Magazine article Variety

The Blooming of a Star

Magazine article Variety

The Blooming of a Star

Article excerpt

Showtime couldn't be happier that you've probaÄ Ä bly never heard of Rachel Bloom, 26, the star of their new half-hour comedy pilot (with songs!), "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," about a smart lawyer L w turned self-deluded stalker. For the premium câbler, the freedom to cast a talented unknown signals its growing success.

"It's a function of the evolution of our network and brand that we no longer have to put pre-established stars into shows to get people to take us seriously as a place for original programming." says Showtime president David Nevins. "We have shows that get nominated for awards that critics take seriously: 'Homeland,' 'Ray Donovan,' 'Shameless' and 'Masters of Sex,"' he ticks off quickly.

Clearly, premium cabler's profile has added luster.

But not just anyone can follow in the footsteps of the household names that have traditionally anchored Showtime's signature, edgy, female-centric comedies - awards-show magnets like Edie Falco, Laura Linney and Toni Collette.

Bloom has the chops. She writes and stars in quirky and often raunchy comedic musicvideos on her YouTube channel. In 2010, her critically acclaimed musicvid "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" - shot with friends for $2,000 - went viral. The attention got Bloom representation, and led to gigs in acting ("How I Met Your Mother"), voiceover ("Bojack Horseman") and writing ("Robot Chicken").

"Rachel's got star potential - charm and charisma," Nevins says. " It's one thing to have a great voice as a writer, but it's another to say, 'I'm going to make a show around her.' You've got to believe that she can be a star, and I do."

It didn't hurt that Bloom's writing partner on "Crazy" is Aline Brosh McKenna, known for films like "The Devil Wears Prada."

"It was Aline's passion that Rachel can be a lead that I bought into," Nevins says. "The combination of (the two of them) is really potent."

McKenna discovered Bloom's YouTube videos by chance while procrastinating online. "I watched all of them. I was bewitched," she says. "In every video, there's a moment of painful introspection; the characters realize the direness of their predicament, then shake it off."

McKenna, who had been kicking around the "Crazy" concept, called a meeting, and the two gelled. "Rachel's a great singer with a classic movie-star adorableness," she says. "She reminds me of Claudette Colbert, Clara Bow and Jean Harlow."

McKenna and Bloom worked for four months on the pitch for the show, which features traditional storytelling and stand-alone songs. The pilot has a big 1940s Hollywood musical number and a late-'90s style R&B video. …

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