Smash Star Teases 'Ticking Clock' Finale, Says Season 2 'Feels Like a Major Regime Change'

Bombshell, the musical within a show on Smash, is in much disarray as the NBC drama wraps its freshman run this Monday at 10/9c – and yet Broadway vet Christian Borle says it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before on the real-world planks.

For example, coming off the egg that the Marilyn Monroe bio-musical laid with its original bleak ending, Borle’s Tom and Debra Messing’s Julia are tasked with penning a brand-new tune in time for the next preview – which is less than 24 hours away. “It’s very true is that in previews, you can arrive in the morning and have a new song that appears in the show that night,” the actor vouches. “And then it can be cut the next morning!”

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Of course, the larger issue looming over Bombshell is that matter of who will fill the lead role now that movie star Rebecca Duvall has exited stage left. Because while both Ivy and Karen are familiar with the lead role, understudies actually aren’t rehearsed in until later in the process. That said, “Any understudy worth their salt is kind of doing work on their own,” Borle says, “because you never know what fate is going to hand you.”

For example, fate could sneak peanuts into your star’s smoothie. Has Borle ever witnessed that one on the Great White Way? “Not that I’m aware of. Or should I say, ‘Not yet.'”

While Tom casts his vote for the new Marilyn with at the very least “the raise of an eyebrow,” Borle says the ultimate decision comes from the director, in what he calls “one of Derek’s shining moments.”

“Finally, in crisis, he shows his mettle,” he continues. “As detached and emotionless as he can be, he’s the one who’s able to see the forest for the trees.”

As the scramble to serve up a new song and the back-and-forth on Marilyn plays out over this final hour of Season 1, Borle says, “It’s a ticking clock a la 24” — which of course regularly dealt with very different bombshells.

One mystery that’s much mightier than the casting of Marilyn is what Smash will even look like come Season 2, given the fact that veteran Broadway scribe Theresa Rebeck stepped down as showrunner earlier this spring, with Gossip Girl‘s Josh Safran now set to step in.

That unexpected transition – now coupled with the extra time on hand, given Smash‘s announced midseason berth for next season – has left much up in the air.

“Anything that could have potentially been in the works…. I don’t know how much credence you can put into it,” Borle says. “This feels like a major regime change to me, though I know that everybody is really excited about [Safran].”

According to Borle, “The joke is that we’re pretty sure that Smash is still going to be about musicals, and that [Bombshell] will still be, if not the entire focus, a focus of the show.” But beyond that, Borle maintains, “I haven’t heard a peep!”

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  1. “Any understudy worth their salt is kind of doing work on their own,” Which is just one of the reasons Karen shouldn’t even be the understudy (which she only is because Ivy made a mistake). Ivy ftw!

  2. shannon says:

    To be honest, I don’t know if I can keep watching the show if Ivy isn’t the one to get the role in the finale. There is no world where Karen would be given the part in this situation for the simple fact that she doesn’t know it. She knows a couple numbers, but Ivy knows the whole thing. It would not even be slightly realistic for Karen to give it. As of last week, she still didn’t even know all the lines it looked like.

    • misha says:

      this. I’m still torn between Ivy and Karen but its hard to root for someone who doesn’t seem to be putting in that extra effort to actually learn the part…

      • Daea says:

        Karen would definitely learn the part if she was given the chance. She even studied the music and script when the workshop was first given to Ivy. She holds a certain “star like” quality that Ivy just doesn’t possess. Not to say Ivy’s inadequate, but she doesn’t give off an outstanding personna. An aura that screams “hey pay attention to me! I’m special.” She’s just average. Derek will soon realize this and finally give Karen the chance to prove herself and let herself shine.

  3. Alex says:

    I’m seriously worried that Josh Safran is going to run a show that is at best uneven straight into the ground.

    • jenna says:

      My thoughts exactly! Given how gossip girl just seems to be going around in circles with drama for the sake of drama I’m afraid smash is going to turn into a completely different show come season 2. My only hope is that the show stays focused on being about a musical, I think we can all agree that smash is at its best when it focuses on the inner workings behind the show

      • Shaun says:

        Gossip Girl has a vapid premise and that’s why it’s become ridiculous.Smash has a preset premise and sometimes becomes GGesque.

  4. Josh says:

    Yikes that doesn’t sound good…Almost every critic says the best part about this show is Bombshell…If this new showrunner is going to concentrate on just the soap opera (which seems likely) then I’m done with the show.

    It’s NBC fault…Why the heck would you hire someone from Gossip Girl? And not only that, the person who was helming it when it shed like 3 million viewers and all buzz.

  5. CMG says:

    They’re taking a show with nosediving ratings and shelving it for 9 months. Yeah, that’s a recipe for success. It is renewed – but I wouldn’t expect it to stick around once it comes back. If I were the people on the show, I’d be lining up your next job now.

  6. Davey says:

    Since this show defies logic, I suspect Derek will choose Karen for Marilyn since she has already appeared in his visions. And Katherine McPhee has been used in most of the promos for this show from day one.

  7. Mike says:

    SMASH should take a page from Bway play book and make season2 about the making of another musical. FOSSE. so much real life drama. The class that led to workshop. Problems at LIVENT( the Canadian production company) people rushing to take the class to get in the show. The brown nosing. The audition. The director/creator who was then replaced and then a new round of auditions. It really happened kids

  8. smashtastic says:

    So excited for the finale, even more so after reading that article. Really want Karen to be Marilyn, but the stuff I want never happens so it’ll probably be Ivy! Also, this would have been Ivy’s part without question if Ivy wasn’t so unstable. Karen deserves her chance just as much as Ivy. Maybe she’s not as ambitious as Ivy, but she’s new to the business and hasn’t had 10 years to get desperate like Ivy has. I don’t blame her for that.

  9. JAO says:

    Love SMASH, but if it turns into a complete soap opera I’m outta here. The best part of the show is the inner workings of a Broadway production and the music / dancing!

  10. Kimm says:

    Team Karen and Ivy! There is enough of Bombshell for them both. Karen = young Marilyn; Ivy=older Marilyn.

  11. Forwarddad says:

    Good job NBC- take the series off for 9 months then wonder why ratings are in toilet. What the heck is that stragedy?

  12. ChristyA says:

    Well, if Karen ends up with the role in the finale, they can do what they like with season 2, because I’ll be too disgusted to watch it. There is NO way Karen would get within a hundred feet of that role.

  13. Tee says:

    Faithful watcher here with all my FB friend and family. TEAM KAREN ALL THE WAY! Down with Ivy!!! Best fun ever, watching Ivy go down.

  14. Danielle H says:

    So pissed that this is midseason again. The only logic I see behind it is that when NBC tanks again that they have somehing decent in the pike…

  15. EveatEden says:

    It was Mid-season this year. Plenty of shows start mid-season every year and retain their viewers. So they didn’t get moved to the fall, not that big a deal IMO. I prefer it, gives me something to watch in January! If everything started in the fall what would we watch in the spring/summer?

  16. Nikki says:

    I find it interesting how people say that ivy should’ve played it and not Karen “mostly because she didn’t know the role” which is strange how it turns out she knows everything, lands the costume changes, songs musical numbers and such and the new ending making the show a SMASH! Also ivys character is a two faces bitch who got what she deserved. Karen got the role as marilyn the RIGHT way :)

    • shannon says:

      Only she doesn’t? i’m waching it now and they’re making it pretty clear that karen doesn’t actually know all that she’s doing, meanwhile Ivy already knew most of the show. In the real world, there is no way in hell karen would have gotten the part. there are theater people all over the world rolling their eyes so hard right now

  17. shannon says:

    Here’s the problem with the Finale, Katherine McPhee was amazing, but Katherine McPhee had a lot of time to rehearse and learn her parts and many takes to get it right. I’m sorry but you cannot convince me that someone who barely knew half the role 12 hours before show time could perform the whole thing flawlessly that night. Sorry, but that just doesn’t happen. They could have made this believable, but they made it as unbelievable as you can get. Anyone who knows anything about theater is rolling their eyes right now.

    • ashely says:

      I was in a preformance of Wicked that my high school last year, i lost out on the role of Elphaba in the start. I loved the play and knew it by heart, so when the morning of the performance they told me that they needed me to fill the roll i was ready. The other girl had gotten very sick and lost her voice. In eight hours i had everything down and was ready to perform, i flawlessly landed it all. It is possbile to pull it off in 12 hours.
      -Theater Junkie

  18. Jessica says:

    I absolutley loved the finale…Team Karen!!! She did absolutley amazing in every part of the preview lastnight and Derek is right Karen has something that Ivy just doesn’t. Besides Ivy showed just how stupid she really is lastnight on top of sleeping with Dev, and every other thing by possibly attempting suicide. Anybody that does that real or made up is dumb. Like I said though Karen did amazing, and Katherine Mcphee’s voice is amazing. I love the show, and Im Team karen all the way..i have a small bit of pity for Ivy but thats about it. She has talent she just doesn’t use it correctly. Instead of worrying about sleeping with Derek she should’ve been worried about the lead. If she’s such a veteran of showbiz she should know how directors are….But TEAM KAREN CARTWRIGHT!!!!!

  19. Smashaholic says:

    There is no way in the real world Karen would have gotten that part, it’s just about as unrealistic as it gets. 12 or so hours isn’t enough time to learn half a show with a new song on top of that, it just doesn’t happen. I’d wish they’d stuck to what would have really happened rather than letting the good girl win so they would keep ratings. It was just so cliche letting the good hearted, all-American girl win.

  20. KarenForever says:

    Why are you all so negative and ridiculous? This is a SHOW! This is meant to entertain, not get everyone’s boxers in a bunch. For goodness sake just get over yourselves.