ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Mutchnick & Seth

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28 Nov 2011

Cover art for Seth's new book
Cover art for Seth's new book

A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.


Attention readers, my new young adult book is finally available! Ah! So exciting! It's called "My Amazing/Awful Popularity Plan," and it doesn't come out until January, but you can buy the hardcover in advance online. And, because I'm so 2012, you can also get it on Kindle. Go to http://www.amazon.com/My-Awesome-Awful-Popularity-Plan/dp/0375869158/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1322239726&sr=8-3.

Now to the more mundane. I have eight more hours on this train. That's right, I'm in hour three of my 11-hour train trip to Canada. I was asked by Jack Latulippe to do a master class in Montreal. He's had people like Shoshana Bean and Stephen Schwartz up to teach, and his goal is to bring lots of Broadway people and shows to Montreal. He has an amazing Broadway blog called Master a Montreal (http://masterclassamontreal.com), and I was so excited when he asked me to come to visiter. When I asked James and Juli to come with me, James thought it would be a fun "adventure" if we all took the train up and back together. The nice part is it goes up along the Hudson, and the scenery is beautiful. The not nice part is there are eight more hours of scenery ahead. Anyhoo, I'm going to make the best of it and get some writing done.

Seth and Max Mutchnick
photo by Robb Johnston

So, let's start with last Monday. I've been friends with Anne Martin ever since we went to Usdan Performing Arts Camp together when I was 14 and she was 13. Her close friend from high school is Eric Hyman, who is now married to Max Mutchnick, the creator of "Will and Grace." Turns out, Max is a fan of my radio show and asked Anne if we could all go out to dinner. Fun! Of course, as soon as I meet a celeb, I immediately ask them to be on my radio show, so here's a recap of the dinner and his appearance two days later on Seth Speaks. First of all, the name "Max Mutchnick." When he arrived at college, he wanted to reinvent himself, so he changed his name from Jason to Max. He added that "reinventing" was his code word for coming out. I suggest he might have wanted to can the Mutchnick as well (believe me, I know what it's like lugging around "Rudetsky"), but he said he liked the alliteration. After graduating college, he started working as a staff writer on various sitcoms. Warren Littlefield asked Max and his writing partner to come up with a new "Mad About You"-type show, and they wrote one about a couple in San Francisco who were friends with two other couples, one of which was a gay guy and his straight girlfriend. Warren felt that Max and his writing partner had the biggest affinity for the gay/straight couple and told them to write a show centering on them. It, of course, turned into "Will and Grace." What's crazy is that all of the actors who played the leads didn't want the roles when they were first offered to them for various reasons (Sean had just done a film and wanted more film work, Eric wasn't sure about being locked into a gay role for years and Debra had gone from show to show and didn't know if she wanted to commit to this one). PS, in my day, when I was offered a high-paying sitcom, I took the gig! Actually, in my day, when I was offered an audition for a sitcom, I took it and didn't get a callback.

Megan Mullally was up for the role of Karen and when the final network audition came, she was the only one scheduled. If you don't know, during the network audition, there's always another actor, just for variety, even if there's a definite frontrunner. Regardless, when her name was called to audition, she wasn't there. She literally didn't show up. Max thinks she didn't want to be the sassy sidekick, she wanted to be the leading lady. Right before her "Will and Grace" final audition, she had almost gotten the Leah Remini part on "King of Queens," and Max thinks she was waiting for another part like that to come along. He called her at home and told her she had to come to the final audition. She told him she had just made eggs and wanted to eat them (!). Well, Max somehow convinced her to move away from the plate and audition because she did show up and then won two Emmy Awards! And, speaking of leading lady roles, Megan had actually auditioned for the role of Grace months before but didn't make an impression til her Karen audition. And, by "didn't make an impression," Max said they had no memory of her audition. I know the feeling. Over dinner, I told Max that I had auditioned a few year ago for the sitcom he wrote based on his relationship with Eric. He stared. Then I said I auditioned for the part based on him. Staring. I told him I had my audition in New York. Stare. I clarified that my audition was filmed and sent to L.A. He's still staring.


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