Episodes: 32 (hour)
TV show dates: February 6, 2012 — May 26, 2013
Series status: Cancelled
Performers include: Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Katharine McPhee, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, Raza Jaffrey, Brian d’Arcy James, Jaime Cepero, and Anjelica Huston.
TV show description:
This musical drama revolves around the Broadway theater community. The TV series follows a cross section of dreamers and schemers who are trying to create a smash hit musical that’s based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.
The musical is written by the successful Houston-Levitt team. Writer Julia Houston (Debra Messing) struggles to balance the relentless demands of Broadway with the needs of her family. She recently began the process of adopting a child with her husband Frank (Brian d’Arcy James) of many years, but her focus is torn when she has the opportunity to write another Broadway hit. Frank set aside his own career as Julia’s took off. With their son Leo now in high school, he has become restless. Frank and Julia strive to maintain their family life as her attention is divided between Leo, her new musical, and the return of old flame Michael Swift (Will Chase).
The other half of the team, composer Tom Levitt (Christian Borle), fights to help his old friend Ivy (Megan Hilty) achieve stardom after she’s spent years in the chorus line. He’s assisted by Ellis (Jaime Cepero), a smart young man who’s armed with charm, boundless ambition, and ruthless determination.
A rivalry for the lead role in the musical is between stage veteran Ivy and a youthful, inexperienced Midwestern beauty named Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee). Karen gets a fast education on how to navigate the shark-infested waters of the professional theatre world. She wants to win the role of a lifetime while also maintaining her integrity. Karen’s supported by Dev (Raza Jaffrey), her loving and supportive boyfriend who works in the New York City’s Mayor’s office.
Tenacious and legendary Broadway producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) discovers the “Marilyn” project and jumps on board with a brilliant director, Derek Wills (Jack Davenport). A brilliant but arrogant talent, Derek is also a cunning, egocentric bad boy — as well as composer Tom’s arch-nemesis. Driven by a passionate love of her art, Eileen must masterfully manage both the warring egos of her creative team and her musical’s skyrocketing budget — all while her ex-husband, Jerry (Michael Christofer), freezes her assets.
Episode #32 — The Tonys
Leading up to the Tonys, each main player of “Bombshell” and “Hit List” perform an ensemble rendition of “Under Pressure.” With only 12 hours to go, Julia and Tom settle down to write their acceptance speech. Julia tells Tom that her lawyers want her to outline her relationship with Michael Swift to hopefully put an end to Frank’s case against her, but it only seems to be making it stronger.
While getting dressed, Ivy and Leigh watch a recording of one of Leigh’s old acceptance speeches; Leigh’s positive they’ll both win. When Ivy struggles to fit into the dress that fit her perfectly a week ago, she tells her mother she’s thinking of time off. Leigh laughs – what’s gotten into Ivy?! The Tonys will give her a career momentum she may never see again. Meanwhile, Derek’s holed up and drunk, too embarrassed to show his face in public after confessing to sexual bribery. Karen tries to cheer him up to no avail.
Jimmy gets cold feet about performing at the Tonys. With Derek missing in action, Jerry changes their awards show performance to “I’m Not Sorry,” with Daisy as the featured singer. None of the rest of the cast wants to work with her, though, as she’s being a prima donna. Ivy shows up and asks Karen where Derek is. Karen tells her he hasn’t gone out in weeks and she’s never seen him this low. When she discovers Jimmy has yet to pick up his Tony tickets, Karen calls to ask what’s going on. When he gets off the phone, it’s revealed Jimmy has moved out of his apartment – he’s even leaving his deposit behind.
Eileen finds Nick working as a short-order cook in a local diner; she tells him that he’s the only thing she’s got in her life at the moment, and – win or lose – she wants him by her side at the Tonys that night. Meanwhile, Daisy calls Jerry to tell him the whole cast of “Hit List” has staged a coup against her, refusing to perform her song. Jerry doesn’t care; if they don’t want to perform, Daisy will just perform “Reach for Me” solo. Jimmy stops by Tom’s place to ask Julia to accept Kyle’s award if he wins tonight. Realizing he’s planning a no-show, Julia tells Jimmy this is his big moment, and he has to stop self-sabotaging. Whatever it is that’s holding him back, Jimmy needs to confront it once and for all.
Ivy checks in on Derek, who seems to be getting worse. He’s struggling to take ownership of the wrongs he’s committed in his life, and even though they’re a source of anger and sadness for Ivy too, she still loves him. Ivy tells Derek to clean himself up and accompany her to the Tonys. Julia meets with Frank to confess the truth about her relationship with Michael. She met Michael years before Frank knew she did, and for much of their marriage he was there. Julia apologizes for not loving Frank “the right way,” and encourages him to follow his heart regarding their settlement. She won’t refute any of his claims. As she leaves, Frank grabs her arm and says, “Thank you. I’m pulling for you tonight.”
Off Julia’s advice, Jimmy puts on a tuxedo and surprises Karen at her place; he’s decided to go after all. Karen’s excited to see him and glad Jimmy finally came through, as he has a history of flaking. Ana is devastated she’s not going, but Jimmy surprises her – he has Kyle’s ticket and knows his deceased friend wouldn’t want them to go without her. As Ana rushes off to get ready, Karen kisses Jimmy. She thanks him, for everything, then rushes off to help Ana. Alone, Jimmy takes a nerve-wracking call, promising he’ll be there by midnight.
During the show, Jimmy and Karen comfort Ana as Daisy takes home the Tony for Best Actress in a featured role. It’s the fifth award for “Hit List” that night. When Ron Rifkin announces the nominations for best book, and Julia wonders to Tom if she could really be so selfless as to want Kyle to win instead of her; Tom jokingly says that historically, no, she couldn’t be… but people change. Jimmy breaks into tears when Kyle Bishop wins for best book. Through tears, Jimmy gives an impassioned speech in his friend’s honor, thanking Karen for making this night possible. Before leaving the podium, Jimmy has a special message for Julia: “You were right. It’s never too late.”
When the nominations for Best Original Score are announced, Tom and Julia commiserate together in their seats, joking that Jimmy’s going to win, so they need to get some alcoholic beverages in coconuts. It’s just like old times, and Tom and Julia are having so much fun, they don’t hear their names called. Shocked, they excitedly run up on stage to accept their award. Derek is nominated twice for Best Choreography and his name is met with boos and hissing. Although everyone assumes he’s absent, he runs onstage, having made a last minute entrance. He thanks voters for judging the work, not the man; then he dedicates the award to someone he truly loves, and to whom he owes everything – Ivy. Standing backstage, she’s conflicted by the show of gratitude.
Ivy finds Derek in the back of the theater, behind the audience. As Ivy attempts to tell Derek about her current situation, he puts her off one more time, saying he needs to do something. Derek pulls Karen and Ana out of the audience, saying he’s “making things right.” Backstage, Daisy prepares for her big solo, but Derek pulls her back – now that everyone hates him, he can do anything he wants. The whole “Hit List” cast, with Ana -and without Daisy – sings an a cappella version of “Broadway Here I Come,” which earns a standing ovation. As the crowd cheers, Jimmy kisses Karen and tells her he loves her.
Tom and Julia are walking around in the lobby, wondering if their Tonys mark their last hurrah, when Patrick Dillon approaches them. He congratulates them on their win, then asks if they’ve ever thought about writing for the movies? They are still a writing team, right? Julia and Tom look at each other for a moment, and then say yes! Of course they are. What an opportunity! As Patrick leaves, Julia encourages Tom to approach him, and thanks in part to the courage that comes with a Tony win, Tom asks Patrick out to dinner. Patrick tries to say he’s flattered, but not gay, but Tom kisses him before he can get it out. Patrick doesn’t exactly oppose the kiss! Tom quips, “That’s how all my straight friends kiss me,” before Patrick beats a hasty retreat.
When Ivy wins the Tony for Best Actress, Karen’s happy for her, but disheartened. In her speech, Ivy admits she didn’t think she would win, and thanks her mother for giving her the greatest gift – a life in the theater. Ivy can only hope that one day, she’ll give that gift to her children. Ivy says there’s nothing more special than the moment before a show, when the audience is full of hopeful anticipation, and anything can happen. She thanks everyone for believing there’s nothing better than live theater. In the lobby, Eileen comforts Karen, who’s worried she missed her shot. Eileen tells Karen she’s an amazing talent, and time is well on her side. An announcement is made; the award for Best Musical is about to be presented…
Rosie O’Donnell presents the Tony for Best Musical to “Bombshell,” capping off an amazing night for Eileen, even though “Hit List” won more awards in total. Eileen is beyond happy to have won – and beyond happy to be escorted by Nick. Calling Derek up to the stage, Eileen tells him Broadway will forget about his scandal – they just need him to do another show. At the after party, Ivy approaches Derek and asks if they can talk. In private, she tells him about her pregnancy, and though it’s unclear what he says, his actions imply Derek is willing to finally own up to his actions and take some responsibility.
Handing Kyle’s Tony to Ana, Jimmy pulls Karen aside to confess his shady past. A couple years ago, Jimmy gave a girl some drugs at a party and she took too much. He thought she died, and he changed his name and ran from the problem instead of taking responsibility, but today, he turned himself in. Karen freaks out, shocked by this revelation, but Jimmy assures her the cops said the girl was okay. She’s still alive! But he was charged with distribution of a controlled substance and will likely serve several months in jail. He posted bail that night so he could accompany her to the Tonys, but he has to go to jail tonight. He promised her he would do whatever to be the person she saw him as – and now he’s free to do just that.
At the bar, Tom and Julia flip on the TV to watch their song from the Tony Awards. They were so busy celebrating they didn’t get to see it live. Karen and Ivy perform a duet of the song “Big Finish,” and as this goes on, each character has a moment somewhere else around New York City. After a deep kiss, Karen tearfully says goodbye to Jimmy at the police station. Derek gently puts his hand on Ivy’s stomach. Julia gives her letter to the man for who it was intended – Michael. Tom looks proudly at his Tony, now resting on his home piano. And Eileen Rand stands triumphantly in her office, accompanied by her Tony, and more importantly, Nick Felder.
First aired: May 26, 2013
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Image courtesy NBC.