Trent Somerset likes to think of himself as a young Steven Soderbergh, and in the last few years quite a few critics, directors and producers have come to share this view. He gets the projects he wants, (a fifth of) the budget he wants, (some of) the locations he wants, and, importantly, the people he wants, which tends to be a mix of superstars like Nida Olvyn forfeiting their million dollar pay checks for a chance to work with him and nobodies that no-one has ever heard of.
Kurt Hummel is not such a nobody, strictly speaking. His name has started to appear in off-Broadway production reviews and nearly all of the lines dedicated to him have been favorable. Outside the select world of musical theatre, however, he is not famous. Once Trent's new movie hits the theatres, he will be. If Trent doesn't fire him for his insistance on spending hours at his comatose football player friend's side at the hospital every day, that is.
Trent chose Kurt for a reason. He caught (half of) an improv performance and knew, knew the kid had to be Seagon. He didn't anticipate this happenchance turning his filming schedule upside down.
The kid (*1993) suggests schedule changes that make sense . When he comes in, he nails every scene at first try. Even if his costars sometimes need two or thirteen takes, Hummel saves Trent (*1995) precious time and money. He is ON FIRE and is going to win Trent all the awards.
Tykwer might even agree he deserves them, this time.
Trent is contemplating adding a line to the credits for this... Puckerman.
When the friend always visiting Noah Puckerman first starts singing, Henrietta fears Dr. Smythe will explode from vexation. The friend (“Kurt, please, Mr. Hummel is my dad. No, yes, I'm gay, taken, too, but Puck and I are friends”), however, is completely unperturbed and segues right into the next song. Hetty thinks it must be an (off-)Broadway thing until the football player brother comes to relieve Kurt, grins like a lunatic, and joins in.
It keeps happening. Dr. Smythe keeps making faces. Kurt keeps singing louder whenever he sees him.
Then one day during rounds, they march into Kurt singing 'Act Naturally'. Hetty is busy updating Puckerman's chart, so she doesn't immediately realize where the second voice is coming from. When she turns, Ben Urocht's vocal chords seem mute from shock, Noah Puckerman remains comatose, and Dr. Smythe's tenor is backing Kurt up in what even Hetty's untrained ears recognize as perfect harmony.
Once the song is over, Dr. Smythe's usual arrogance seems somewhat brittle. As their party leaves to see to the next patient, Hetty thinks she hears Kurt say quietly, “It's not a crime to sing outside of Dalton.”
Hetty is sure it's a one-time thing. Dr. Smythe, who has never been the most cheerful of men, is in a strange, contemplative mood the rest of the day. But it happens the next day, and the day after that. On the fourth day, the two have gathered quite an audience. On the fifth day, Dr. Smythe has Nurse Urocht stand in the door to preserve Puckerman's privacy, but he leaves the door open.
Hetty hopes he will at least continue humming after Puckerman has (either died or) gone home.
The Special Needs Coach
A week after Puckerman wakes from his coma, the prognosis that's in the file that lands on Chris' desk says the man will stay dependent on a wheelchair for at least three months, with a tentative addition of crutches after four weeks if he is extremely lucky. The possibility of the damage being permanent is mentioned, too, but after reviewing the data Chris takes that more as the hospital covering all their bases than an actual chance.
Puckerman is ( - was - ) a professional football player. According to his medical records, he never fucked up his legs, knees, feet, or even a toe before a rival linebacker knocked him out. The physical therapist's note describes him as motivated and eager to gain some independence, but Chris has worked with too many (former, sometimes future) athletes who don't know what's good for them to not brace himself for hours of work(, a weird attitude once it's clear Chris will never not need his own chair) and lots of whining.
When the physical therapist has helped Puckerman with the transfer and left them alone, Puckerman only needs half a minute to get the particulars of the (rather cheap) hospital chair (the sight of which always makes Chris wince). His face is pale, and he doesn't yet have the strength for everything he wants, but he starts making unmistakable and not uncomplicated dance moves around the room.
“One of my friends has been in one of these since he was eight, 'course I know how to use one,” says Puckerman when he notices Chris (doing the staring for once) looking at him all unprofessional and stunned.
Two of Puckerman's friends interrupt the last few minutes of their session. There is talk of a filming set. And singing. The weeks until Puckerman transfers to crutches suddenly promise to be actual fun.
Out of curiosity Chris follows Puckerman's facebook trail one night and sees a message left on an Arthur Abrams' wall: Dude, never have I been so glad you're a cripple. There is a slew of outraged responses from what seem to be Abrams' college- and work friends, but the replies penned by Abrams read I hear you, brother, Quit it, I'm all warmed in my heart and Homes, stop talking down on my boy, so Chris assumes there is something like “It sucks that I'll get out of it and you didn't” to be read between (beneath?) the line
“And here is Kurt Hummel now, the theatre songbird who was perhaps the biggest outlier surprise in Somerset's casting choices. He is accompanied by partner Blaine Anderson, who according to inside sources is quite the singer himself. While costar and fellow lead Marc Rhettson only ever had praise for his work, many expressed doubts if Hummel was the right fit for such a high-profile role. From what I just saw, he put every one of his critics in their place and then some.“
Hummel and Anderson pass her by, and Mari continues to introduce actors who have played minor roles in Somerset's movie and of whom only Nida Olvyn is truly interesting. Then follow celebrities who are only here because they want to cash in the cred of having been at a Somerset premiere. Actors the man has worked with in the past, actors hoping they will get noticed, pop stars, old-timers trying to retain a 'hip' image, and the occasional sports ace. She is in her element, but it's the fifth premiere she has narrated this year. The premiere itself is already over. After fifteen minutes her mouth is going by rote, until -
“Next in line is Noah Puckerman. You may recall that the star football player was forced to retire after a life threatening accident on the field this May. While “Puck” Puckerman has quite the reputation for dating women of all ages, sixteen-year-old Beth Corcoran on his arm is actually his daughter. He seems to have recovered well, walking only with a slight limp and with the help of a – I have to say, that does look remarkably like the cane 'Seagon' - “
Puckerman's daughter must have heard her, for she turns her head and yells in Mari's direction: “That's because it is!”
How oddly eccentric for a halfback, Mari thinks right before she spots Steven Soderbergh trying to exit the cinema unnoticed by her fellow reporters, and forgets all about the man climbing into a limousine with Finn Hudson.