My most brilliant idea ever: Hugh Jackman and Kristin Chenoweth should host a variety show together

26 Aug

I think I should take a moment to formally explain my thoughts on what I have alluded to a couple of times of this being the “age of mediocrity.”  I’ve tried to explain this before to friends, and I lost them in the process so I don’t know if this is going to work, but here goes.  The “age of mediocrity” is largely defined by several factors:

The idea of “who you know” as opposed to “what you can do” and the influence of money

This debate is fortunately less discussed in dance since there are always opportunities to prove one’s prowess in auditions, but it can still make or break a career in terms of promoting dancers to principals or helping a company gain exposure.  In other sectors of entertainment the “who you know” manifests in talentless hacks who record albums, a leap onto the silver screen, or otherwise step outside of their box simply because they have the money.  Some who take the risk are actually gifted and know their place in the world…most are not.

Cheap aesthetics over quality

Somehow sex appeal is now being defined by how attractive one’s visual image is, with a complete disregard for personality or talent.  At one time, it was the other way around…the talented ascended the ranks while a pretty face guaranteed nothing.  In dance, this translates to the constant “higher extensions, prettier feet, more turns” yammering that rages on, while dancers with artistic substance are left behind.  Some say those expressive dancers are just bitter…and I say, they have every right to be!

Overdependence on technology

There are a lot of interesting innovations in technology and art, but there is a certain boundary that’s broken when the technology controls the art.  Technology needs to be used more responsibly, not as a parachute to save a falling heap of crap.

The push for versatility

Versatility is awesome.  People can always learn new things and take risks.  But not everyone is indeed truly versatile, and people need to know their place.  Versatility should be the icing on the cake not the crux of one’s career.  Not every musician plays every instrument in an orchestra.

Reality television

There are the shows where stupid people are paid to do stupid things, and other reality shows are what they are because they can be cheaply produced.  In the end, we’re getting what they pay for.  As if it would be some terrible thing to seek real talent and pay them to do what they do best.

As you can see, this is an issue that I have a lot of rage over, because like many, I’m sick of low-quality, uninspired entertainment.  This is what keeps me running back to live music and dance, because professional musicians and dancers know how it works.  They know how much work it takes to get to where they are and they understand that once they find their niche, they can venture out and explore, but with realistic expectations.  Personally, I don’t even care if someone is not the best ever, doesn’t have the best lines or technical abilities…just show me something thoughtful, with substance and I shall proceed to enjoy (or ponder…whatever it is you want your audience to do).

There are of course some really talented stars out there, but their accolades are often drowned in really dumb news about celebrities who suck.  For as much as Hugh Jackman is praised, I still don’t think he gets enough credit for what he’s able to do.  He’s the rare talent who IS versatile and yet quite humble (gotta love that Aussie nature…and accent) and respects his place in the world of performing arts.  In an interview on the Ellen DeGeneres show earlier this year, he made it a point to stop the interview to talk about how moved he was when he went to see the Bolshoi Ballet:

He has also mentioned in articles before too that he wanted to be a dancer when he was younger, saying:

In another world, another life, probably growing up in another country, I might have been more of a dancer. In fact I was going down that road when I was about 12.  I was encouraged to do that, and I remember my brother saying, ‘Ah, you poof,’ so I gave it up. I dropped it like a hot rock. I didn’t have the guts of Billy Elliot at the time!

So ten points for the Billy Elliot reference and another fifty for acknowledging the courage of the male dancer.  It really shouldn’t be a surprise that he would be so thoughtful, because he is an earth monkey (Chinese zodiac, not in the Invader Zim sense), and people born in the year of the monkey are known for their intelligence and thoughtfulness.  Coincidentally, I was born in the year of the rat, and I shouldn’t even be surprised that I admire Hugh Jackman because rats, monkeys and dragons are in the same “triangle of affinity,” which means we have a tendency to like each other.  Anyway, even though his brother’s words deprived us of a more technically trained Hugh Jackman (I love that he can hold his own in Broadway jazz, but the image of a Hugh Jackman with ballet bravura is delish), his brother was also a big part of the reason why Jackman went back to the studio, which I found out in a different article:

Six years later, his father took the boys to see the musical “42nd Street.” At intermission, his brother apologized for being such a jerk years before. “He said, ‘Hugh, you should be up there doing that stuff,’ ” Jackman recalls. “It made me tear up at the time — it was a beautiful thing to say — and I actually went straightaway and did dance classes from then.”

Isn’t that the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard?  A commenter on my blog mentioned how sorely missed the variety show is, and I think Jackman is probably the only actor out there who has the ability and magnetic pull of a Dean Martin or Carol Burnett to really be successful at it.  The Austin Chronicle published an interview with Carol Burnett in January about what a variety show would need for success, and she said it would need a host that audiences can latch onto, and great writers with no egos (which goes for the actors too!).  Jackman definitely fits the bill, but I say take it a step further and add a second host.  Another earth monkey…Kristin Chenoweth!  Can you IMAGINE the possibilities if these two were the host of their own variety show?  It kills me that these two are among the most talented people in show business, and I don’t think they’ve ever collaborated on anything (and for the record, neither are among the top 10 paid actors/actresses in Hollywood…it’s sick).  Kristin’s comedic abilities are vastly underrated and both are surely used to improv and live performances thanks to their experience in theater (and not just TV and movies like some actors), and the fact alone that Jackman is 6’2” and Chenoweth is 4’11” has the makings for comedy gold.  I’m seriously five seconds away from starting a petition or something.


My two favorite earth monkeys...we know they're friends, could it be just a matter of time before they have a variety show?

My two favorite earth monkeys...we know they're friends, could it be just a matter of time before they have a variety show?

Anyway, just for the hell of it, I love Hugh in this video from the Tonys where he pulls NYCB patron Sarah Jessica Parker up on stage (in a totally Giselle/Sylphide dress I might add) to have a good time (oddly enough, she claims she’s not a dancer…but didn’t she attend SAB for a while?)

“I’m always very nervous about the word dancer next to my name because anyone who’s really trained in dance will go, ‘This guy’s fudging so badly.'”

-Hugh Jackman

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