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Scott Rudin On 'Book Of Mormon' And Edgy Humor

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Scott Rudin On 'Book Of Mormon' And Edgy Humor

Theater

Scott Rudin On 'Book Of Mormon' And Edgy Humor

Scott Rudin On 'Book Of Mormon' And Edgy Humor

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Preaching It: Ugandan villagers in The Book of Mormon (from left), Michael James Scott, Asmeret Ghebremichael, Rema Webb, Lawrence Stallings, Mala Nkenge Wilson and Darlesia Cearcy listen to missionary Josh Gad. Joan Marcus hide caption

toggle caption Joan Marcus

Preaching It: Ugandan villagers in The Book of Mormon (from left), Michael James Scott, Asmeret Ghebremichael, Rema Webb, Lawrence Stallings, Mala Nkenge Wilson and Darlesia Cearcy listen to missionary Josh Gad.

Joan Marcus

The musical The Book of Mormon is the breakout hit of Broadway this year, earning 14 Tony nominations. It's a cheerful — and incredibly vulgar — show about Mormon missionaries who take their unbounded optimism to a poor Ugandan village ravaged by warlords and HIV. Scott Rudin, one of the creative minds behind the show, tells All Things Considered's Robert Siegel that the show isn't just an excuse for the guys from South Park — Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who wrote Mormon with Bobby Lopez — to make a musical filled with profanity. There's a line they just won't cross, he says.

Producer Scott Rudin at the Golden Globe Awards in January. Rudin, who is known for taking on difficult projects, is a perennial nominee at Hollywood's award shows. Matt Sayles/Associated Press hide caption

toggle caption Matt Sayles/Associated Press

Producer Scott Rudin at the Golden Globe Awards in January. Rudin, who is known for taking on difficult projects, is a perennial nominee at Hollywood's award shows.

Matt Sayles/Associated Press

"I think the line is unadulterated meanness. I think that's the line you don't cross," Rudin says. "Trey and Matt and Bobby are very careful in this show to satirize only what they have a larger idea about. It's not scattershot jabs taken randomly. It's all to make a larger point about doctrine and religion and faith and belief. So they have a very specific reason for the profanity and a reason for the obscenity and it's all in service of a much larger idea. And I've never been in a situation where I've felt the slightest lack of trust that they would cross a line. By the way, I personally am not so sure there is a line. But they believe there is a line."

Rudin has long been celebrated as one of the most successful producers in Hollywood. This year, he produced two films — The Social Network and True Grit — that were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. But he also started producing plays on Broadway in 1993 and picked up a Tony in 1994 when Passion won the award for Best Play. This year he is nominated in that category two times, for Jerusalem and The - - - - with the Hat, and The Book of Mormon is nominated for Best Musical.

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