NBC's 'Grease' eliminates its two 'second chance' finalists
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/12/2007
The judges giveth and the judges taketh away.
After giving them a second chance during the last live episode of NBC's Grease: You're the One That I Want, Matt Nolan, a 22-year-old professional sports publicist from Rockville Centre, NY, and Ashley Anderson, a 21-year-old waitress from Nashville, TN, were both eliminated from the reality competition series for a second time at the conclusion of Sunday night's episode.
Following live performances from the 14 finalists on January 28, the television audience cast its votes to determine who would be sent home during this past Sunday night's broadcast. Joining Nolan and Anderson as the bottom two vote getters were Allie Schultz, a 19-year-old ballroom dance studio clerk from Nashville, TN, and Jason Celaya, a 31-year-old teacher from Foster City, CA.
Schultz and Celaya received the fewest votes from Grease's home viewers -- a distinction that NBC had previously announced would determine which finalists would be eliminated from the competition. However in an unexplained "surprise twist," the show's judges were allowed decide which member of each Danny and Sandy group's bottom two would remain and managed to save Schultz and Celaya for at least another week.
David Ian, the theater producer who is producing this summer's Broadway revival of Grease and also serving as a judge on the NBC series, told Nolan he was being eliminated "basically because Broadway is no place for beginners." Nolan seemed to understand, as he said trying out for the role of Danny was his first audition ever. "I think it was pretty good," said Nolan. "For me, this is just the beginning."
Ian told Anderson she was being eliminated because the judges had "no idea" why America would place Schultz in the bottom two -- never mind eliminate her from the competition. "I didn't rise to the occasion," said Anderson upon learning she was eliminated.
Prior to revealing who was being sent home, the 10 finalists who were "safe" from elimination performed songs from hit musicals -- an appropriate challenge considering the guest judge was Tony Award winning composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Webber and Ian have previously worked together on How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, a British reality competition series that served as the basis of NBC's own Grease reality series.
Highlights from the performances included Austin Miller, a 30-year-old former Days of Our Lives actor from Alvin, TX, who sang "Ease on Down the Road." While he said he wasn't "incredibly comfortable" performing the song and dance number, Ian called Miller "the best Danny performance of the night." Laura Osnes, a 20-year-old actress from Minneapolis, MN, performed Webber's own "Jesus Christ Superstar," and the composer told her he thinks she's "going to go a long way in this competition."
Meanwhile Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall -- who will direct and choreograph this summer's Grease revival -- said she would be "happy to have" both Ashley Spencer, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress from Massillon, OH, and Derek Keeling, a 26-year-old design consultant from Charleston, WV, as the leads for opening night on Broadway.
Despite receiving the lowest number of votes, Celaya and Schultz still performed after Anderson and Nolan learned they were being eliminated. Celaya sang "That'll Be the Day," a performance Marshall described as feeling "superficial." Ian added, "You're going to have to be a lot better next week." Schultz sang " I Don't Know How to Love Him," and while Marshall said the performance was "beautiful," she added "more vulnerability" needed to be shown.
"Let the audience see your passion," Ian told Schultz. "They'll fall in love with you just like we have."
Two more finalists are scheduled to be eliminated during the next episode of Grease, which will air live on NBC on Sunday, February 18 at 8PM ET/PT.