If you’re looking for someone to blame for the #RentNotLive controversy that happened after star Brennin Hunt broke his foot last month, look no further than Charlie Collier. The new Fox Entertainment CEO told journalists during Television Critics Association in Pasadena on Wednesday that, days before the show, he wrote personal notes to the production with the standard theater pre-performance well-wish to “break a leg.”
He just didn’t know they’d take it literally: During a dress rehearsal that Saturday, Hunt broke his foot during the second act, forcing the show to switch from much of its planned live staging of Rent to a pretaped version because Fox musicals don’t cast understudies. “Sunday morning, I came in early and rewrote a lot of notes,” Collier said.
Despite criticism of that pretaped, not-quite-live event, Collier said that Hunt’s injury hasn’t made Fox rethink its no-understudies policy. “When you take on the risk of live TV, you also are taking on the excitement of live [TV],” he explained, adding that “I think it would have been impractical to have understudies for the entire cast,” citing both the cost and time investments required for understudies.
Rent was green-lit before Collier, a former AMC Networks exec, started his new gig in November, but he told journalists that the Rent incident hasn’t soured his experience — even as rival network NBC recently cut its plans for a live production of Hair. “We love musicals and it’s a very tough business, but these are amazing creative bets,” he says.
Perhaps his next swing at a live musical should be The Producers?