"Daily Show" Writer Penning Musical About James Watt, Embattled U.S. Interior Secretary

News   "Daily Show" Writer Penning Musical About James Watt, Embattled U.S. Interior Secretary
A new musical about James Watt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior under Ronald Reagan, is being developed by David Javerbaum, five-time Emmy Award winner for "The Daily Show."

Javerbaum, head writer of Comedy Central's current-events show, is a Kleban Award-winner for his work writing musicals, and is the lyricist for the upcoming Broadway-aimed musical Cry-Baby. His collaboration with composer Robert S. Cohen, Suburb, won the Richard Rodgers Development Award and earned Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel and Drama League nominations for Best Musical. The property is being licensed by Dramatic Publishing in 2006; a CD is expected in stores in early 2006.

Javerbaum told Playbill.com the satiric James Watt show (called Watt?!?) would be a "rock musical" (with music by GrooveLily and Striking 12 composer Brendan Milburn) because a rock sound would be utterly "inappropriate" to the story of conservative Christian Watt.

Javerbaum said the show isn't a smear job — "you like him by the end of it," he's sympathetic and humanized, the writer said. There is no production timetable for the work, which is still being written.

Controversial James Watt served 1981-83, and might be best remembered for an ethnic joke he told. He was also a foe of environmentalists for his support of the idea that federal land could be developed for commercial purposes.

In 1983 he reportedly banned The Beach Boys from performing a Fourth of July concert on the National Mall because he said rock concerts lured "an undesirable element." He was forced to resign after he told an ethnic joke about how his staff included "a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple."

According to Wikipedia.org, Watt was later indicted on 18 counts of felony perjury and obstruction of justice by a federal grand jury. The indictments were due to false statements made to a grand jury investigating influence peddling at the Department of Housing and Urban Development where he had been a lobbyist in the 1980s. In 1996, as part of a plea bargain, Watt pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of withholding documents from a federal grand jury. He was sentenced to five years probation and forced to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 500 hours of community service.


It is thought that Cry-Baby, based on the 1990 John Waters film, will emerge in 2007. Javerbaum's composer on it is Fountains of Wayne songwriter Adam Schlesinger. Thomas Meehan and Mark O'Donnell (Hairspray) are penning the libretto.

For more information about Suburb, visit www.suburbthemusical.com.

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