The horror of `Blonde’ reality TV

Thanks to my trusty DVR, I did not have to watch “Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods” when it aired on MTV on Monday.

I can tell this one is going to be painful — but maybe in a “feel sleazy and need to take a shower after” way. You’ve got a bunch of hopeful young (YOUNG!) actresses aiming for Broadway stardom as Laura Bell Bundy’s replacement in the musical Legally Blonde, which frankly, should probably have closed by now (theater occupancy is just over half full much of the time). Are they maybe hoping this reality show casting stunt will boost business and help the imminent tour (mercifully not coming to the Bay Area — we’ve done our Blonde time).

Episode one was very Chorus Line wannabe with Mitchell and dance coach Denis Jones winnowing the group of 50 down to 15 and then down to 10 by the end of the hour. There’s a rocker Elle (isn’t there always a rocker?) named Celina, and she says she’s from San Francisco. Anybody know her? And famed Broadway director Jerry Zaks has a relative in the bunch (granddaughter? daughter?). One of the other girls had a grandmother on Broadway — not sure who that is.

Anyway, the best part of the show is vocal coach Seth Rudetsky, who teaches the girls the song “So Much Better.” If you don’t know Rudetsky from his column on, you should. He’s hilarious and quippy and knows everything there is to know about Broadway. I could use a reality show about Seth and not so much about the blondes.

The opening montage of things to come nearly did me in with its flood of tears and flurry of tantrums as the girls attempt to bend and snap their way to stardom by stomping on each other all the way to the top.

Haylie Duff (older sister of Hilary) is the host because she has been in a Broadway show (Amber in Hairspray), and she’s obnoxious in all the usual overly dramatic reality show ways. She talks like Jeff Probst on “Survivor,” which is to say that everything she says has the import of a State of the Union address, even though she’s talking about taking the girls to a vocal rehearsal.

The judges are director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, who will make appearances and keep tabs on the proceedings but wisely removes himself from the day-to-day craziness (he’s also on that Bravo dance show, so who has the time?); casting director Bernie Telsey, Heather Hach (who wrote the book for Legally Blonde the Musical), and Legally Blonde cast member Paul Cannan (who quips that he wanted to be cast as Elle Woods but there were size issues).

This thing goes on for eight weeks. Not sure if I can withstand that, but I’ll check in every once in a while. If anything of note transpires — beyond tears of frustration, desperation and ambition — I’ll be sure to let you know.

Visit MTV’s official “Search” site here.

5 thoughts on “The horror of `Blonde’ reality TV

  1. What’s additionally tragic is that (for any locals who saw Little Women in Sacramento or San Jose), Autumn Hurlbert is one of the finalists! She was WONDERFUL as Beth in Little Women and now she’s on this…I understand trying to stay employed, but um.

  2. Oh, and the one with the grandmother is Emma. Her dad is Jerry Zaks. Funny the info they leave out.

  3. Pingback: Chad Jones’ Theater Dogs » `Blonde’ boredom begins

  4. Actually, Katherine, it’s you who’s ignorant about the Urinetown cases (as well as rude).While I don’t agree with the Producers’ apopcarh to things, the cases are NOT about the authors’ rights. The authors are, I’m sure, getting the royalties to which they’re entitled. As far as I can tell, the producers aren’t claiming a bigger portion of those than that to which they’re entitled by contract.The producers sued these other companies not because they produced the play (under license from the playwright, composer, lyricist), but because they copied significant portions of the New York PRODUCTION. (i.e., Designs, Direction, choreography, staging, etc.). These elements of a production don’t exactly belong to the authors They belong to the Producers (arguably).This isn’t the first time this kind of issue has arisen (see, for example, Mantello v. Hall and the Tam Lin case).The bottom line is this. If a stock, amateur, or other company wants to produce a show, they’re welcome to do so, but they’re generally NOT permitted to copy elements of the original production, without specific permission from the owners of those elements. This can include lighting design, scenic designs, costumes, props, choreography, etc.

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