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InDepth InterView UpDate: Actors Fund Producer Tim Pinckney Reveals Details On BOMBSHELL/SMASH Reunion Concert Event

One of the most popular stories of the year so far, the unexpected announcement of a special one night only charity concert performance of a fan favorite musical-within-the-series from NBC's musical series SMASH, BOMBSHELL, to benefit the Actors Fund, is already a huge hit here on BroadwayWorld, and, now we bring you an exclusive chat with an elemental figure in The Actors Fund, producer Tim Pinckney, all about the hotly anticipated evening. As part of our conversation, Pinckney offers up new details on what plans are currently in place for the unprecedented SMASH reunion as well as shares first reactions to the wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that has already racked up more than $230,000 in donations in only a few short days, having begun with a goal of $50,000 when the event was first announced last week. Additionally, Pinckney looks back at some previous Actors Fund special events such as HAIR and DREAMGIRLS and how the exultant reaction to this recent announcement compares to the hubbub surrounding those starry affairs - and what the momentum engendered by BOMBSHELL could lead to in the future, near and far. All of that and much, much more!

More information on The Actors Fund is available at the official site here. More information on the BOMBSHELL Kickstarter campaign is available at the official site here.

Also, check out my exclusive InDepth InterView UpDate with The Actors Fund president Joe Benincasa for even more about BOMBSHELL from earlier this week, available here.

Hang The Moon

PC: What was the first time you worked with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron?

TP: Well, as you know, Craig and Neil have both been big supporters of The Actors Fund for a long, long time, both in Los Angeles and here in New York. My first one-on-one with them was back in 2009 when we did a Frank Loesser evening to celebrate his centennial year. We did a huge event, also at the Minskoff Theater, that had Sir Paul McCartney in it and Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti and a lot more - it was a wonderful, wonderful night. While we were putting it together, Craig and Neil were incredibly helpful in helping me line up talent - several that came to do the show were because of their involvement; John Stamos and Nia Vardalos and some others. They came to us through Craig and Neil.

PC: They are incredibly well-connected, to say the least.

TP: They are. As with most of these type of benefits, nobody was getting paid, but we got in contact with a lot of people that we had never gotten in contact with before because of Craig and Neil and they got to know The Actors Fund through the ask and seeing if we could entice them to join us for the Loesser event. So, they introduced us to a lot of talent that we had never been introduced to before.

PC: They opened a lot of doors.

TP: Exactly. And, you know, they really stood by the front and were just so unbelievably supportive.

PC: When did you first hear about a SMASH reunion concert?

TP: Right after SMASH got cancelled, I had a conversation through e-mail with Marc Shaiman. I didn't know him previously, but I had seen an episode and the songs were just insanely wonderful, and, so we talked briefly then about maybe doing a concert. That sort of stayed in the background for a while, and, then, this year, Craig and Neil have really waved the banner and made this all happen - they really wanted to make this happen and now it is happening.

PC: They made the dream become a reality.

TP: They really did. Craig and Neil have gotten everybody on board for this. It's really interesting, too, because everybody I have been speaking to about this wants to be involved - everybody connected to the TV show; the creative team. The people who worked on the lights and the people who worked on the designs and the choreographer, Josh Bergasse, plus Marc and Scott [Wittman] - everybody wants to be involved in any way they possibly can; they're all in.

PC: How wonderful.

TP: It really makes us feel great that everybody wants to get back together and also support The Actors Fund, too. It also shows that this show was very important to these people and they all did work that their hearts were really in - and you can see it from the work. So, I am so thrilled that we are going to have an opportunity to present it again. It's going to be an unbelievable night.

PC: So, the show was still on the air when you first discussed a BOMBSHELL concert with Marc?

TP: Well, the show had already been cancelled when we first talked about it, but episodes were still airing at the time - yeah. Looking back, I think it was probably a little bit soon to do it then. I think that now is when it should happen - we seem to have a little bit of lightning in a bottle.

PC: Binge-watching and on demand viewing is so much more popular now even than it was when SMASH first aired, so obviously a new audience has discovered it in the intervening years, as well.

TP: That's true. It's changed a lot - I think you're absolutely right and that probably has a lot to do with why this is so popular now. I mean, the fans are unbelievable! They are calling in from all over the world - somebody called from Australia this morning!

PC: It has a pronounced global reach.

TP: It really does - they are coming to us from everywhere. It has such a strong fan base.

PC: Are you overwhelmed by the response?

TP: When this all first happened, we knew that this would be something that people would be excited about, but the level of excitement has been unbelievable. I mean, I have been working at The Actors Fund since DREAMGIRLS so I know about big events that have taken off, but I've never seen anything like this before.

PC: It's unprecedented. How elaborate do you expect this event to be?

TP: As you know from our other events, they are all planned as being concerts first and foremost, but there are always some fully-staged numbers, as well. So, the plan for BOMBSHELL is for this to be as exciting a showcase for this music as we can muster. With the talent that is involved, it is going to be thrilling. As I said before, it is going to be unbelievable - I really think it will be.

PC: Plus, there will be choreography and staging, as well.

TP: Right. Josh has the best dancers on Broadway to use - and many of them were actually on the show. Of course, it's up to him as to who will actually be doing the show, but it is going to be a big night.

PC: Has it been determined if it will be one or two acts?

TP: That has not been decided yet - and that would be more Marc and Scott and Craig and Neil's decision than mine, of course. What this is mostly going to be about, though, is bringing attention to those great songs - so it will come down to the producers and the directors and the writers to determine what and how will be showcased. But, I know for a fact that we will have an orchestra onstage and we will have some numbers fully staged, though - absolutely.

PC: The score has so many showstoppers - it is positively stuffed to the brim with them.

TP: It does - it's overflowing with great songs.

PC: What is your personal favorite number you are looking most forward to seeing live?

TP: Well, I have a couple of favorite songs, although I don't know if all of them will make it into the show. From watching the series, my personal favorite of them all was "Hang The Moon" - I thought that that was just songwriting at its best.

PC: Would ideally you like to get Bernadette Peters back to do this concert and perform it live?

TP: Well, sure! [Laughs.]

PC: Who could say no to Broadway royalty of that caliber, right?!

TP: I would love for her to join us - of course; of course. But, as you know, we are in the capable hands of Craig and Neil, so whatever they decide will be best. That song was Emmy-nominated, as well. Not even mentioning the artistry of Bernadette Peters and Megan Hilty - which is exquisite and untouchable - but, as pure songwriting, that song is just incredible to me. It just floored me. It's among so many that are so spectacular, though - I love "Twentieth Century Foxtrot", too; I love so many of them. To be honest, ever since we announced that we were doing this, BOMBSHELL has been sort of been living comfortably in my phone. [Laughs.]

PC: Expectedly so! What an unforgettable night it is going to be.

TP: I am just so glad that the level of talent and their dedication to The Actors Fund is shared by everybody involved. When you do anything with this many cooks in THE KITCHEN it can be a challenge, but this is so clearly a labor of love for everybody involved that it has all been a complete pleasure.

PC: A wish fulfilled for SMASH and BOMBSHELL fans, too.

TP: It's interesting how times have changed so dramatically. You know, when DREAMGIRLS happened, there was no social media - I remember very vividly when we had the full page ad in the New York Times announcing the concert and we had everybody here on the phone taking ticket orders because the phones were ringing off the hook; everybody saw it in the New York Times. That's how everybody found out about it and knew about it back then. And, now, with social media, it's unbelievable to see the difference - we had a New York Times announcement online and then it instantly made its way to Facebook and Twitter and then Kat McPhee and Megan Hilty tweeted about it and the whole thing blasted off to a different universe that we couldn't even dream about back in 2001. The world is so different now. It's so exciting - and so interesting.

PC: What will we be saying about social media in 2015 when we are 10 years in the future?

TP: I'll probably be in The Actors Fund retirement home by then! [Laughs.]

For even more on BOMBSHELL, be sure to stay tuned to BroadwayWorld for more exclusive conversations in the coming weeks as we anticipate the biggest performing arts event of the year!


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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)