Saturday, March 14, 2009
You're welcome, readership
Tonight you finally get to see what I've been babbling about for the last few months, when Will Ferrell's "You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W Bush" hits HBO live from the Cort Theater in New York City. (That's the official punctuation, by the way, to which I haven't scrupulously adhered; upon reflection it's a subtle dig at the ex-president, a syntactic style you might call "Bush vérité.")
It's not often that a Broadway show is televised live from the stage, as it's generally considered imprudent to cannibalize ticket sales by giving away the product for free, or at least the price of a cable TV subscription.
But "You're Welcome" has been a special production from start to finish. HBO, a frequent business partner of Will Ferrell's, has a financial stake, and producers took an educated gamble that airing the show on its final weekend wouldn't stop people from buying tickets. Sure enough, despite HBO's constant promotion of the telecast over the last few months, the entire eight-week run sold out weeks ago; it closes tomorrow.
And so this weekend's splashy conclusion is a happy win-win for all concerned: the show has been a huge hit with audiences and critics alike, becoming a must-see event despite the recession and Broadway's traditional first-quarter slow season; it led the box office parade, handily recouping its investment in short order; Mr. Ferrell got the Broadway debut of his dreams, capping it off with a hilarious appearance on Letterman last night to promote the cablecast; and now that the party is ending, millions more will get to see the show without even having to get to New York or shell out for tickets.
Catch it tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern, live from what Ferrell-as-Bush calls "the faggy theater district." If you miss it this evening, "You're Welcome America" hits HBO On Demand starting Monday.
p.s. Having been fortunate enough to be involved in the production as an investor, I extend my thanks and congratulations to producers Steve and Seth Traxler, Jeff Richards and Jerry Frankel; the great Will Ferrell and his equally great co-writer/director, one of my comedy heroes, Adam McKay; and everyone else who made "You're Welcome America" such a smashing success.