By Kenneth Jones
22 Mar 2012
|Photo by Will Hart/NBC|
The series created by Broadway playwright Theresa Rebeck, with original songs by Hairspray writers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, is currently seven episodes into its 15-episode first season. It airs 10 PM (ET) on Monday.
Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, who has shepherded the idea of the series since his days at Showtime, announced the renewal. The show was heavily promoted by the network prior to its January premiere.
"Smash" premiered (on network) Feb. 6 following an unusual January pre-release of the pilot on the internet (on digital services and NBC.com). NBC now bills the series as the network's most-watched drama in adults 18-49 and total viewers.
The show began as an idea of executive producer Steven Spielberg ("ER," "Schindler's List"), who thought a backstage drama about the making of a Broadway show would make for great TV. In "Smash," lyricist-librettist Julia Houston (Debra Messing, Emmy winner, "Will & Grace") and composer Tom Levitt (Christian Borle, Legally Blonde: The Musical) are writing Marilyn the Musical, about star Marilyn Monroe.
The story also features producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston, Oscar winner, "Prizzi's Honor") and two characters competing for the lead role: seasoned chorus girl Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty, 9 to 5: The Musical) and newcomer Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee, "American Idol").
The cast also features Jack Davenport ("Pirates of the Caribbean" films), Raza Jaffrey ("MI-5," "Sex and the City 2," London's Mamma Mia! and Bombay Dreams), Brian d'Arcy James (Shrek the Musical) and Jaime Cepero.
In addition to Spielberg, the executive producers include Theresa Rebeck (Mauritius), David Marshall Grant ("Brothers & Sisters"), Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("Chicago," "Hairspray"), Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey ("United States of Tara," "The Borgias") and Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can).
The first three episodes (and No. 12) were directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening), who is the show's consulting producer, helping to conceive the series' musical numbers.
The musical sequences in "Smash" are a mix of Marilyn's numbers in a barebones rehearsal setting (in a studio, in barebones rehearsal clothes) and the fully-staged fantasy of those numbers as imagined by the writers, director, actors and others. Pop music is also mixed into the series in various presentational ways (in a karaoke bar, in a cabaret, in a recording studio, at a bar mitzvah).
"Smash" is a production of Universal Television in association with DreamWorks Television and Madwoman in the Attic.
Check out Playbill Video's interviews with the cast and creatives of "Smash":