It's time for an encore! Although Smash was not a smash hit on NBC, another network is ready to embrace all the campy, Broadway goodness. Ovation has snagged the rights to air the previously-cancelled musical-drama giving new fans a chance to fall in love with the show's dynamic duo Ivy Lynn (Meghan Hilty) and Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee).
According to Entertainment Weekly, Ovation's Chief Creative Officer, Robert Weiss is thrilled that Smash will join their lineup. "Smash is exactly the kind of art-centric programming that Ovation's viewers crave. This high-quality series fits in brilliantly with our efforts to showcase the powerful role that the Arts play in our lives. Ovation is thrilled to satisfy the wishes of diehard Smash fans and followers to keep the series alive, as well as to provide viewers, who are new to the series, an opportunity to experience the incredible talent, music, dancing, drama and excitement."
Although NBC dimmed the lights on Broadway for this series, at least fans of the show will have the chance to relive the sparkling drama beginning July 19 at 8 PM. Tune in every Friday to watch the Season 1 drama with Karen and Ivy's quest for the spotlight as Marilyn in "Bombshell" and Season 2 will premiere later this fall.
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The Season 2 premiere of Smash is just a few hours away, so to help refresh your memory after all of those Bombshell-free months, we’ve compiled a drama-filled catch-up guide. We also used our powers of penmanship to create a list of the top five things you need to know about tonight’s two hour spectacular, “On Broadway” and “The Fallout.” Plus, we chatted with the ridiculously talented Smash newcomers and gathered everything you need to know about your three soon-too-be favorite characters. Let the show begin!
Where We Left Off: Season 1 of Smash was filled to the brim with creative performances, A-list guest stars, and cringe-worthy dialogue — making it everyone’s favorite show to critique yet crave. Creative duo Julia and Tom were inspired to create a brand-new Broadway musical centered on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Chorus line-veteran Ivy Lynn was an obvious choice for the sexy yet curvy blonde lead, however, there was something about small town girl Karen Cartwright that captured director Derek Wills’ attention. Pretty impressive, considering the fact that Ivy was sleeping with Derek. For months, the two girls battled it out back and forth for the coveted role (and at some point a random movie star played by Uma Thurman held the role until they discovered that she couldn’t sing and was nearly poisoned to death with a peanut-filled smoothie). But through all the craziness, Karen nabbed the lead in the end and gave a tear-jerking performance, despite the trauma of being “in tech” for what seemed like years and realizing that Ivy had slept with her fiancé. Oh and there was also Ellis, a smarmy assistant turned associate producer turned killer smoothie maker that everyone absolutely hated until he was finally fired in the finale.
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Biggest Jaw-Dropper of Season 1: Music-filled shows are no longer anything new, however, the most jaw-dropping attribute of Smash is how consistently amazing all of the original songs are. Out of season one’s 15 episodes, Smash featured 30 catchy original songs, and many of the numbers were accompanied by over-the-top yet mesmerizing performances. How many times did you watch “The National Pastime” — the infectiousy fun baseball performance — on YouTube? Six… hundred times? Us too!
Biggest Letdown of Season 1: The entire Julia storyline. From the completely random unsuccessful adoption, to the strained infidelity-ridden marriage, to the absolutely pathetic acting from her pot-smoking, sandwich-loving son Leo, Smash wasted valuable performance time trying to make us care about this family. We never did.
Most Improved Character: This category is such a toss-up, but we’re going to give the coveted award to Derek Wills. At the beginning of the season, Derek was a womanizing douchebag who dangled his directorial power like a cat toy to young and ambitious women. It didn’t help that he was sleeping with Ivy, and that she oh-so conveniently snagged the role of Marilyn. But as the episodes progressed, so did Derek’s sense of compassion and likability. He became quippy, enthusiastic and — dare we say it — absolutely charming.
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Least Improved Character: Congratulations Miss Eileen Rand! Despite the fact that somehow you nabbed a hunky young bartender boyfriend, your personality was a stagnant mess of we don’t really care. However, we do admire the way you can throw a drink in a man’s face with dignity and class.
What We Ultimately Want To See: After the back and forth will-they-won’t-they of Season 1, we want to see Bombshell finally make it to Broadway. Also, we need Karen to have a bit more of an edge, and to not be swept away by another loser llike Dev. We want to see Ivy stand on her own two feet and become the strong and fierce lead performer that we all know she can be. Karen and Ivy need to have at least three more duets together, and we want at least one throwback line to Will and Grace when Sean Hayes guest stars. Just for fun, we’d like to see Neil Patrick Harris have a brief but memorable appearance. And even though we’re already completely and totally enamored by Karen’s new love interest Jimmy, we’d like to see what a full-fledged Karen/Derek relationship would look like.
What Would Make Us Turn Our Backs: If Ellis sabotages Bombshell one more time we’re going to scream and shove peanuts down his throat. Get a hobby, dude.
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5 Reasons You Should Keep Watching: The Season 2 premiere is jam-packed with numerous reasons as to why you need to keep watching this musically inclined drama, but we’ll go ahead and limit it down to five.
1. Meet Your Newest Crush: Smash hasn’t had a full-fledged bad boy just yet, so get excited ladies — Jimmy is that gorgeous troublemaker that your mother warned you about. We caught up with star Jeremy Jordan to learn a bit more about this unbelievably talented composer. “He’s got a pretty shady past that led him to build these barriers around himself and not trust anyone,” he says. But of course, how could you not trust Karen’s sweet small town face? These two opposites definitely begin to attract within the very first episode, and by the fourth things are very heated. Jordan explains, “There’s that energy and that unspoken connection — that undeniable thing between them that keeps drawing them together, even though they’re so bad for each other.”
2. Tootles Boys: The three most obnoxious fellas to suck up screen time in season one — Dev, Leo and Ellis — are MIA from our line of sight for at least the first four episodes. Sure they may be briefly mentioned, but their whining and overall suckiness won’t take up Smash’s precious screen time. Phew!
3. Newbie Roomie: Now that Karen is officially a single lady, she needs a new place to live and a fresh start. Enter stage left, Ana: a spunky, outgoing and insightfully opinionated Broadway hopeful and friend of Karen’s. The background info on these two ladies was cut from the first episode, but Krysta Rodriguez gave us the inside scoop, “She is a friend from Karen’s life in New York," she says. "Ana was on tour with West Side Story, but she knew [Karen] before from the restaurant they worked in. Now that Ana’s back, she has a room to move into.” Ana will quickly get involved with the new musical that Smash is featuring, “Hit List” — an edgy and contemporary tale that is completely different than “Bombshell.” Fans can except to see Ana definitely try to make Karen a more outgoing an assertive person, and for that we thank her.
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4. Will & Grace 2.0: It’s no secret that Julia’s marriage is on the rocks, and Brian d’Arcy James (who plays her husband) is no longer a series regular. So, spoiler alert: By the end of the first episode, Julia will be turning to her bestie/business partner Tom for some comfort, but instead she’ll wind up with a new roommate! “You know what why don’t you just stay here," Tom says. "It’ll be like old times, or a sitcom.” It’s Will & Grace the sequel, and although nothing can top the amazingness of NBC’s former blockbuster comedy, fans can look forward to seeing Debra Messing act a lot her former erratic character. Plus, Sean Hayes — aka Just Jack! — is guest staring this season. Now if we can somehow get Megan Mullally to bring back Karen as an investor then we can all die happy.
5. Hot New Musical: If you were getting sick of the cast constantly singing about Marilyn Monroe, then you’re in luck! “Hit List” is the edgy new musical that Jimmy is composing and Kyle is writing. Who is Kyle, you ask? We talked with Smash newbie Andy Mientus to fill you in on this endearing new character. “Kyle is a completely open book, and a total purely beating heart. It’s all on his sleeve — if he’s star-struck he can’t help but express it, and he over-speaks and catches himself. He loves musical theater so intensely more than anything else." Fans will instantly see that these two men are more than just business partners. Mientus explains, “Kyle has been Jimmy’s support for a lot of years, They’re childhood friends, and they really are almost like brothers. Kyle is really responsible for Jimmy being on a good path — he’s helped him come out of some trouble.”
Don’t miss the Smash Season 2 Premiere tonight at 9 PM on NBC!
Will you tune into Smash tonight? Which new character are you excited to meet? Sing your thoughts in the comments below!
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[Photo Credit: NBC]
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It’s no secret that despite some fantastic (or the very least, entertaining) programming, NBC just can’t manage to get a hold on a truly dedicated audience. That’s probably because for every 30 Rock they have a Whitney and they hedge so many of their bets on reality shows like The Biggest Loser and The Apprentice. And as fantastic as some of their series are – hello, Community and Parks and Recreation – many are admittedly just a little niche. So, now that a brand new, accessible and well-crafted series like the Steven Spielberg-produced Smash has come along, NBC isn’t the only one holding its breath hoping desperately that this one sticks.
Smash follows Broadway newbie, Karen (Katharine McPhee), as she chases her dreams with dismal audition after dismal audition. She’s helped along by her loyal, loving boyfriend Dev (Raza Jaffrey), who believes in her more than a helicopter mom on Toddlers and Tiaras. Opposite Karen is the girl who would be a villain on any other show: Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty). As she and Karen vie for the lead in a new Marilyn Monroe musical, we start to see the inner workings of a rivalry that’s a little more complicated than you might think. Ivy has been working on Broadway for years as a chorus girl, but never gets the spotlight she deserves – and a few subtle hints tell us it’s because of her curvy stature in a world where skinny-minnies rule the stage. As Karen is getting her possible big break, Ivy is trying to finally step out of the background. We’re torn – sort of. Karen is still the star; Ivy just complicates things by being a real person instead of a one-dimensional brat.
But the series doesn’t keep it that simple. The girls are just the pretty faces at the front of an arduous process. Song-writing team Julia Huston (Debra Messing) and Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) are the ones trying to orchestrate this whole Marilyn romp, and Julia is doing it despite her husband’s request that she spend more time with him and their son. Throw into this mix a veteran Broadway producer with a divorce in the works (Anjelica Huston) and a talented, yet notorious bad boy director (Jack Davenport) who’s constantly at odds with one-half of the song-writing team (that would be the fussy, yet wildly creative Tom), and you’ve got one hell of a recipe for an enthralling, musical good time. It’s admittedly adult, but with traces of that adolescent ambition that for some people, never seems to fade away. It’s the perfect pitch for a wide audience, weaving grounded issues with big dreams.
Then, there’s the comparison we can’t help but touch upon. Original songs and covers abound, but the series doesn’t fall into the Glee trap – yet. Like a proper Broadway show, the numbers are given context via actual context (rather than high school play announcements about why this next song is happening in one, two, three…). The performances also aren’t the end goal; they’re the whipped cream placed gently on top of a steaming, rich mug of hot cocoa. Smash has an engaging, robust story (though to be fair, Glee started that way too) and the songs are just the color that brings that story to life, instead of the color that stands in for the actual story.
Still, just as Fox’s musical series eventually did, Smash has the potential to wind wildly out of control. It boasts six main characters with already thorough backstories and its musical performances are intoxicating (not to mention, they help move the plot along quite nicely). It would be easy for the series to begin to lean too heavily on the music as the plot begins to grow, making it difficult to actually tell the stories while attempting to make room for more singing and dancing. Granted, none of this is an issue if the show doesn’t catch on. That’s why I’m here, imploring you to get your jollies from the fun, glamorous new series. If we work together, NBC won’t have to cut the cord on this one after just three episodes.
Will you be tuning in? Share your thoughts in the comments, or get at me on Twitter. @KelseaStahler
Smash premieres Monday, Feb. 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. And for more photos from the hit series, click on the picture above.
One of the most hotly anticipate shows this winter is NBC's musical romp, Smash. The series boasts vets from all facets of the industry - small screen sirens, Broadway startets and vets, and big screen mavens all join together to round out a talented cast. But from the looks of the pilot episode - and the poster (left) many of our players are looking at almost equal billing and equal screen time. It takes a village to raise a Broadway show, and this village is raising a show about one of Hollywood's biggest icons, Marilyn Monroe, so they've assembled quite the team. So who are we dealing with here? We've got a little breakdown of the six main cast members, and indispensible agents in the creation of a full-scale Broadway production, for NBC's biggest midseason player.
The Sweet, Struggling Newbie
Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee)
Ambiguously Midwestern background: check. Sweet demeanor thrown in stark contrast against the cutthroat theater realm: check. Karen is the singer we all love to root for. The one who's rife with talent that we, the audience, see so clearly while those dummy casting directors on TV can't seem to grasp it. She's a newbie who can't manage to even break in to dance in a chorus line, but then, she has her moment. She shines and the whole world stops to listen. It's like a Cinderella story except her crowning moment doesn't come with a prince, but instead with rehearsals, leotards and even steeper competition.
The Desperate Diva
Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty)
As a contrast to McPhee's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Karen, Ivy has been at this for years. And she's been in show after show, but only as a chorus girl. She's sick and tired of being relegated to the background; she's got the chops, but she can't manage to squeeze her way into the spotlight. She's a "shoe-in" for Marilyn - she's got the curves, the sass, and she happens to be besties with one half of the song-writing duo behind the whole thing. And we'd almost root for her too if she wasn't going up against our heroine, Karen.
The Talented Working Mom
Julia Houston (Debra Messing)
Messing takes on another classic New York profession (on Will & Grace, she was a highly stylized interior designer): a lauded lyricist whose many works have graced the Great White Way. There's just this other small factor of her family life and a husband who thinks she works too much. They're looking to adopt, but her song-writing genius cannot be stopped. She's a much more sane character than our beloved Grace Adler, but Messing brings a bit of that manic charm to the busier-than-a-bumble-bee lyrical genius.
The Stubborn Good Guy
Tom Levitt (Christian Borle)
He's the yin to Julia's yang, the other half of her song-writing duo. He lives, breathes, eats, and sleeps theater and once the idea of a Marilyn musical is out in the open, there's no stopping him. Plus, he's desperate to help out his dear friend, Ivy Lynn, who he sees as the embodiment of the beloved screen siren. He is very much the good guy, but his stubborness can tend to get in the way - and on occasion, make him look like the cantankerous one.
The Brilliant Bad Boy
Derek Wills (Jack Davenport)
He's your typical can't-live-with-him-can't-live-without-him character - and the object of good guy Tom's ardent ire. Derek Wills is known across the industry for his brilliant choreography and direction, so naturally the producer wants him on the Marilyn job. And from what we've seen thus far, Tom's going to have to get over his issues because Wills is the tops. He's also attractive, alluring and British - the trifecta. He seems to be a bid of a baddie, but one we're going to love watching.
The Queen Bee Broadway Vet
Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston)
She's the final piece of the musical puzzle: the money. A legendary Broadway producer, Eileen can spot a hit from a mile away and she sees dollar signs with the Marilyn musical. She's determined to get the best team signed on for the project, even if that means she has to play referee while Derek and Tom duke it out. Of course, added to all this infighting even in the Marilyn production's infancy, she's got her own war at home. We're sure this won't complicate things...at all.
Smash premieres on NBC, Monday, Feb. 6. For a sneak peek, you can watch the entire pilot episode on NBC.com.