Music of Viva Laughlin
By Fred Topel | Image property of CBS.
Musicals have not traditionally faired well on TV. We don't talk about Cop Rock anymore. But Viva Laughlin is trying again. They're sticking to popular hits, not original songs. Hugh Jackman sings along with Mick Jagger and Lloyd Owen sings with Elvis Pressley.
Singing Viva Laughlin
"It's different in the mix," explained producer Bob Lowry. "When we put the show together, we put it into a mix. We try to vary the levels, and we try to highlight the master recording with our actors. Sometimes we want to highlight the master, and sometimes we want to highlight our actors. Hugh Jackman knows how to sing a song. You know what I mean? So we really took advantage of Hugh, and I think it's one of the best entrances on television I've ever seen when he does Sympathy for the Devil with Mick Jagger."
Fans can expect up to three songs per episode, but at least two and a half. "The way I get the fraction out of that is sometimes we use a reprise, like Hugh in Sympathy for the Devil, we'd reprise that number at the end. Sometimes we will use the music as score. It will play underneath the scene, and then our actors will join along and sing along with it. It's really a question of balance, because we're not a music video. We're a drama. We're an episodic, television mystery, family drama, television show with music."
Even Lowry is shy to use the term "musical." "I think then we would have to use five or six songs like you're talking about. We would have to highlight the music exclusively. One of the many things that I love about this show is we always have about four balls in the air. We always have the grounded stories in the casino franchise. We have a murder mystery which we need to have in the air. We have a family drama. and how these three areas interweave with our characters and how they play off of each other. Fourth is music. So music doesn't really outweigh the other three. It's a question of balance."
Hey, a show with a kickass soundtrack isn't bad. "The music we use to enhance that sort of an emotional soundtrack of our characters and to support the essence of the scenes. Ideally what a song would do, when the song is over, is you would know something that you didn't know before that was not stated in dialogue. For example, the Melanie Griffith number with Blondie, we know in that scene where she's coming on to Ripley, we learn in that scene, through dialogue, that they have a past. They have a history. And we learn that she makes a pass at him and still wants, perhaps, that relationship to continue. And we learn that Ripley rejects that past because he wants to be true to his wife. And so the song of Blondie, 'One way or another, I'm gonna getcha, getcha, getcha, getcha.' What we learn from that song that what we don't learn through dialogue. It's not a song about flirtation, and it's not a song about, oh, gee, I love you. It's a song about the Melanie Griffith character stating that she's a predator."
Viva Laughlin premieres October 18 on CBS.
Sources: Image property of CBS
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