Smash! Josh Safran on What's New for Season 2, Karen-Vs.-Ivy, Derek-as-Fosse and the Ellis Tease

Smash - Season 1TVLINE | The decision to have Derek’s sexual sins visited upon him this season: What are you hoping to do with that?
It was really important for me to look at all of the characters together and go, “OK, what are their personal stakes this year?” And one of the things that the writers and I talked about was how Derek (Jack Davenport) is very much a descendant of Bob Fosse, and what would happen if Fosse existed today? Could he get away with all of the ways he treated the people that he worked with, both good and bad? And the answer for us was “probably not.” So soon as the writers room got together, I had a screening of All That Jazz and a couple of other movies.

TVLINE | Do you think that, as Gossip Girl fans might put it, Derek and Ivy are “endgame”?
It’s so funny — I have not been able to think about “endgame” on this show, refreshingly. The Gossip Girls are always like, “Where’s the end game?”

TVLINE | I feel like the Ivy/Derek relationship is a lot more mature than it appeared at first blush.
In our minds it was very clear that Ivy is the one person who knows him better than anybody but has “been there, done that” and might not go there ever again. However, they’re incredibly bonded. They understand each other as artists and one of the things so great about both of them is that they have a very similar pursuit. Ivy wanted to be a star, that’s all she wants; Derek wants to be Derek, that’s all he wants. I don’t know if their relationship is romantic, but relationship-wise they definitely have a bond throughout the whole season.

RELATED | Exclusive: Smash Finds Its JFK — Plus, Watch the New Season 2 Trailer

TVLINE | In the premiere, someone texts Ellis. Did you consider putting him on camera for a voice call instead? Just for shock value?
We did think about it at one point but we felt like we didn’t want to necessarily state that he would be back. If you see the person, it feels like next week there’s going to be a story with him and there’s not, so it would have been disingenuous. [Ed. Note: Ellis will (probably) be back, though!]

TVLINE | What about Julia’s son Leo. Does he pop up, even via an iPhone photo or something?Smash - Season 2
Yes. Julia has a son and we don’t want to say that these things didn’t exist. And it’s very important to us to show that she still is a working mother. That continues, but maybe not to the extent of last year.

TVLINE | When you do bring him back, will he be, you know, less whiny?
I think when you see him you will see him in a different capacity.

TVLINE | For the imminently single Julia, you have a couple of potential romantic interests in queue, played by Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me) and Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order). How are they introduced?
You will meet Daniel’s character in Episode 3. He and Julia have an antagonistic relationship but it’s professional. Also, I think that Julia, going through a divorce, is maybe not entirely ready to jump back in[to the dating pool]. There’ll be a slow reconnecting to being single as the season progresses for her. Jesse comes in as a director of an Off Broadway theater, and he and Julia cross paths and they have a history so it’s “interesting.” I don’t want to give too much away.

TVLINE | Sean Hayes also comes on for a couple episodes, but not in a single scene with his Will & Grace costar Debra Messing. Did you feel that would have been a little too “on the nose”?
It wasn’t so much that. When you see those episodes it wouldn’t have been organic to actually do it. It would have looked like just a stunt. Their storylines are not actually related at all, so the audience would have known we were forcing something.

TVLINE | There’s a line in the premiere where Tom says to Julia, “We could live together. It could be like a sitcom!”
Yes. That line was winking enough!

Want more scoop on Smash, or for any other show? Email and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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  1. Carola says:

    Well I for one hope Derek/Ivy are NOT endgame! We´ve had enough of them in season 1. Sorry, but they don´t have chemistry on screen. It would be very disappointing if they end up together. Plus I understand they are very similar, but that´s the thing. THey are too jaded for each other. IMO they both need someone different in their lives to bring out the best out of their characters.

    I still hope Josh continues to develop the relationship between Karen & Derek. Those two are the ones we want to see on screen! And from what I´ve seen this season even if she is with another guy, a friendship and bond is forming there too.So hopefully sometime in the future they will get together! I am so looking forward to it.

    • Nia says:

      Word!!! I don’t know how Ivy/Derek is even sth to talk about. It was obviously a quick stop to those character’s journey. Nothing more.
      Derek/Karen is the “it” romantic story on that Show

    • Haie says:

      Here girl, take my life.

      You’re so right. Ivy and Derek were so boring… their scenes together were boring, as well as their relationship.
      We’ve had enough of them in season one. I don’t need more Divy crap on my screen in season two.

      Kat and Jack have an amazing chemistry. This can’t be ignored, just like that…
      Don’t do that with us Josh.

    • Bobby says:

      Are you for real? Karen is boring as hell and Karen/Derek is a snoozefest.

      • I’m bored to tears by Derek and Karen also, and found Derek and Ivy to have the only interesting, layered relationship on the show. I’m not sure how anyone could term it “boring”, but then again, it would be boring if we all watched for the same things. In fact, if Derek and Ivy are done I might step out of the whole season depending upon what else happens, it was about the only thing I liked throughout the whole of first season.

    • Nayda says:

      I am a fan of Katherine Mcphee and I think the show is beautiful. I enjoy the music and pretty much everything of it. I do hope that Karen and Derek stay together. He looks out for her, shows respect, and for once he looks truly in love. I would be very disappointed if this is not the case at the end.

    • gail says:

      I hope they do not end the show but if they do which is a tragic mistake. I have to agree that
      Derek and Karen need to end up together. They have amazing chemistry and he has been
      in love with her for a long time. I have been waiting as well. Also maybe another network will
      pick it up if NBC cancels it.

  2. Remy says:

    Yes! I can’t wait to see the second half of the season premiere! I’m excited to see where Smash is going this season.

  3. Gillian says:

    Derek/Karen are much more interesting than Derek/Ivy. They also had much more chemistry last season. I’m cautious about this season but hoping the show lives up to last season’s finale, which was incredible.

  4. Lily18teen says:

    seriously, Who’s asking about Derek and Ivy????? NO ONE thinks Derek and Ivy are end game. Especially when there’s so much more potential and chemistry between Derek and Karen. even with Jimmy in the mix, you feel as if that there’s an inevitability happening between Derek and Karen.

    I don’t understand why you didn’t ask more Derek and Karen and Jimmy questions. Those were more interesting questions that i would like answered.

    And for the record, I saw what you did there with you trying to imply that Kat Mcphee isn’t talented. Your IVY bias is showing. very unprofessional.

  5. Gabrielle says:

    No to Derek/Ivy. Just no.

  6. Jen says:

    Derek and Karen are definitely the “IT” couple! Katharine McPhee and Jack Davenport just ooze chemistry. Ivy and Derek are like watching paint dry. They shouldn’t even be discussed as endgame.

    • ABBY says:

      I’m not a fan of Derek and Ivy either but I think the lack of chemistry between KMc/JD is actually painful to watch. I guess chemistry really is subjective.

  7. quang says:

    Man, shippers really are really are the worst.

  8. dan says:

    I think putting Karen and Derek together might go a long was toward having viewers embrace Kat McPhee as a lead. She’s at her best with him, and not with these boring guys they’ve saddled her with. Well, to be honest, Dev was okay, but this new guy is like Ellis the sequel.

    • ising says:

      I agreeee…I hate the new direction its heading toward..the two new guys are moody ,ungreatful n redundant…I love the guys voice but it puts k mcfee n a diff. Light n my opinion.I see her as more childlike around them,perhaps given their age but the ongoing attitude of the both of them is annoying…while I didn’t like the way dereks charecter man handled n threatened dude,nor do I see him n kat as a real combo,nothing personal,I like kat,extremely talented but not a romantic mature to me,def sweet hearted charecter but seemed before her n der. Might do alright n clearly the viewers want that direction but I have a suspicion that as soon as attitude boy acts out,shell find out,relationship w der. Will be overr before it began and a,shell tell him off after he puts a move on ,b,her n dude will get into it n blow up n shell find out n go off on der. Orrrr the unexpected one be w der…my apologies for using word dude,I d k his name but still,seeing her dissapointment in going to have drinks w derek rather than dude was sad n shouldn’t have bn written that way n my opinion…der. supposedly longed after her bche couldn’t have her n built trust n report and now he went protective underhanded??why not write it honest n let things develop?

  9. charissa29 says:

    I watched Gossip Girl and when I heard that Josh Safran would be showrunner on Smash, I almost through my tv across the room. At least we can hope he doesn’t show a scorching contempt for Smash audiences. Hopefully he won’t throw in big game changing plots that fizzle out with no follow through; or have people play hopscotch from bed to bed and person to person for no conceivable reason except chaotic tension. Sigh.

  10. AngD says:

    Personally, I could care less for who is or is not paired with Derek. I actually prefer the storylines where Ivy and Karen are frenemies – competing with each other, but also attaining an understanding of the other that builds respect for each other.

    Tom and Julia are my other favorites. Don’t really care about Anjelica Huston’s character on the show – she doesn’t seem like ‘strong’ person who would be producing a show – the best part about her is watching her throw drinks in her ex’s face.

  11. Tracy says:

    UGH! Ivy and Derek cannot possibly be the end game! These two characters have zero chemistry and are completely boring together! Derek needs to be with Karen! Those two sizzle together and the hope that they will get together is one of the things that keeps me watching!

  12. Bobby says:

    Karen is genuinely one of the most boring characters on television right now. Does anyone even buy that she deserves anything more than the more-talented Ivy?

    • linds says:

      This. I had never even heard of Megan before SMASH, but just fell in love with her… and her massive talent. I stopped watching at the end of Season 1 because it seemed they were simply making Ivy horrible so that we HAD to accept Karen as the ‘star’ and the ‘good girl.’ Meh… she just seems like a bland bit$h to me. I want to like her, but I just can’t. Hopefully, this season will allow both women to have layers.

  13. Alex C says:

    Derek/Karen was the pairing with the most potential. Derek/Ivy was showed to be a disaster.

  14. Dana Kiehl says:

    Good interview. Safran is showing a far more diplomatic and easy-going personality than Rebeck ever did in interviews. I’m looking forward to the new season. It sounds like Safran made a lot of good changes.

    BTW, if they are thinking of having Ellis pop up again, I wonder if they would recast him?

  15. Mary Carlson says:

    Ivy is the real talent here. Karen is a pretender to the diva throne!

  16. DR says:

    I want to see Karen become less of a goody goody and more of a woman of the world. Then, it would be great for Karen and Derek to get together. I think McPhee could handle the change in personality.

  17. DR says:

    Would love to see Karen and Derek get together.