Tom Hanks, Bette Midler, Tina Fey: All of them are on their way to Broadway.
Those celebs are among the A-listers who’ll be catching “Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me.” And at each performance, Martin Short‘s rotund alter ego, Jiminy Glick, yanks up an audience member for a mildly abusive interview.
Sometimes the hot seat is occupied by an everyday theatergoer, but on many nights there’ll be a star lined up to go toe-to-toe with Glick.
“I’m sure friends of mine will be popping by,” Short says of his celebrity-skewering sendup of one-man shows, which opens Aug. 17. “People like Steve and Chevy.”
And if the nightly guessing game of who’s-Jiminy’s-guest helps “Fame Becomes Me” build some movie-star buzz, producer Scott Zeiger will take it.
After all, despite many auds’ preconceptions, “Fame” isn’t a one-man show, so it doesn’t have the rock-bottom running costs that come with a solo outing. “We’re a musical,” Zeiger says. “We need that word of mouth right away.”
Alumni guests of the show — in tryout cities Toronto and Chicago, and now in previews in Gotham — include Dennis Miller, Eugene Levy, Gene Simmons and Toronto Mayor David Miller.
The show also has approached Gotham politicians and some major figures in the business world, as well as celebs making the rounds of the New York talkshow circuit.
Not everyone has said yes immediately, but “no one’s said no,” Zeiger says. “If we do our job right, the show could easily be part of the New York promotional tour” for stars talking up new projects.
But according to Short, interviews with civilians can be just as much fun. “Some of the best Jiminy interviews I’ve done are with real people who just went along with it,” Short says. “It’s when we’ve had some of those magical moments of improv happen.”
Ah, the many ways in which technology has changed the legit industry. Online ticketing. Theater-centric chat rooms. And now: Fun new ways to bootleg!
Browse for a bit at YouTube.com, and you’ll come across a slew of unauthorized snippets of Broadway shows. Many of them reveal just how new gadgets can help a stealthy bootlegger walk away with a recorded souvenir of a show.
Take, for instance, a short clip of Eden Espinosa playing Elphaba in “Wicked.” According to the tech-savvy fan who posted it on YouTube: “I imported the video, but the sound is from my phone.”
Such recordings are, of course, illegal — hence all those pre-show announcements reminding auds that cameras and recording devices are forbidden.
Actors’ Equity receives a handful of bootlegging complaints each week. The union estimates “Wicked” is by far the most popular show for illegal recordings, but also in the running are “Rent,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” (Another favorite: On-the-sly tapings of “The Last Five Years,” Jason Robert Brown‘s 2002 Off Broadway tuner that has a devoted following.)
“We take the position that actors should be compensated for any footage that is taken,” says Actors’ Equity rep Maria Somma.
The org monitors sites on which clips and tapes pop up, including MySpace and eBay, but YouTube and MySpace aren’t responsible for user-generated content on their site.
The next step? Prosecuting repeat offenders.
“We’ll pursue these situations because it’s copyright infringement,” Somma says. “We will prosecute with the intent of dividing the settlement among the actors involved.”
“With all of the recent advances in technology, bootlegging is, unfortunately, not something that can be easily controlled,” says “Wicked” producer David Stone. “While we appreciate the fact that ‘Wicked’ is very popular and audiences are eager to take a piece of it home, we do hope that people realize it is illegal.”