Back in NYC this week gang where a little play is preparing for opening night and town critic Eliot Easterbrook is interviewing the show’s producer, playwright and the author of the book the show is based on.
As you can probably guess, Eliot is instantly dismissive of the play but is curious to know whether JB is in town to help rewrite the show before it opens the following evening. The producer, Shayne Grant, assures him that there will be no rewrites and JB says she’s only in town to see the show and to bask in her former student Walter’s success.
“So is that a prediction, or is that hype?” Frowns Eliott.
“Isn’t it true that the only thing you can predict about the theatre is that it will be unpredictable?” Smiles JB.
“Oh bravo Mrs Fletcher! You must have stayed up all night thinking that one up!” says Eliott.
“No, actually Moliere did it for me about 200 years ago.” Says JB.
Across town, Elliott’s competition, a critic called Danny O’Mara watches the show and has a good old cackle to himself (and his film crew if you look closely in the above photo). The next day, while JB tries to get out of more interviews and Walter wonders how they can get Danny O’Mera to review the show when he appears before them, introducing himself to JB and saying he likes her style in taking down Eliott. He asks her if she’s seen the show yet and she tells him they are going to watch a dress rehearsal right after lunch. Danny tells her that from what he’s heard she’d better make it a light lunch.
As they get ready to depart Walter tells JB that there have been some changes between the first script he sent to her and the script being used for the show. JB says he doesn’t need to fish for compliments but that he wanted to let her know about the witch.
“Which witch?” Asks JB.
Walter says that JB must hate and despise it, which Jess says isn’t true (because she’s a diplomat and has had years of dealing with the hot mess that is Grady Fletcher). She asks him what happened to the original script but he says it got buried in “improvements”.
Not to worry, says Jess. Bad dress rehearsal, good opening night!
Oh God. You guys, look what the play is called!
It’s opening night time, and while Walter stresses out in the audience after spotting the arrival of Danny O’Mara and his associate Denise, an announcement goes out that one of the roles will be performed by an understudy due to illness. Just as the curtain goes up, Eliott Easterbrook appears to take his pompous place. During the intermission Walter takes his stress to the bar, and after watching Eliot and Danny have an argument in the middle of the foyer Walter decides the best move is to go and get really drunk, leaving Jess to take in the second act on her own.
Later at the afterparty, Walter is nowhere to be seen and JB is working hard to avoid talking to the witch – Barbara Blair. Shayne calls for attention and they tune in to Elliot’s segment on the 11 o’clock news. The review of the show is…well, terrible. To celebrate, Shayne throws her glass at the television.
But wait! All is not lost! Walter reappears looking
much like I did on Saturday night drunk and waving the early editions of the papers around. Specifically, Danny O’Mara’s review in the Chronicle. It’s a smash hit! Walter particularly enjoys reading out the bit where Danny points out that it’s the sort of play a low-calibre high-ego critic is sure to hate.
Eliott can take a hint where he hears one and announces it was time to shut the windbag (paraphrasing a lot) up permanently.
Cut to shots fired and the NYPD rocking up to finding Danny O’Mara dead on the floor and Eliot standing over him, gun in hand.
Denise Quinlan, O’Mara’s assistant, is summoned to the crime scene with JB in tow. When they arrive they hear Lieutenant Jarvis interrogating Eliot and Denise tells the lieutenant of Eliot’s threat to end O’Mara permanently. Eliot claims he meant get him fired.
JB tries to explain to the lieutenant that it was impossible for Eliot to have gotten to O’Mara’s with enough time to kill him but Jarvis has been awake for 3 days and has bigger problems. He arrests Eliot who informs him that the facts will clear him and when they do Jarvis will find himself in a spot of trouble. He also asks JB he would sincerely appreciate it if she would direct her attention to murder at the quilting bee or whatever her next pot boiler is going to be called.
Down at the theatre the next morning everyone is surprised to hear JB’s news that Eliot didn’t kill Danny. They have bigger fish to fry – namely capitalizing on Danny’s review. JB is about to make her final escape back to Maine when Walter finds her and begs for her help trying to save the play. As they talk, JB realises she can’t let Eliot’s arrest slide and goes to see Danny’s boss at the paper. He explains that Danny didn’t write the review at the office, he wrote it at home and emailed it in.
She does manage to establish that Danny sent his review in at 11:15pm, meaning he died right after. JB’s next stop is to see Denise, newly appointed temporary critic, to ask her about Danny’s review. During Denise’s demonstration of Why Computers Are Better she accidentally uncovers a second review draft, one that matches Danny’s notes to a T.
JB’s suspicion that someone faked the printed review doesn’t go over well with Jarvis, or the fact that no bullet casings were retrieved from the crime scene despite the 911 call claiming to hear shots. He does concede that Danny could have been killed earlier and asks JB to think of all the people who came late or left early.
JB goes to see newly released Eliot, who is just as delightful as ever, saying that he got out of jail because the facts spoke for themselves, and that to please not bother him with her little show.
“Mr Easterbrook doesn’t it get tiring being the voice of disdain?” asks JB
“I never tire of putting people in their place.” Says Eliot.
An eagle-eyed Jess notices that Eliot has a copy of the script on his desk, one that belonged to the witch Barbara Blair. JB asks him who he thought wrote the fake review (since it made him apocalyptic ally angry) and while he bitches about O’Mara for a while, he gives her some names. Apparently the director, Jason Richards had a vested interest in the show’s success, having been on a downward streak with previous shows.
Cue taken, JB pays a visit to Jason who is drowning his sorrows after hearing that the Chronicle is pulling the “fake” O’Mara review and publishing the real (terrible) one. He reminds her that he was at the party with her when they found out about O’Mara’s death. The only person who wasn’t there was Walter.
JB yells at his front door for a bit then returns to the theatre, where publicist Barney tells her he’s backstage working on rewrites. Walter is delighted that his original script is starting to come back, but has nothing for JB on where he was the night of the murder. This is news to Lt Jarvis’s ears and he promptly drags Walter down to the police station where Mrs Rizzo the eyewitness declares she saw Walter in the building the night O’Mara died.
Lieutenant Jarvis needs no convincing and prompty arrests Walter. JB tells him not to worry, she’s got an idea. She goes down to see Barbara Blair, who confirms that she and Eliot were a thing on precisely one occasion, under orders from Shayne. Shayne confirms this but is in the middle of trying to find the good bits of the televised reviews. Rewatching Eliot’s episode causes JB to exclaim, and run out of the room.
This, my friends, is what happens when a young playwright gets burned by a critic. And he would have gotten away with it apart from the whole using the wrong name in his reviews because he got to the play late situation.
But for now