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When director Thomas Kail took a break from Broadway’s Hamilton to take on the TV musical Grease: Live on Fox, he had a very specific vision for the complicated production. And his plan worked--Grease: Live was a hit, and Kail’s revival raised the bar on TV musicals. We talk to the Tony-winning director, who now has an Emmy nomination as well. Then, another Emmy nominee--actor Sterling K. Brown tells us how he prepared to play prosecutor Chris Darden in the FX limited series The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

Photo: Director Thomas Kail on the set of Grease: Live. Courtesy of Fox and Paramount TV

Hollywood News Banter 5 MIN, 43 SEC

Matt Belloni, executive editor of The Hollywood Reporter, joins Michael Schneider to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.

Matthew Belloni, Hollywood Reporter (@THRMattBelloni)

Thomas Kail, director of 'Grease: Live' 12 MIN, 15 SEC

As Grease: Live opens, performer Jessie J sings “Grease is the Word” as she winds her way through bustling high school sets, backstage hallways, dressing rooms and even outdoors in one long, single shot.

That dynamic opening set the pace for the rest of the live production, which premiered on Fox in January of this year. Grease: Live is the most recent production in a spate of musical revivals embraced by broadcast networks in search of the high ratings that come with live events.

More than 12 million people tuned in to watch Rydell High’s Sandy and Danny, played by Julianne Hough and Aaron Tveit, reminisce on those summer nights, be born to hand jive, and of course, experience an electrifying carnival connection.

Grease: Live is a technically complex production that’s constantly in motion. Cameras follow a large cast over multiple locations and incorporate an audience that’s actually sitting on set. The show received 10 Emmy nominations, including one for our guest, director Thomas Kail.

Kail is also the Tony-winning director of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway juggernaut Hamilton. Before that, he directed Miranda’s first Broadway musical, In the Heights.

When Kail recently talked to host of The Business, Kim Masters, he recalled that his very first encounter with Miranda--while they were both students at Wesleyan--wasn’t exactly positive. Fortunately, they would go on to reconnect after Kail graduated.

Thomas Kail, Film Director

Sterling K. Brown on 'The People vs. O.J. Simpson' 9 MIN, 9 SEC

The FX limited series The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story swept up a whopping 22 Emmy nominations this year, included 6 in the acting categories.

One of those nods is for Sterling K. Brown, who is up for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Christopher Darden, a prosecutor placed in an impossible situation. Other actors were offered the role of Darden first, but turned it down. Brown, however, was excited to have the opportunity to portray Darden in all his complexities, and to re-examine his own previously-held judgments.

In real life, Darden is the one who asked O.J. Simpson to try on the infamous glove; it’s failure to fit is remembered as the nail in the coffin for the prosecution.

In the FX series, we see Darden, as portrayed by Brown, eager to make a dramatic move in the courtroom that will prove without a doubt Simpson is guilty. Prosecutor Marcia Clark, played by Sarah Paulson, doesn’t see the point in taking the risk, considering all the other evidence they already have.

But when the moment arrives, Darden, unable to heed his partner’s advice, can’t stop himself. It’s one of the most memorable moments in the whole series, and one that Brown tells us, as he was acting, was able to trick himself into forgetting how the scenario actually ends, and ended up feeling real anger and annoyance towards Cuba Gooding Jr., who played Simpson.

Brown is a career actor who spent seven years on Army Wives. But he tells us the FX series has put him on the map in a way he wasn’t before. He next appears in the upcoming NBC dramedy This is Us.

Sterling K. Brown, Actor (@sterlingkbrown)

Listen to 'The People vs. O.J. Simpson writers' Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski on The Business

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