Is Bravo — once upon a time the network of Romeo and Juliet but now the home of Real Housewives of Fill In The Blank — taking a page from its past with one of its new scripted series projects? Fortune, a one-hour drama series script in development, from playwright Theresa Rebeck and exec producers John Wells and Andrew Stearn at Warner Horizon, is inspired by Charles Dickens’ 19th century classic Bleak House. Fortune is set in the present and follows a prominent New York family and the battle over an inheritance after the patriarch dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances. The original Bleak House details the impact of the endless litigation that results from a case in which a testator made several conflicting wills.
EXCLUSIVE: Smash, which was just renewed for a second season, will return next fall without its creator/executive producer/showrunner Theresa Rebeck. I’ve learned that Rebeck is stepping down as showrunner of the musical drama after its maiden season. Details about her future involvement with Smash are still being worked out. Rebeck will keep her executive producer title and may write scripts but will not be involved in the day-to-day running of series, returning to her theater career. Word is NBC will bring in a new showrunner for Season 2. It is unclear how that would affect writing executive producer David Marshall Grant, who joined the series after the pilot.
While the pilot of Smash was universally praised, there have been some qualms about the creative direction of the series — chronicling the creation of a Marilyn Monroe Broadway musical — which became increasingly soapy. Additionally, Smash, which started off big and broad, sometimes meandered into niche territory by focusing too much on the insider Broadway stuff over the human drama of the two singers, played by Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee, battling it out for the role of their career. Rebeck, a playwright in addition to being a screenwriter, will have a continuing presence on Smash — the female lead on the show, Julia (Debra Messing), half of a successful Broadway writing …
Brothers and Sisters showrunner David Marshall Grant has joined NBC’s new drama series Smash as an executive producer. He will help creator/executive producer Theresa Rebeck, a playwright and screenwriter. “I couldn’t have asked for a better partner,” Rebeck said. Based on an idea by Steven Spielberg, Smash chronicles the creation of a Broadway musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe, written by the successful songwriting duo of Tom (Christian Borle) and Julia (Debra Messing), who was based on Rebeck. Like Rebeck, Grant also has playwright background. Additionally, he has Broadway acting experience and was nominated for a Tony in 1994 for Angels in America. He joined Brothers and Sisters in Season 2 and served as showrunner for the past two seasons. On Smash, Grant will serve as an executive producer alongside Rebeck, Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
EXCLUSIVE: I hear FlashForward alum Jack Davenport will co-star opposite Debra Messing in the NBC hourlong pilot Smash, which was based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. The pilot, from DreamWorks TV and UMS, follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Marilyn Monroe musical on Broadway led by the musical’s composer Tom and lyricist Julia (Messing). British actor Davenport will play Derek, a fierce and intelligent musical choreographer trying to find his next big project who loves the idea of the Marilyn Monroe musical. Davenport also joins Megan Hilty in the pilot, written by Theresa Rebeck and to be directed by Michael Mayer. Smash landed Davenport in a competitive situation as he was also holding an offer for the lead in Marc Cherry’s ABC pilot Hallelujah. Davenport, repped by Gersh and Sanders Armstrong Caserta, also starred in the CBS’ praised drama Swingtown and in Coupling (the original hit British version) and co-starred in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Another Brit, The Beautiful Life alumna Ashley Madekwe is the first actress to be cast in ABC’s drama pilot Revenge, written by Swingtown creator Mike Kelley and to be directed by Phillip Noyce. It is a contemporary re-imagening of The Count of Monte Cristo from a female perspective and centers on Emily Thorn, a mysterious young woman who comes …
Messing is finalizing a deal to star in NBC’s hourlong pilot Smash, an ambitious drama about the mounting of a Broadway musical, which was based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. The pilot, produced by DreamWorks TV and UMS, follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Marilyn Monroe musical on Broadway. At the heart of the show are the musical’s composer Tom, who is gay, and the lyricist Julia (Messing), who is somewhat against the idea of a Marilyn Monroe-themed musical.
TV writer/playwright Theresa Rebeck wrote the script for Smash and is executive producing with Spielberg, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey of DreamWorks TV, Hairspray producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and Grammy and Tony-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who will pen original songs for the show. Michael Mayer (American Idiot) is directing. This has been a passion project for new NBC chief Bob Greenblatt who first developed it at Showtime. But, despite its pay-cable origins, Smash is said to be a broad, broadcast-type show.
After the end of NBC’s Will & Grace, which earned Messing an Emmy, she toplined the USA Network mini-series/series The Starter Wife. Last season, the actress, repped by Gersh and 3 Arts, starred in and produced the ABC comedy pilot Wright vs. Wrong.