Charlie Collier feels a little bad about the part he played in the injury “Rent” actor Brennin Hunt suffered the Saturday ahead of the live TV musical’s Jan. 27 broadcast — because he kinda jinxed him.
During his first executive session as CEO of Fox Entertainment at the Television Critics Association press tour Wednesday, Collier told reporters he penned handwritten notes to the cast that Friday night in which he told them all to “break a leg,” because “that’s what you say.”
But then Hunt actually did break his foot the following night during rehearsal, preventing him from going on stage for the telecast the next day and keeping “Rent” from being live for the most part.
“So Sunday morning I came in early and rewrote a lot of notes,” he said to laughter from the audience.
Hunt, who played Roger, took the stage with some of his co-stars at the top of the show for a few numbers, with a “previously recorded notice” appearing on screen to signal the scenes were from the taped rehearsal the day before.
The rest of the cast — which included Brandon Victor Dixon as Tom Collins, Jordan Fisher as Mark Cohen, Mario as Benjamin Coffin III, Kiersey Clemons as Joanne Jefferson, Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen Johnson, Tinashe as Mimi Marquez and Valentina as Angel — then appeared on stage live ahead of the show’s first commercial break to let viewers know Hunt would be “unable to perform tonight” and that “most of what you see tonight is from last night.”
Pre-taped footage was then shown all the way up until the end of the broadcast, when the whole cast, including Hunt, came out to sing “Seasons of Love” for the finale, along with the original Broadway cast of “Rent.”
The Mark Platt-produced telecast ended up coming in as the lowest-rated and least-watched of the live TV musicals that Fox and competitor NBC have aired to date, with critics and fans alike ripping the network for not utilizing understudies for the show.
Collier also addressed that point during his executive session, telling journalists he thought it would have been “impractical” to cast understudies for all of the leads.
“When you take that risk of live television, you take on the risk of live,” he said.