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Uma Thurman's Smash Landing: Will Star Quality Save Bombshell or Detonate It?

As Smash executive producer David Marshall Grant told us earlier in the season, back when it appeared that Ivy had locked in the lead in Tom and Julia’s musical, “Theater is so mercurial and unpredictable… that [the role of Marilyn] becomes a bit of a revolving door that maybe even more than two people enter.”

And how. This Monday at 10/9c on the NBC drama, Uma Thurman (Kill Bill) enters as Rebecca Duvall, a movie star who’s luster could be just the thing to help Bombshell née Marilyn: The Musical shake off its workshop blues and become an irresistible siren on the Great White Way.

Or… she could blow the whole thing to pieces. For one thing, from the get-go travel plans make her tardy in joining the production, forcing Derek, Eileen et al into panic mode.

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“The reception [Rebecca] gets is very mixed,” Megan Hilty, who plays Ivy, previews for TVLine. “Some people think she will save the show, some think she’ll do damage to it… and some don’t see any need for a star.”

Ivy, we presume, falls into the latter camp?

“Movie stars are always a threat to everybody,” says Hilty, who has spent her share of time on the planks. “The more famous you are, especially on Broadway, the more you trump everybody else.”

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Not endearing Rebecca to Ivy at all is the fact that with her arrival, Karen becomes the understudy for Bombshell‘s titular role. In fact, as revealed in this week’s episode of TVLine’s Spoiler Alert! (watch below, at the 2:35 mark), despite Ivy and Karen’s decision to form an alliance against the high-wattage interloper, Rebecca will take a shine to and bond with Karen during a night out, during which one of ‘em sings a cover of a Snow Patrol tune.
But widening the rift between rivals Karen and Ivy may be the least of Rebecca’s impact upon the struggling production. With Thurman’s five-episode arc set to lead right into the Season 1 finale, EP Neil Maron says the way Smash‘s freshman run ends “is going to be a cliffhanger.” He adds that as the musical heads for its first out-of-town tryout, in Boston, the matter of “who is going to be playing Marilyn is still a big question.” (With reporting by Alyse Whitney)

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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29 Comments
  1. rod says:

    Why did they have to name the musical “Bombshell” i think “Let me be your star” is a better title, also, I like Uma Thurman but isnt she too old to play Marilyn ?

    • Erin says:

      Precisely my thoughts. Love Uma, but she’s far too old. And Karen as the understudy? That just doesn’t make any logical sense. This show had fantastic potential, but it’s starting to go off the rails of plausibility.

    • jenna says:

      Agreed! I personally am not a fan of Bombshell, I had never thought of ‘Let me be your star’ but i’m think its actually perfect! Since they say there may be quite a few changes with marilyn the musical, hopefully a titial change will be one of them??

      • jenna says:

        ** meant to say “I think its actually perfect” and “hopefully a title change,” I really shouldn’t post comments while on my phone haha

        • josh says:

          Bombshell is supposed to signify both the bombshell qualities of marilyn and the danger they pose to her in the long run, let me be your star is a great song, but if you title the broadway show after the song, it really makes the show more about the song than the whole show.

          • Sam says:

            That’s not necessarily true. The Phantom of the Opera’s most famous song is “Music of the Night,” not the title song. Same goes for “Rent.”

          • josh says:

            fair enough, i think the issue i had with titling the show “let me be your star’ is that song is right now (as far as i know the opener and doesn’t really capture what the show is about, i think it works well as the opening song, but as the title, not so much, just my opinion

    • CMG says:

      “Let Me Be Your Star” is a vague, nondescript, very wordy name for a musical. Very blah. I thought “Bombshell” is a rather inspired name… it’s concise, and conveys a double meaning both as a reference to Marilyn as a “bombshell blonde,” and the way her life was a sort of a ticking bomb waiting to go off.

      As for Uma being too old… she still has a pretty young-looking face, and that’s the important part. Put her in the Marilyn bleach blonde wig, and she won’t look that out of place. (Won’t matter… I doubt Uma will want to settle down for series television for long, so her character isn’t bound to stick around either.)

    • If you are looking for an alternative then it would make sense to go for someone that Universal has a relationship with and they can cross promote ,
      My thoughts would be if they can get them and that is a big if ,,
      Emily Blunt
      Kristen Wiig
      Natalie Portman
      Jordana Brewster
      Olivia Wade
      Rachel Weiz

  2. Manton says:

    DID YOU JUST SAY ”RUN” WAS ORIGINALLY DONE BY LEONA LEWIS???????????????

    Matt, shame on you.

    Song written, owned, performed by Snow Patrol in 2004 and not covered by leona lewis until nearly 5 years later.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Yes, and I already acknowledged that misstatement when Spoiler Alert! was originally posted. The site isn’t called MusicLine ;)

  3. SMASH! says:

    I am excited about the upcoming episodes! What will things be like with Uma on the show? I can’t wait to see what happens with Karen (Katharine), Rebecca (Uma), and Ivy (Megan).

  4. Linderella says:

    Bombshell is a completely era-appropriate title for this show. I would suggest adding “The” to the title would be even more so as Marilyn Monroe was The Bombshell known around the world with Jayne Mansfield waiting in the wings. During the 60s there were three female stars whose life events (either meltdowns, illness, births, marriages, and divorces) made the Evening News with Walter Cronkite; Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland and Maryland Monroe. ET was the beauty, Garland was the voice and Marilyn was The Bombshell. Considering what was happening in her personal life – her marriage to Arthur Miller, contract problems with 20th Century Fox and connections both public and private with the Kennedys, the title fit. Any other title would just not do her justice. Nor will the lovely Uma Thurman. That’s a worse piece of stunt casting than Sarah Palin on The Today Show.

    • Liana in San Diego says:

      Actually, “The Bombshell” was the name for Brigitte Bardot, also known as the Blonde bombshell. Much sexier than Marilyn, who was staged from the moment she was in the limelight. Bardot just stood there and was smokin’ hot.

      • Linderella says:

        I stand corrected attributing the The Bombshell to Marilyn but I don’t recall ever seeing Bardotte on Walter Cronkite. I still believe Bombshell is an awesome title. It’s a shame I remember so much about the 60’s but not so much about where I put my car keys!

  5. Renee says:

    My wishes are simple – that Kat McPhee could act half as well as she sings and that Michael Slezak could be our Smash correspondent. Sadly, I must get used to disappointment.

    • josh says:

      if there is anyone to Complain about their abilities to aCt it has to be Frank and Julie’s son, that kid is terrible, a lot worse than McPhee that’s for sure.

      • Renee says:

        Granted but that’s basically saying she has stronger acting abiiities than a fish. For a lead character – esp the Iowa ingenue – I’d like to see someone with some skill and a bit more charisma. (I looove Kat’s singing and she seems like a great person but Megan Hilty is acting the hell out of a role that often has rather stupid lines – wish she had an equally strong counterpart.) Anyway, I think Kat may get better as time goes on – she doesn’t have much experience after all.

    • marta says:

      Kat was fantastic in the pilot but she has maybe 2 lines in the next 5 episodes. It is ALL about the writing, they’ve made her character kind of boring. But from what I read, things pick up for Karen

    • Lea says:

      ^^Agreed. In the last episode, McPhee could’nt convincingly play someone answering a PHONE CALL. Her singing is lovely and she also dances well, but sometimes one can see that she is just not that good of an actress. Especially compared to others on the cast, Hilty, Huston, Davenport etc. …

  6. sam says:

    How long is her arc? I fraking HATE Uma.

  7. Carla says:

    How is the actress who actually HAD the lead for the workshop not the understudy in the production? Smash, you are driving me crazy… :) Go Ivy!!!

    • Margo says:

      There are many reasons a person who was doing a part in a workshop wouldn’t be the understudy. 1. they would refuse, considering it beneath them to be second fiddle; 2. an understudy or standy by is often the same physical type/size/stature. Uma and Kat McPhee, more similar physically than Megan Hilty and Uma, so this makes sense; 3. theatre politics; 4. lots of other reasons.

    • Lime says:

      I think it was mostly because of Ivy’s meltdown and completely unprofessional behavior at “Heaven on Earth.” They even mentioned it a few times in tonight’s episode! It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you eff up that bad during a live performance, you’re not gonna get hired back.

  8. Josh says:

    The show will be so much better if it wasn’t Karen vs Ivy(okay it’s justo ne of the many problems but still)

    I’m so tired of it becomes it just is the same thing over and over again:
    1. Karen gets everything good and everyone loves her
    2. Ivy gets everything bad and she’s “a bitch.

    Can’t we have a middle ground with them being friends AND rivals. SO much more dramatic and could be such a better avenue for the characters.

  9. Velvet says:

    I don’t watch this show, period.

  10. Lisa says:

    I think the Bombshell title is perfect! I’m not a Uma fan but I am glad that Karen will be the understudy and I hope that means we’ll get to see more of her. And more of Derek and Karen. I don’t like Ivy and I’m not a huge fan of Megan Hilty so a little less of her would be nice!

    As for the people complaining that Ivy as the former lead should be the understudy I have to say that I disagree. I’ve always gotten the impression that Ivy was a long time chorus girl/ensemble player who got the part because of her friendship with Tom and her willingness to sleep with Derek which makes her hold on the part tenuous. Plus, you could see in rehearsals that Derek was often not happy with her portrayal and the fact that he had Karen show the different direction the musical could take also indicates his feeling that Ivy is not right for Marilyn. In the last episode Ivy got wasted and went onstage and that alone would be enough to make them reconsider having her play the lead. Who wants to deal with unhappy theatre patrons complaining that life was imitating art a bit too closely?

    • Neil C. Rasbury says:

      But don’t you see they are making Ivy the modern day Marilyn. Besides Ivy has been working her ass of on Broadway as a chorus girl for her entire career. It isn’t fair that Karen Cartwright, a girl with NO experience on the stage, just coming out of Illinois or Ohio should be the understudy of Marilyn. Plus Ivy comes from good parentage of a Broadway star. And first of all she didn’t willing sleep with him. They felt a connection when Ivy was showing her vulnerability during her lines. Plus he’s still with her regardless that she was replaced.