UPDATED, with Josh Gad response: Something Rotten!, the hit 2015 Broadway comedy set during the time of Shakespeare, includes an early scene in which a rival of the Bard is encouraged to add tunes to his plays and invent something called “the musical.” The rival playwright quickly dismisses the idea before enthusiastically breaking into song.
In a new trailer for Hulu’s Mel Brooks comedy series History of the World Part II, Shakespeare is seen leading what appears to be a writers room when one of the scribes suggests adding music to his plays. After a blast of musical theater, Shakespeare dismisses the idea: “Anyone else, with a good idea?”
The plots seem to diverge after the song moments, with the Something Rotten! character, named Nick Bottom and played on Broadway by Brian D’Arcy James, embracing the idea and spending the next couple hours taking part in just such a musical. In the Brooks comedy, Shakespeare, played by Josh Gad, dismisses the suggestion in no uncertain terms.
Still, Something Rotten! book writer John O’Farrell took note of the similarities in a series of tweets this morning, saying the Brooks’ project “hath ripped us off.”
Now Gad has responded directly to O’Farrell, saying the trailer scene was taken out of context. In other words, much ado about nothing.
O’Farrell, who also wrote the book for the Mrs. Doubtfire musical, originally tweeted:
Forsooth, Mel Brooks’ new film hath ripped us off Something Rotten!
I know writers can land on the same idea but our musical ran on Broadway for 2 years then toured for 2 more, there’s no way that everyone connected with his film was unaware of it….
Our premise was ‘What if they came up with the idea of the musical in Shakespeare’s London?’ And here is the extract from Mel Brooks’ new movie. (Ironically, or show was all about writers pinching each others’ ideas!)
In the past I’ve had ideas I later realised I’d seen somewhere else: then you just have to come up with something new. Mel Brooks has given me so much pleasure down the years, I’d be sad if he was now so all-powerful that no one could say to him ‘Mel, they already did that!’
In a response to O’Farrell’s tweets, Gad posted: “Big fan. All due respect the trailer takes it out of context. It’s a one off joke. Nobody breaks out into song (from what I recall) in the Shakes sketch. The trailer cuts to a completely different moment. It’s literally that line and off. Something Rotten is brilliant btw.”
Responds O’Farrell: “Thanks for reaching out Josh and that’s good to know the trailer gives a false impression. I love the work of Mel Brooks, he’s been a huge influence and I’m sure no copying was intended – but I just felt I needed to say something. Good luck with the film and all your projects!”
So, all’s well that ends well.
Follow the Twitter trails below.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.