Broadway’s Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who co-write the music for NBC’s hit musical drama SMASH, reacted to this morning’s news that they received an Emmy Award Nomination for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the song ‘Let Me Be Your Star.’ Smash nomination nods also went to Uma Thurman as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series and Joshua Bergasse for Outstanding Choreography.
Commented Shaiman, “Scott and I are thrilled to represent all our partners at ‘Smash’ and are so very thrilled for our friends and co-’Smash’ nominees Chris Bacon, Joshua Bergasse and Uma Thurman, who make us smile, and in the case of Uma, laugh uproariously.”
Said Bergasse, “I’m so excited and honored that I’m nominated for my first Emmy for ‘Smash.’ I’m dancing across the room!”
Gossip Girl executive producer Josh Safran is finalizing a deal to join NBC’s musical drama series Smash as executive producer for next season. He will succeed creator/executive producer/showrunner Theresa Rebeck who departed the series shortly after it was renewed for a second season last month. A number of showrunners interviewed for the job until Safran was identified as the choice about a week ago. UTA-repped Safran spent the last five years on the CW soap Gossip Girl, rising through the ranks to an executive producer.
Theresa Rebeck, the creator and head writer of "Smash," with the director Michael Mayer.
Smash, which was just renewed for a second season, will return next fall without its creator/executive producer/showrunner Theresa Rebeck. I’ve learned that Rebeck is stepping down as showrunner of the musical drama after its maiden season. Details about her future involvement with Smash are still being worked out. Rebeck will keep her executive producer title and may write scripts but will not be involved in the day-to-day running of series, returning to her theater career. Word is NBC will bring in a new showrunner for Season 2. It is unclear how that would affect writing executive producer David Marshall Grant, who joined the series after the pilot.
While the pilot of Smash was universally praised, there have been some qualms about the creative direction of the series — chronicling the creation of a Marilyn Monroe Broadway musical — which became increasingly soapy. Additionally, Smash, which started off big and broad, sometimes meandered into niche territory by focusing too much on the insider Broadway stuff over the human drama of the two singers, played by Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee, battling it out for the role of their career. Rebeck, a playwright in addition to being a screenwriter, will have a continuing presence on Smash — the female lead on the show, Julia (Debra Messing), half of a successful Broadway writing team, was based on her.
‘Smash‘ song composers Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman have won a Tony and a Grammy. What they want now is for their ‘Smash’ songs to catch on.
The great promise of “Smash” was that it offered a glossy insider’s look at Broadway. The equally great challenge was to create original yet authentic show tunes for the musical about Marilyn Monroe embedded inside this NBC drama.
“Our job is to make it feel authentic to the theater,” said Scott Wittman, who composed the original songs with Marc Shaiman. The Tony- and Grammy-winning duo, whose list of credits include Broadway’s adaptations of “Hairspray” and “Catch Me If You Can,” had months to compose songs for the pilot. By episode eight, they had a backlog.
“For a while it was like, ‘Oh, yeah, we got this. It’s a breeze,’” Shaiman recalled. But that didn’t last. The time frame for creating musical numbers for later episodes would shrink to as much as 48 hours.
For playwright Jason Grote, writing for NBC’s ‘Smash’ blows away all the clichés about working in television.
Playwright-scriptwriter Jason Grote on the set of the show "Smash."
As an East Coast “experimental” playwright, I’m often faced with disbelief when I tell my peers that I landed a staff job on NBC’s new series “Smash.” Partially it’s the strange-bedfellows notion of an allegedly avant-garde writer paired with a big, glitzy TV show about Broadway produced by Steven Spielberg. Even more prevalent, however, is the perception among theater folk that writing TV is slumming, or torturous, or at the very least a cynical sellout. It’s a cliché, but it doesn’t come from nowhere. Hollywood did burn the likes of Bertolt Brecht and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the martyred writer is part of film iconography: the floating corpse of William Holden in “Sunset Boulevard” and John Turturro shambling through a flaming hotel in “Barton Fink.”
ON the Staten Island set of NBC’s new musical drama “Smash,” it was easy to miss the choreographer Joshua Bergasse amid the hubbub in the St. George Theater. Onstage one of the show’s ingénues, Megan Hilty, rehearsed a chorus girl dance number behind the Broadway star Norbert Leo Butz. In the audience the show’s creator, Theresa Rebeck, chatted with the songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Joshua Bergasse on the set of "Smash"
It would be wrong, though, to overlook Mr. Bergasse, perhaps the busiest man on “Smash,” whom Ms. Rebeck calls the show’s “secret weapon.”
“You’re about to see our first run-through — aahhh,” whispered Mr. Bergasse, a bright-eyed, boyish 39-year-old, taking a seat behind a monitor as the playback rolled. Before “Smash” started filming in September, Mr. Bergasse was a journeyman choreographer and dancer for musical theater whose highest profile gig was in the company of “Hairspray” on Broadway. Then his life changed: the right director saw his reel, and the right big-time filmmaker liked it. Soon he found himself choreographing a fictional musical for network TV. “This is like the golden ticket,” he said. “I still have to pinch myself once in a while to realize this is for real.”
Playwright Jason Grote has joined the writing team for NBC’s Smash, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Grote’s play Civilization (all you can eat) is currently playing at The Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Among his other plays are Maria/Stuart, Hamilton Township, This Storm Is What We Call Progress, Box Americana, and 1001.
Among Grote’s contributions toward Smash is creating the character to be played by previously announced guest star Bernadette Peters.
Behind the scenes on SMASH, Theresa Rebeck created the series, with fellow writer/executive producer sharing reins in the writers’ room. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (of HAIRSPRAY) are writing the original songs, and Broadway/movie musical veteran producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are also on board as executive producers.
Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank are executive producers who also run DreamWorks Television. In an exclusive interview, they explain the complex inner workings of putting SMASH on the screen.
ASSIGNMENT X: You’ve said SMASH will contain a mixture of original songs written specifically for the series by Marc Shaiman and Neil Meron, and then cover versions of songs we already know. It’s understandable that the characters who are actors would sing well-known songs during the audition scenes, but once those sequences are ended on the show, how will the cover songs be worked in?