Alice Jones' Arts Diary: No ratings smash glee as Spielberg's big musical TV drama stumbles


Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Produced by Steven Spielberg, with a reported budget of $3.5m per episode, Smash made its UK debut last weekend.

The show, a back-stabbing, jazz-hands-filled drama about the making of a Broadway musical, has been dubbed Glee for grown-ups but at least one of its cast rejects the tagline. "It's not set in a high school where people break into song for no other reason than they're adolescent and just gotta sing. And we don't do covers," grumbles Jack Davenport (above, with Anjelica Huston), who plays a creepy theatre director. "Glee for grown-ups has good alliteration and it's a nice peg to hang the show on, but this has never been done before. Plus, we've got better singers." Over to you, Mr Schue! But Davenport could be picking a fight with the wrong show. Smash's debut attracted 75,300 viewers on Sky Atlantic on Saturday night. On (freeview's) BBC4, The Bridge, a sombre new Scandi-slasher featuring a Swedish/Danish script, subtitles and a little-known cast, pulled in more than a million.

Gyllenhaal offers Nick a fairytale of New York

The British playwright Nick Payne, 28, has been given a starry boost by Jake Gyllenhaal who will make his American stage debut this summer in his first play If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet. Payne wrote the play, which premiered at the Bush in 2009, when he was just 25. Gyllenhaal will play Terry, a foul-mouthed drifter who strikes up an odd friendship with his obese teenage niece. "He likes the humour and anger of the character and the tone of the play," says Payne. The actor was sent the script and liked it so much he came to see Payne's last play, Constellations, at the Royal Court in February. After a reading of If There Is... with Roundabout Theatre in New York, he signed on for a full run, opening in August. Gyllenhaal will adopt an English accent for the role but will Payne tailor his script for American audiences? "No. Although at the read-through I asked, 'does everyone know what Asda is?' and they said, 'not really.'" Is he ready for Jake's starstruck fans at the stage-door? "I'm sure there will be a bit of hoopla but I'm quite happy to stay anonymous." Not for too much longer, I'd guess.

James Bond-style training for 007's latest recruit

Tonia Sotiropoulou is the latest to join James Bond's harem in Skyfall, alongside Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe. "She's a classic Bond Girl – exceptionally beautiful with great sensuality and a kind of flow. She's spellbinding, which is what Bond needs," says Giles Foreman, her drama teacher. He should know. His London Centre for Acting, where Sotiropoulou is enrolled, offers training based on the methods of London Drama Centre founding members Yat Malmgren and Chris Fettes, who trained two ex-007s – Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan.

Hunt for goddess to pose for Turner prize-winning artist

Is your name Diana? Do you fancy yourself as a muse? If so, Mark Wallinger needs you! The Turner prize-winner has put out a call for 21st-century Dis to take part in a new work for the National Gallery, inspired by Titian's Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, saved for the nation at a cost of £95m. Keen Dianas should email Good bow-and-arrow skills and a relaxed attitude to nudity preferable, one imagines.

Page-turning book: Saatchi's scathing portrait of art world

There's much to enjoy in Charles Saatchi's irreverent book, Be the Worst You Can Be, unless you're one of his artists. Asked "Do you think artists are more intelligent than others? " he writes: "I have always been hesitant about visiting artists' studios, and discovering that work I have admired has been made by someone nitwitted." Who on earth could he mean?