So How Was "The Search for Elle?"
Perhaps it's because I was expecting the worst - but I was shocked to find that I actually enjoyed the MTV show, Legally Blonde: The Search for Elle.
Even the host of the show, Haylie Duff, did a fine job (and usually the host is the most annoying part of any reality show).
The show succeeds because it was produced like a documentary and not a reality show. The show began with 30 women on the stage, running through a dance routine for the director of the show, Jerry Mitchell. One at a time he eliminated dancers until there were only 15 left. He then turned it over to three judges - casting director Bernard Telsey, the writer of the book for the stage version of "Blonde," Heather Hach, and one of the performers from the show, Paul Canaan. But the director made it clear that he was going to be choosing the next "Elle."
The show actually offered a fascinating look at the intense audition process. The 15 candidates were taught a complicated and challenging dance routine during an intensive training session, and then performed it for the three judges. Then they were taught one of the songs (and a challenging one at that) and performed it for the judges. (The photo above is from that practice session, and is courtesy MTV.)
Then the judges rendered their verdict, telling 10 performers they were moving on to the next stage, and telling five they were cut, adding, "We just don't see you as the next Elle Woods." And that goes right to the heart of the casting process - the director can see 15 actors who can all handle the role, but must find that indefinable "something" that says, "This person is the best one for this particular role."
At the end of the show the 10 finalists met the actress who originated the part (and is playing it now on Broadway), Laura Bell Bundy. She told them, basically "I know you're tired right now - but it's nothing compared to what you're going to be facing."
And the teases for upcoming shows promise lots of drama, as the intensity increases and the competition becomes more difficult. All the women will be living under the same roof, so there's lots of Real World potential for conflict.
And that's where they may lose me. The audition process is intense enough that the soap opera antics are unnecessary - but we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. So far, it's less a reality show than it is a real event. Hopefully they can keep the quality high and the schmaltz low. We'll see.