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Monday, February 4, 2013

Scoop On SMASH Season 2

As NBC’s Broadway-musical drama “Smash” prepares to launch its second season at 9 p.m. Tuesday, it’s no secret the network thinks the show needs some resets to get back onto the star track.

Want proof?

In a short, lighthearted scene toward the end of Tuesday’s episode, Debra Messing’s Julia Houston is lovingly advised to dial back on the bulky scarves that emerged as her first-season fashion signature.

The scarves became a lightning rod for Internet discussion last year, with a vocal faction arguing they did not serve Julia well.

So yes, the scarves might make Julia a metaphor for the show itself. New season, new attitude.

NBC’s broader concern about “Smash” became evident in March, when with two months to go in the first season, the network announced it was getting a new showrunner.

That’s like a team firing the manager or the coach, only more so. The departing showrunner, Theresa Rebeck, had created the series. Messing’s character was modeled after Rebeck, who likes to wear scarves.

Rebeck stepped down at a time when the show, which is expensive to produce, had lost several million viewers, dropping from a strong audience to an okay audience. There were also grumblings from critics and network creative people that “Smash” wasn’t focused as sharply as it needed to be.

Those complaints were a little vague, but one recurring component was that “Smash” is a show about Broadway and Broadway music, so that’s what it needed to focus on selling.

It’s also got soap, but the thinking was that if you focus on the show and the people who are making it, they’ll generate plenty of suds on their own.

For all the first-season problems, NBC always insisted it believed in “Smash,” seeing it as a kind of show that could help give the network a cool, exciting image while also drawing a substantial audience.

There’s a sense among many people who have seen early episodes of season two that this faith could be rewarded, because the renovations are giving the show some fresh sparkle.

It still won’t be easy. For one thing, “Smash” doesn’t have NBC’s most popular nonsports show, “The Voice,” feeding viewers into it this year.

Some of its core viewers — Broadway fans, who were among the most assiduous micro-analysts of the first season — are also nervous about replacing Rebeck, a real-life Broadway songwriter, with Josh Safran, who is best known lately as the showrunner for the CW’s just-concluded teen drama “Gossip Girl.”

Safran’s most important first job was to reassure fans that “Smash” had not just cashed in all its Broadway cred to chase TV trends.

When NBC presented a “Smash” panel to television critics in Pasadena last month, Safran repeated what he has said before, which is, “I don't think it’s changed that much.”

To get more specific about such an assertion, though, requires a mixture of honesty and diplomacy that can be hard to achieve in an unscripted monologue.

So Safran’s next sentence, in full, went like this:

“I think that, you know, the stuff from last year that you loved is still there, and the stuff from last year that maybe some people thought was, you know, a little went off on tangents we looked at and we sort of tried to find a way to circle back together, but it still is the same ‘Smash,’ just sort of maybe bigger, more music, sort of a little bit maybe younger in some regards, some of our new cast members, but I hope the people who watch it still see the same show that they loved.”

It’s okay to breathe again now.

Executive producer Neil Meron said sort of the same thing, except he added that Safran was the right guy to change what needed changing and leave the rest alone.

“I read everything,” Meron said of the reaction to season one. “I read the love. I read the hate. I read the bad. And I hope I was objective enough to say, ‘Well, that makes sense.’

“When Josh came in for the second season and addressed all of those issues, it seemed that it was really the right fit. First-season shows need time to find themselves, to really lock into what they are. Especially a show like ‘Smash’ that has so many moving parts, it’s still in that process of finding itself.”

One place it will be looking, says executive producer Craig Zadan, is toward a suggestion that another executive producer, a fellow named Steven Spielberg, made back when “Smash” was just a proposal.

“He said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if each year we did another musical?’,” recalls Zadan.

In the first season, the show revolved around “Bombshell,” a musical about Marilyn Monroe.

This year it will add “Hit List,” a very different kind of production, without the big, splashy classic-Broadway numbers of “Bombshell.”

“Hit List” is smaller, edgier, a show whose creator almost sees it as the anti-Broadway.

“Smash” fans have been reassured by the casting for the creators of “Hit List”: Andy Mientus and Jeremy Jordan, actors who themselves are deeply entrenched on Broadway.

They aren’t nearly as big on bulky scarves as Julia. They also have a different attitude toward success, though in the end they also want it.

So Meron says season two of “Smash” will be like the greatest hits of season one, and he thinks that will deliver exactly the hit that NBC is hoping for.

“It’s a fantastic show,” Meron says, “and when it works, I dare anybody to say what could be better entertainment.”

Here is the preview~ I can't wait myself!

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Live to love and love to live. The motto that I held on my entire life. Just a regular guy who loves what I am passionate in life. A song writer and producer. Living life on the move. From Malaysia to The States, New Zealand to Singapore. With the companion of great people in life. In and out from the music industry. Taking everything one step at a time. 
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