CBS and BBC Worldwide team up to bring us “Viva Laughlin” the Americanized version of the UK hit “Viva Blackpool”. Like it’s English predecessor it is described as a mystery/comedy/musical/drama. This version is said to have elements of “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars”.
“Viva Laughlin” brings movie and stage actor, Hugh Jackman (X-Men, The Boy from Oz) to American television. He is listed as the Executive Producer and will play the intermittent role of Nicky Fontana. There is a lot of excitement about Jackman�s debut in the series. According to CBS.com he has pre-filmed scenes for future episodes, but will only appear if his movie schedule allows.
“Viva Laughlin” is the musical tale of Ripley Holden, played by Lloyd Owen (Miss Potter, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) a perpetually positive singer struggling to balance the opening of his casino with the demands of his family. Nearing opening night for his partially finished casino, Ripley goes to his rival, Fontana for help. Enter plot device number one.
Ripley keeps smiling and singing as more problems develop. His ex-girlfriend, Bunny Baxter played by Melanie Griffith (the wacky Mom on the short-lived comedy series “Twins”) shows up wanting a piece of the action. A man found murdered in Ripley’s office turns out to be his business partner and a detective played by Eric Winters (Days of Our Lives) makes Ripley the prime suspect.
With the Nicky Fontana character appearing occasionally it is up to Fontana’s Lieutenant to maintain the bad guy element. DB Woodside (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24) is Marcus.
It is the musical aspect of the series that is garnering attention after Jackman. The players will periodically break in to songs whose lyrics are explanatory of the show’s events. IGN.com interviewed DB Woodside and asked about when he found out his role included singing. Go to ign.com for the complete interview.
DBW: “I didn’t really see the music aspect until a little bit later.”
They asked if he had made any musical requests for his character.
DBW: “. . . show America a little different side of hip hop.”
A level of negative criticism is voiced on Buddytv.com. They slam the pilot for the combination of singing and lip-synching. Be prepared for Hugh Jackman’s character crooning the Rolling Stones song “Sympathy for the Devil” and Melanie Griffith attempting to imitate the sexiness of a Blondie tune.
Is America ready for a musical/mystery/comedy/drama? Going up against “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”, “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill”, and the new CW series “Life is Wild” in the Sunday night 8pm — 9pm slot it shouldn’t take long for CBS to decide.