Do We Need Another ‘Judy’ Redux?

Every generation needs its own Judy Garland drama, and maybe that’s not such a smack-yourself-in-the-head idea. One of our first real-live celebrity train-wrecks to break our hearts, Judy had talent, beauty and a rare intelligence that couldn’t save her from herself. Not many celebutainers can claim those traits. Judy Garland lived for the undying love […]

Last Updated: March 25, 2009 @ 6:01 PM

Every generation needs its own Judy Garland drama, and maybe that’s not such a smack-yourself-in-the-head idea. One of our first real-live celebrity train-wrecks to break our hearts, Judy had talent, beauty and a rare intelligence that couldn’t save her from herself. Not many celebutainers can claim those traits. Judy Garland lived for the undying love of a live audience and died trying to make yet another comeback.
 
No wonder we’re still fascinated by this Shakespearean life that merged sordid studio over-control, child neglect, drug addiction, multiple failed marriages and her own troubled children’s paths.

Who needs "The Hills" or "Desperate Housewives" when the Garland Story will always have legs? She would have been great on "Celebrity Rehab."

Apparently Anne Hathaway, an already proven box-office draw, has beauty and the smarts to de-rail her ingénue typecasting, as evidenced by last year’s stirring "Rachel Getting Married." 

And now she’s apparently tapped for her generation’s Judy retread. Except I wonder if she can scale the magic mountain of hope and desperation that Tammy Blanchard exquisitely pinnacled when she portrayed "Young Judy" in 2001’s television drama based on Lorna Luft’s smoldering, "Life With Judy Garland — Me & My Shadows."

Blanchard not only etched an eerily picture-perfect sweet young thing, she nailed the impossible singing as well. This young woman nearly over-shadowed the magnificent Aussie Judy Davis, who played the titular role. But Blanchard glowed incandescently as the heart-breaking teen who really, really believed in the pot of gold. This television movie (which should be re-run annually) featured the pre-"House" Hugh Laurie and Broadway veteran Victor Garber.

It was stunning. Maybe the best television drama that ever unfolded in two-parts. And then two years later, Blanchard hit the footlights of Broadway and killed in the role of Gypsy Rose Lee’s rebellious Louise, which starred a weirdly cast Bernadette Peters in 2003.

Blanchard scored a Tony nomination for her bombastic stage turn, and has since satisfied herself with steady, albeit not-as-flashy roles, from last year’s "Cadillac Records" to parts on "Law & Order," and other television shows.

So the mantle is now in reach of Anne Hathaway’s slender fingers. After seeing her explosive chops in "Rachel Getting Married," I suspect she may just slay her generation the way Blanchard did hers.

Not to mention the real Judy, who slays every generation still.
 

Naomi Serviss has covered Broadway, celebrities, lavish resorts and high-end spas. Based in New York City, she's still hooked on Hollywood.