It is a big week for producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. They have the live staging of The Sound Of Music starring Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer on NBC tomorrow night, and four-hour miniseries Bonnie & Clyde starring Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger airing Sunday and Monday on History, A&E and Lifetime. While most producers abandoned the longform genre when it went out of fashion over the last five years, Zadan and Meron stuck with it through their longform deal at Sony TV, producing mostly movies for Lifetime, including the highly rated Steel Magnolias reboot with an all-black cast. Their loyalty has paid off and the two now are at the forefront of longform’s resurgence. (Zadan and Meron just sold a high-profile Eliot Ness miniseries to NBC.) Coming up for the duo next year is the launch of their new MTV comedy series Happyland, the return of Lifetime dramedy Drop Dead Diva and the filming of E! pilot Songbyrd. Oh, and they also are returning as producers of the Oscars in March. I caught up with Zadan and Meron to talk about Bonnie & Clyde and The Sound Of Music — find out why they call them “historic”, how Underwood traveled to Austria to prepare for playing Maria in SOM and how close Miley Cyrus came to playing Bonnie in B&C — as well as the Oscars, Smash and a possible Steel Magnolia sequel.
DEADLINE: Were you surprised by the longform genre’s resurgence?
ZADAN: We did expect it would come back. Everything is cyclical and we thought that event television had become so scarce between all the reality shows and all the other things that were going on (and also the fact that there were still great movies on HBO and a few other places), that eventually everybody would catch on to bring it back if there was a big hit that warranted it. I think Hatfields & McCoys was so enormous that no one could ignore it anymore; they had to bring it back at that point. Read More »
Arts cable channel Ovation has picked up off-network rights to NBC’s recently cancelled series Smash. The first season of the Broadway drama will debut on Ovation on July 19, airing Fridays at 8 PM, with Season 2 set for a November premiere. “Smash is exactly the kind of art-centric programming that Ovation’s viewers crave,” said Ovation chief creative officer Robert Weiss.” Ovation is available in almost 50 million homes; it was dropped by Time Warner able at the beginning of the year.
EXCLUSIVE: Now that her TV series Smash has finished after a two-season run, Katharine McPhee is ready to try features. She has become attached to star in Depravity, a thriller with a script by Dennis Lehane and Paul Tamasy set to direct. A group of roommates accidentally kill an innocent man they thought was a thrill killer. It sends the group into a world unhinged from any moral compass, one in which they may be forced to confront not only the evil around them but the evil within them as well. McPhee stars as a twentysomething the group tries to scapegoat. The film is being produced by Dorothy Aufiero and Todd Eckert. McPhee is repped by The Schiff Company and WME.
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This was one of the most expected cancellations at NBC and yet it was probably one of the most difficult; that’s why it came down last. Smash was a passion project for NBC topper Bob Greenblatt, which he originally developed at Showtime and brought with him to NBC. It was one of his first pilot orders and the series launched with one of the biggest marketing campaigns in years on the night after NBC’s broadcast of the Super Bowl last year. The big-budget musical drama started off well, helped by a big lead-in from The Voice. But creatively, it couldn’t live up to the pilot and in renewing it for a second season, NBC changed showrunners. When it returned this midseason on Tuesday and without The Voice lead-in, Smash couldn’t regain traction, crashing in the ratings before getting exiled on Saturday.
NBC‘s Smash is getting a slot upgrade for its finale. The network has announced that the musical drama — which was banished to Saturdays after several very low-rated airings on Tuesday — will get a send-off on a Sunday. Smash will end its second season with a two-hour finale May 26, the first Sunday after the end of the season, airing from 9-11 PM. That will serve as a series finale as there is no possibility for Smash to come back next season.
NBC’s Smash and CBS’ The Amazing Race were honored tonight at the 24th GLAAD Media Awards in New York City. Smash was named best drama series and Amazing Race took the nod for best reality series. How To Survive A Plague, a film chronicling the rise of activism in the early years of AIDS, was named best documentary.
Dressed as a Boy Scout, Madonna presented the previously announced Vito Russo Award to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Russo, who died in 1990, was a film historian who voiced concerns about how gays and lesbians are portrayed in the media. Movie director Brett Ratner received GLAAD’s inaugural Ally Award. The award for Ratner represented a turnaround from a little over a year ago when he dropped out as producer of last year’s Academy Awards after joking at an early press conference that “rehearsing is for fags”. Ratner since worked with the group to produce a public service campaign, GLAAD Coming Out For Equality.
A list of last night’s awards follows. Read More »
NBC just made several scheduling changes, with low-rated Smash moving to Saturdays, and Go On getting a tryout on Thursday following the last episodes of the The Office. There is still some good news for loyal Smash fans — NBC is committed to airing all 17 episodes of the series’ second (and certain to be final) season. New reality series Ready For Love is getting a major upgrade. The two-hour show was originally slated to premiere on March 31 and air from 8-10 PM on Sundays, leading into The Apprentice. The dating series executive produced by Eva Longoria, which NBC brass have very high hopes for, is now getting the plum Tuesday 9-11 berth behind The Voice as of April 9. It will take over NBC’s Tuesday comedy block of Go On and The New Normal and drama Smash, which will all still get two airings on Tuesday with The Voice as 8 PM anchor. With Ready For Love relocating, NBC will air reruns of the Monday and Tuesday episodes of The Voice on Sunday, followed by Celebrity Apprentice, which will expand to two hours beginning April 14. We started the season with a three-way comedy face-off in the Tuesday 9 PM hour as Fox, ABC and NBC all scheduled single-camera half-hours in the slot. As of next month, only Fox will air comedies in the hour. Starting next week, Fox also is scaling back its comedy presence on the night from two to one hour (9-10 PM) but I hear the network brass remains committed to keeping comedies on Tuesday next season. Here are all the NBC changes:
READY FOR LOVE
- Will now air Tuesdays, beginning April 9 (9-11 p.m. ET) following “The Voice.”
- Beginning April 14 (9-11 p.m ET) will be expanded to two hours through the end of May.
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NBC‘s Smash wrapped filming of Season 2 last night, with several cast members taking to Twitter to report the news and post a photo or two: Megan Hilty, Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee, Andy Mientus, Jeremy Jordan and Krysta Rodriguez. But some tweeters wondered whether messages about “closing another chapter” might also imply the ending of the show. After a promising beginning last year, Smash has been troubled. Josh Safran replaced Theresa Rebeck as showrunner and the show’s focus was adjusted. Guest stars such as Leslie Odom, Sean Hayes and Jennifer Hudson also joined for multi-episode arcs. Ratings on its new night and without The Voice lead-in have not been great and last week tied the series low, which probably doesn’t bode well for a Season 3.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
With the stepping down of creator and original Smash showrunner Theresa Rebeck last April, the question ever since has been how season 2 of the NBC musical drama might differ — if at all — under new showrunner Joshua Safran. A few answers emerged this afternoon during a TCA session promoting the show’s sophomore campaign. Specifically, Safran plans, well, more of the same, just bigger and perhaps a little bit younger. “I had the great luxury to be an audience member through the first season,” he said. “As for changes, well, I don’t think it’s changed that much. The stuff you loved from last year is still there. Maybe there’s more music and maybe younger in regard to some cast members.” Returning to the show from the first season are Megan Hilty, Katharine McPhee, Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston. But they’re being joined by plenty of new faces, among them Jennifer Hudson (who appears in three of the first four episodes of season 2) as well as cameos from real-life Broadway vets including Bernadette Peters and Liza Minnelli. Safran also confirmed that, in terms of the original music increasing, there will be more than one new original song per episode as well as a greater number of musical sequences. “I kind of wanted to represent the bigger theatrical worldview on the … Read More »
NBC’s Smash returns for its second season on Tuesday, February 5 with a slew of new recurring guest stars including Jennifer Hudson, Sean Hayes and Jesse L. Martin, and new showrunner Josh Safran. You can watch a first-look clip here. Please note — the video auto plays. Read More »
Liza Minnelli will sing an original song with Christian Borle when she appears in an episode of NBC‘s Broadway musical drama Smash in the spring. The multiple Tony Award winner will play herself in the episode, titled “The Surprise Party”, and croon on a tune written by the show’s composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt, who worked with Minnelli while at Showtime on her Liza With A Z Broadway TV special, confirmed the casting today. Smash returns for its second season Tuesday, February 5 at 9-10 PM and settles into its regular 10-11 PM slot the next week. Jennifer Hudson, Jesse L. Martin and Sean Hayes have already been booked for roles in the upcoming season.
UPDATED: NBC just released the bulk of its midseason schedule, its first lineup shepherded by new head of scheduling Jeff Bader. It features The Biggest Loser moving to Mondays (8-10 PM) to serve as a bridge between the two cycles of The Voice. Its companion will be midseason drama Deception (formerly Infamous), which will air at 10 PM.
NBC is gambling with a long hiatus for breakout hit Revolution, which will wrap its 10-episode fall run with a big cliffhanger in November before coming back with 12 originals on March 25, following the cycle premiere of The Voice as the two shows will once again be paired together.
With Revolution staying put, Smash, which aired behind The Voice last spring, is moving to Tuesdays, premiering February 5 from 9-11 PM before settling into its regular 10 PM slot the following week. It will be a test for the musical drama, which will have a more modest lead–comedies Go On and The New Normal — the voice The Voice last season. Smash will replace Parenthood, which will have completed its 15-episode season by then. Another new Tuesday addition in midseason is Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, which will return on January 8 with back-to-back episodes from 8-9 PM and will continue in that hour. It will bridge the two cycles of The Voice, which returns March 26.
Order is restored on Thursday as cult comedy Community returns to its 8 PM slot. The much-delayed fourth season of Community will premiere February 7. It is one of two midseason comedy additions to NBC’s Thursday lineup, along with newbie 1600 Penn, which is getting the post-Office 9:30 slot beginning January 10. The following week, Parks And Recreation, which currently airs at 9:30 PM, will move back to its old 8:30 PM berth.
Related: ‘Community’ Cast Explains Its Premiere Date: Video Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Law & Order alum Jesse L. Martin is returning to NBC with a recurring role on the network’s musical drama Smash. He will play Scott Welker, an Artistic Director of a theater company who has history with a couple of the characters, and I hear he may get involved with Debra Messing’s Julia. Martin is one of several high-profile recurring guest stars on the upcoming second season of Smash along with Jennifer Hudson and Sean Hayes. He has strong Broadway credentials joining a show set on Broadway — he was an original cast member of hit musical Rent among other stage roles. Martin, repped by ICM Partners and manager Bob McGowan, was most recently seen in the feature Joyful Noise.
Sean Hayes will be pulling a triple duty on NBC this fall. The Emmy winner, who executive produces the NBC drama Grimm, will do a multi-episode arc on another NBC sophomore drama, Smash. He will play Terrence Falls, a comedic television and film star who is making his Broadway debut in the musical Liaisons, based on the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Due to a series of comic circumstances, he becomes a major thorn in the side for Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) and other characters. In addition to his stint on Smash, which reunites Hayes with Will & Grace co-star Debra Messing, he also is set to appear in a multi-episode arc on the upcoming second season of NBC’s comedy Up All Night as Ava’s (Maya Rudolph) former accompanist.
Leslie Odom Jr has been upped to series regular on NBC‘s Broadway drama Smash. Last season he recurred as Sam, the new love interest for Tom Levitt (Christian Borle). Odom, who recently closed in the Broadway musical Leap Of Faith, is repped by BRS Agency and Joan Sittenfield Management. In an additional Smash casting Krysta Rodriguez has joined the series as a regular playing ANA, the roommate to Katharine McPhee’s character Karen. Rodriguez is repped by Paradigm and managed by Principal.