"Smash" Premieres Online Jan. 16 Prior to February Network Debut
By Kenneth Jones
The new hour-long musical drama "Smash" — the scripted TV series about theatre people putting together a new Broadway musical — will make its network debut as planned 10 PM (ET) Feb. 6 on NBC-TV, but its first wide launch will be Jan. 16 through digital services.
As previously reported, NBC announced a rare plan for a "strong and comprehensive promotional campaign to build a positive initial sampling" prior to the traditional premiere. That means that the pilot episode will surface, among other places, online for digital download. It is being offered to platforms including Apple iTunes, Amazon Video on Demand, Xbox/Zune, Playstation, Samsung MediaHub and Vudu beginning Jan. 16 and continuing through Feb. 6.
Also from Jan. 16 through Feb. 6, Video on Demand partners, including parent company Comcast, will offer the pilot via Set-Top-Box On Demand.
Beginning Jan. 23 through Feb. 6, you will find it online streaming via NBC.com and Hulu.
"Smash" was seen in public "consumer screenings" in 10 major markets on Jan. 9 in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland and San Francisco. In Chicago, NBC had some of the cast and creative team on hand for a Q & A after the screening followed by a reception. On Jan. 11, there was a focus on the LGBT community at the Outfest Screening in Los Angeles.
From Jan. 15-30, selected American Airlines flights will show in-flight screenings of the pilot.
The scripted drama about the subculture of musical theatre people is the brainchild of Steven Spielberg. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck (Mauritius, "NYPD Blue") penned the pilot episode and is the series creator. The pilot is directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot).
NBC bills it this way: "'Smash' is a musical drama that celebrates the beauty and heartbreak of the Broadway theatre as it follows a cross-section of dreamers and schemers who all have one common desire — to be a 'Smash.' The series centers on a desire to create a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe — written by the successful songwriting duo of Tom (Tony Award nominee Christian Borle of Legally Blonde: The Musical) and Julia (Emmy Award winner Debra Messing of 'Will & Grace'). Julia recently began the process of adopting a child with her husband of many years, but her focus is torn when she has the opportunity to write another Broadway hit. A rivalry soon forms for the lead role between a youthful, inexperienced Midwestern beauty (Katharine McPhee, 'American Idol') — who is trying to find fame in the big city against all odds — and stage veteran (Megan Hilty of 9 to 5: The Musical), who's determined to leave the chorus line and finally get her big break. A tenacious producer Eileen (Oscar winner Anjelica Huston, 'Prizzi's Honor') discovers the Marilyn project and jumps on board with a brilliant director (Jack Davenport, 'Pirates of the Caribbean' films) — whose talent is matched by his cunning and egocentric amorality."
Executive producer is multiple Emmy and Oscar winner Steven Spielberg ("ER," "Schindler's List"). Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Oscar-winning "Chicago," "Hairspray") and Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey ("United States of Tara," "The Borgias") also serve as executive producers. Original songs are written by Tony and Grammy Award winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman ("Hairspray," "Catch Me If You Can"), who also serve as executive producers.
"Smash" is a production of Universal Media Studios in association with DreamWorks.
Don't expect characters to burst into songs, movie-musical style (or as they do on the TV hit "Glee"). All singing in "Smash" is expected to be in the context of performance/rehearsal/audition/recording situations. Said songs might be sweetened, however: A clip, apparently from the pilot, has surfaced, featuring Katharine McPhee's character in a piano-and-voice audition that morphs into a fantastically lit performance sweetened with orchestra, apparently to reflect what the industry folk in the room are seeing in their imaginations (musical fantasy elements like in the film "Chicago" will surface from time to time).
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