In a cultural landscape dominated by Hollywood movies and teenypop CDs, theatrical productions often have to hock their souls just to get some television coverage. Not so with The Producers, the juggernaut Broadway hit that, for once, has the media clamoring for coverage rather than the other way around. Before the show's premiere, the opening number was staged on "Late Show with David Letterman." Two days after The Producers opened (to wide acclaim and a box-office blitz), UPN/WOR aired a two-hour special on the show's creation. Also, "60 Minutes" profiled author Mel Brooks, stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick were tapped to co-host the Tony Awards, newspapers have covered, day by day, Lane's occasional absences from the show owing to vocal rest; and news programs even covered Brooks, Lane and Broderick signing copies of the show's original cast CD at Tower Records. But the TV treatment is far from over.
On Aug. 5, PBS will premiere "Recording The Producers: A Musical Romp with Mel Brooks." Directed by Susan Froemke for Maysles Films, the show caught a day in the life — March 11, 2001, to be precise — of a recording session of the The Producers' CD for Sony Classical, with Lane, Brooks, Broderick, director-choreographer Susan Stroman and other principals interviewed. Excerpts from the musical numbers "The King of Broadway," "I Wanna Be a Producer," "Keep It Gay" and, of course, "Haben Sie Gehort Das Deutsche Band?", will also be shown.
The most well-known documentary of this type was done for the musical Company, though that film famously captured the tension of artists pushed to the ledge of exhaustion, while "Recording The Producers" will no doubt have a lighter, more celebratory feel. Brooks says in the film, "This is like one of the great, great days of my life. And, you know, I've got a lot of days."
Produced by Maysles Films Inc. and Sony Classical in association with Thirteen/WNET New York, "Recording The Producers" airs as part of the long-running Great Performances series. The show airs at 8 PM (EST), Aug. 5 in the New York area. Check local listings for days/times.
* The Producers, which has proved the biggest sensation to reach Broadway since The Lion King, collected a record 15 Tony nominations on May 7 and won a record 12 Awards June 3. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick star as shyster producers, Bialystock and Bloom, alongside Roger Bart, Gary Beach, Cady Huffman and Brad Oscar.
The Producers boasts designer Robin Wagner on sets, William Ivey Long on costumes, Peter Kaczorowski on lighting and Steve Kennedy on sound. Glen Kelly serves as musical arranger and supervisor; Patrick Brady is musical director and vocal arranger. Doug Besterman provided the orchestrations.
The musical is produced by Rocco Landesman, SFX Theatrical Group, the Frankel, Viertel, Baruch, Routh Group, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, Rick Steiner, Robert F X Sillerman and Mel Brooks, in association with James D. Stern/Douglas Meyer and by special arrangement with Studio Canal.
For tickets and information on The Producers at the St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th Sreet, call (212) 239-6200.