Monday, December 01, 2014
I was just a wee lad when PETER PAN first appeared on NBC. It was the ‘50’s, Mary Martin was Peter and thanks to 76,000,000 baby boomers still being babies the airing was a national event. The next day it was what everyone talked about at recess. We didn’t have water coolers at Van Alden Elementary School.
But even as a kid I wondered, why couldn’t they get an actual boy to play Peter? Or at least a girl who didn’t look like she was 40?
Try telling a six-year-old that it’s a long-held theater tradition to have a woman play Peter Pan. It just seemed weird. The fact that the parents go out and leave the dog in charge didn’t seem to bother me.
Will young boys today have the same gender issue? And a new wrinkle we didn’t have in the ‘50s – will older boys find Peter hot? I mean, Allison Williams is not Mary Martin. And by older boys I mean, y’know, preadolescent… to 70?
Like last year’s SOUND OF MUSIC, success seems to depend on the star. Carrie Underwood, despite playing Maria as a Miss Texas contestant, attracted huge numbers. Will Allison do the same? She certainly doesn’t have the name recognition that Carrie does. AMERICAN IDOL vs. co-star of GIRLS. Suddenly all the hype makes sense. But I do think Allison will pull it off and this will give her that big-name exposure for future productions.
And there’s one other factor. The show will air LIVE. If there’s some mishap, if the dog takes a dump, Allison flies into a wall, or Walken has a brain fart and calls Peter “Natalie” you’re going to want to see it in real time. Just having it on your DVR to watch a week later won’t do it. And in this DVR, shows-on-demand age, the only real way network television can attract a live audience is to air something live. This is why they pay such big bucks for sporting events. SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL loses something by Wednesday.
PETER PAN LIVE airs Thursday night. I'll be watching... for nostalgia and curiosity. Hopefully I can stay up for the whole thing. After all, it is a school night.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM