In 2000 there was the movie “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson hearing the thoughts of women around him.
That same ability came to Taraji P. Henson in the 2019 film “What Men Want.”
Now Zoey (Jane Levy) has the ability to know what people around her are thinking, however, her gift is a bit different. Their thoughts are played out via songs. The cast and producers of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” which premiered on NBC on Jan. 7, recently discussed their new show and characters with members of the media.
Executive Producer Austin Winsberg began the session by discussing why this story fits with these times.
“I think because people are looking for joy and hope in the world right now,” he said. “And I think that musicals can touch upon deep emotions and can bring about stuff that’s sometimes hard to say in words. I think, also, there’s been a lot of success in the last several years with big screen musicals, and I think that sometimes that translates to television and looking for how to capture that same audience in the network space. I think people are just drawn to stuff that feels escapist and that feels hopeful and fun, and I think music is a great way to make that happen.”
With the big musicals of the 1940s and ‘50s still resonating with film buffs, and the new musicals of this millennium, it makes sense to bring music to the small screen. To think of Zoey’s life as a technicolor musical is an intriguing thought. How many people have thought of singing “Singing in the Rain” while skipping down a street in the middle of a rainstorm? Plenty.
According to Winsberg, “I think it was important early on in the show to show that this was a character that was not very in touch with the world. And part of why we made her a computer coder was because we wanted to make her somebody that saw the world in very binary terms. There were a lot of zeros and ones, hiding behind a computer, and we wanted to think of somebody who could be an interesting character that we could take on this emotional journey where she has to learn about empathy, where she has to learn about connecting to her fellow man, where she has to start to see the world more artistically and culturally.” Music definitely changes people’s attitudes and outlooks. It brings us up when we’re down and calms us when we’re upset. Music is an international language.”
Another aspect of this new series is the cast. It brings together many veterans of films and TV: Mary Steenburgen, Peter Gallagher and Lauren Graham, who will undoubtedly bring their personal fans to the show. They all have different stories in the series, but through the ups and downs, there is always music.