the annoying "Ivy" aside), and one of my very favorite covers from the show, 'Crazy Dreams'.  She did Suddenly Seymour (from Little Shop of Horrors) both nights in duet with Brian.  You'd love the way he looks at her when they sing that sweet song together.  It is crystal clear that he adores her.  After the show Megan signed CD's in the lobby and was a delight.  This was a concert (concerts) of a lifetime for me.  Well worth a trip of over 5000 miles back and forth, and I am so glad I tossed caution (and $$$) to the wind and did this.  I will eventually not miss the money.  But I will forever remember those two magic evenings.  These were her final two concerts before she has her baby girl next month.  And she finished out the evening Monday night asking us to videotape her serenade of Rainbow Connection, which she sang to her unborn daughter.  It was beautiful, and touching, and lovely.  Wish all of you could have been there with me.

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I kinda wish that Ivy had had a different love interest in season 2. I didn't hate Derek, but I didn't really like them together. They touched on her having the hots for Simon, the guy playing JFK. That would have been interesting, especially after the whole nude on stage thing and later him having to see her naked every night.

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