Smash won’t raise the curtain on Season 2 until midseason, but already the NBC brass are seeing signs that the musical drama, which debuted amid much hubbub last winter, will get back on track and fulfill its promise.
At the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, TVLine asked NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt and president of entertainment Jennifer Salke what it was that they bought into a little over a year ago that failed to materialize in the execution, resulting in the exit of Smash creator Theresa Rebeck, the enlistment of Gossip Girl alum Josh Safran as the Season 2 showrunner and a flurry of cast cuts.
“We had some ups and downs creatively as the season went on, which is true of any [new] show,” Greenblatt conceded. Specifically, he said where the show disappointed — and hopefully where Safran will fix things — is in “the arcing of storylines and … going one direction with a character and continuing in a really interesting way with that arc.”
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Greenblatt said that, even though Smash is slated for a midseason return, filming of Season 2 has already begun and “there are some great new storylines,” including the addition of Tony Award nominee Jeremy Jordan (Newsies) and American Idol alum/Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson (who appears in three of the first four episodes).
Speaking to the issue of inconsistent storytelling, Salke said that in a meeting with Safran, “[His] vision for the season… was so specific, you were on the edge of your seat. It just felt like there’s a real plan in place and things are coming together in a way that feels more consistent.”
As for the dropping of poorly received characters such as Ellis, Dev, Michael Swift and Julia’s hubby Frank — to which we suggested that Leo could very easily also be sent packing, perhaps to Micronesia — Greenblatt said, “It’s a big soap with a number of characters [and] at the end of the season, relationships end. You look at characters and evaluate whether they’re great characters or not.”