Matthew Weiner, Josh Radnor, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Sharon Lawrence, Adam Shankman and over 40 boldfacers gave up a slice of the President’s Day long weekend to create and collaborate in an incubator.
Within 24 hours, they wrote, rehearsed, and performed seven short one-act comedies for a charity benefit called “24 Hour Hollywood Rush” at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Sunday night.
“We have imprisoned some amazing writers, directors, and talent and subjected them to completely unnecessary pressure,” host/performer Jodie Sweetin said. “We work pretty fast in TV, but we’re never asked to throw away our scripts this soon,” “How I Met Your Mother” star Josh Radnor told TheWrap.
“The Simpsons’” Yeardly Smith agreed saying, “My day job is so much easier.”
With minimal staging and costumes, the ensembles drew huge laughs and a standing ovation with very little to work with.
“It’s not ‘Phantom of the Opera’… there’s no chandeliers falling from the ceiling, “ Peter Paige (“Queer as Folk”) told TheWrap minutes before his short hit the boards.
At a 7 p.m. gathering in the William Morris screening room on Saturday night, the 40 actors, writers, and directors were grouped in to companies.
Given a thematic prompt to prevent pre-writing, the designated writers made their way across town in the rain to a communal writing room at the Andaz Hotel on Sunset. From 10 p.m. until dawn, they turned out scripts with only of them few bothering “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner for a second pair of eyes.
“I felt like I was going to space camp. I got to sit in the same room with some of the best writers in TV and play with them, ”said actor-turned-writer Eddie Kaye Thomas.
Inside the PC-free writing room (Macs only), everyone plugged in earbuds except Weiner, who brought a colleague to help take dictation.
“Ugly Betty” showrunner/head writer Silvio Horta didn’t close the lid on his laptop until 5:30 a.m., only 2 1/2 hours before the cast table reads at 8 a.m.
With only a few hours of rehearsal and 90 minutes to block the plays on-stage, the seven one-acts went up at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night.
Comedy pros got the biggest laughs of the night.
A sketch on the misadventures of internet dating in L.A. starring Radnor and character actor Joel Michaely amongst others was surprisingly polished an broadcast quality timing. (Sample line: “So you’re WeHoMuscleStud22?” )
Written by Horta (“Ugly Betty”), “Love in the Time of Bandwith” proved that professionals are professional in any setting or timeline.
With Smith in the mix as a frisky mom, the sketch boasted the most network talent.
Downplaying the inter-network camaraderie, Radnor joked “I hate people who don’t work on CBS. They are just the worst.”
Known for writing breakout horror franchise “Paranormal Activity” Christopher Landon stayed true to his economical workstyle by finishing his script first at 2:30 a.m the night before. (“Everybody hated me,” he said.).
His director, Matthew Lillard, brought the meta-script about writer’s block to life in under four hours of rehearsal time. “This reminds me of how terrifying this entire experience is and how much I never want to act again, ” Lillard said.
Edi Gathegi, Jayson Blair, Amanda Righetti also performed while Adam Shankman directed a Rated-R sketch written by “Weeds” writer David Holstein.
“24 Hour Hollywood Rush” was the brainchild of actress Zibby Allen.
PR firms BWR and Fifteen Minutes came on board early lending critical ealry support. (BWR’s Brett Ruttenberg was one of the producers, alongside actors Jason H. Kennedy and Kate Payne.)
With sponsorship from Toyota Financial Services, all proceeds from the 1,200 seat sellout will go to support crystal meth recovery and suicide prevention programs of The Baby Dragon Fund and The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.
Weiner seized the chance to reach beyond the “Man Men” era to crack “iPhone” jokes within his Bonnie-and-Clyde bank robbery comedy called “The Bank Sketch”.
Rosemarie Dewitt (“The United States of Tara”) and Jonathan Sadowski, were amongst his cast. Did Weiner get to keep the rights to his new work, “The Bank Sketch”? “I have no idea, I should have asked that,” he told TheWrap.