Tag Archives: David Marshall Grant

Granted, That Wedding Was A Long Time Ago

I went all through elementary, junior and high school with Wendy Grant.

But until I read a story about the 1st-ever wedding announcement in the New York Times, I had no idea she was related to Ulysses S. Grant.

That’s just one fascinating tidbit, in a piece filled with them.

Lois Smith Brady — the Times‘ longtime Sunday Styles “Vows” columnist — writes about an 1851, 1-sentence announcement describing the marriage of John Grant and Sarah Mullett. He grew up on a farm in Vermont, the oldest of 13 children. He taught himself law, became a New York Supreme Court justice, and was a cousin of the Army lieutenant who went on to become a Civil War hero and US president.

The wedding announcement of John Grant and Sarah Mullett.

The September 18, 1851 wedding announcement of John Grant and Sarah Mullett.

Today, portraits of John and Sarah hang in Wendy’s New Haven home. She’s a psychotherapist, with a 21st-century story her famous ancestors could never have conceived.

Wendy’s brother, David Marshall Grant, graduated from Staples in 1973. A Players actor who went on to the Yale School of Drama, he earned fame with credits like “thirtysomething,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Angels in America” (Tony nomination).

Every Christmas, the Grant family gathers at Wendy’s home. They take a family photo, underneath John and Sarah’s portraits.

Wendy Grant took his photo of her husband, Marshal Mandelkern (top left), brother David Marshall Grant (lower left), her 3 sons and their partners, and her granddaughter, all under the stern eyes of John and Sarah Grant.

Wendy Grant took this photo of her husband, Marshal Mandelkern (top left), brother David Marshall Grant (lower left), her 3 sons and their partners, and her granddaughter, all under the stern eyes of John and Sarah Grant.

The Times photo showed everyone wearing decidedly un-1851 tie-dyed scarves and shirts. David Marshall Grant was there with his husband, and their 6-year-old daughter.

They were joined by Wendy’s 3 sons. All are gay — and all posed joyfully with their partners.

John and Sarah look dour — though not because so many descendants are gay.

“It was a less joyful time,” David Marshall Grant told the Times. “I’m sure there were struggles just to get by. I can’t imagine what it was like just to make breakfast.

“I’m angry when there’s a line at Starbucks.”

(To read the entire Times story, click here. Hat tip: Ann Sheffer)

“Smash”: The Bernadette Peters Sequel

Yesterday morning “06880” profiled David Marshall Grant, the Staples grad now serving as executive producer/writer of NBC’s new hit series “Smash.”

A few hours later, the show featured a shout-out to the Westport Country Playhouse.

Last night’s storyline alluded to the character played by musical theater legend Bernadette Peters singing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (from “Gypsy”) at the playhouse.

Although “Gypsy” has never actually been produced there, in 1966 Peters appeared at the playhouse in the musical “Riverwind.” She returned to that stage in 2008 to present a special tribute to Angela Lansbury.

Last September, Peters herself was honored with Westport Country Playhouse’s Distinguished Dedication and Service to the American Musical Theater Award.

As they say in TV land, “stay tuned” to “Smash” for more Westport references.

(Click here to view last night’s show. The Playhouse reference can be heard at about 00:54.)

Bernadette Peters and Weston's James Naughton at last year's Westport Country Playhouse Gala. (Photo/Kathleen O'Rourke)

David Marshall Grant’s Latest “Smash”

Westporters know David Marshall Grant from his starring roles with Staples Players back in the early 1970s.

Television viewers remember him for his groundbreaking role as Russell Weller in “thirtysomething.” Broadway fans recall his Tony Award-nominated performance in “Angels in America.” Moviegoers have seen him in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Now David Marshall Grant is hard at work on “Smash.”

David Marshall Grant

NBC’s new drama premiered last month to enormous fanfare. It’s a pull-out-all-stops innovation: a prime time soap opera about the backstage drama involved in the creation of a big Broadway musical.

NBC is betting the house on “Smash.” And Grant — as executive producer/writer — is one of the reasons the network thinks “Smash” will be a smash.

(Other reasons: executive producer Steven Spielberg, actress Anjelica Huston, plus original music and Josh Bergasse’s choreography. Joining the ensemble cast soon: Uma Thurman and Bernadette Peters.)

Grant knows its tough finding an audience for a TV show about a Broadway musical. But, he told the TV website The Futon Critic, “A lot of the key audience in America loves Broadway musicals, and I think the Broadway community is very central part of America’s cultural identity. I think that a Broadway musical is a cultural icon, so I was always optimistic that a show that has great music…would attract an audience.”

The characters form intricate relationships. Plot points are clever — and of course, there is plenty of music and dancing.

“Every number is intoxicating,” Grant told the Hartford Courant. “I defy America not to like that music and want to download it the next day.” (The show is plugged into iTunes, which helps a lot.)

It’s a bit more complex than “Brothers & Sisters” — the ABC series Grant worked on as screenwriter, story editor and head showrunner.”

“Smash” even has a nod to “the great old days” of music and choreography, Grant told the Courant — “even extending to the way it’s filmed. There’s a nod to the great heyday of the MGM musicals. It’s more romantic.”

David Marshall Grant in "Rotten Tomatoes."

Growing up in Westport, Grant was not one of those go-to-Broadway-every-weekend theater geeks. But Staples gave him a great introduction to theater. He honed his skills at the Yale School of Drama, then embarked on a long career on stage and screen (plus TV). He’s had roles in “Bent,” “The Stepford Wives,” “CSI: Miami” and “Law & Order.”

He’s also a playwright (“Snakebit” and “Pen”).

But right now — nearly 40 years after first starring at Staples — David Marshall Grant is still enchanted by theater, in all its forms.

Just because a Broadway musical hasn’t been the subject of a TV series before doesn’t mean that it can’t be, well, a smash.

“If people see the right musical done the right way, they’re going to respond,” he told the Courant. “I really have high hopes for a public appreciation of this art form.”

(“Smash” airs Monday nights at 10.)