Will "Smash" splash or crash for NBC?

Thu Feb 2, 2012 8:32am EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NBC's new musical drama "Smash" could hardly have a stronger pedigree: Idea by Steven Spielberg, songs by award-winning Broadway producers, stars including Anjelica Huston and Debra Messing, and screen icon Marilyn Monroe holding the whole show-within-a show together.

Yet success couldn't be harder to assess in the high stakes prime-time TV gamble for NBC as the struggling network looks for its first scripted series hit since 2006.

"You can't pin a network's fate on any one show. But having said that, if you ever could, it would be this network and this show," said James Hibberd, senior staff writer at Entertainment Weekly.

"Smash", which makes its debut on Monday, is a backstage tale of writers, directors, producers and aspiring actresses working to create a new Broadway musical based on the life of Monroe.

The idea came from Spielberg, and the show is being written by playwright Theresa Rebeck ("Seminar"). It features both cover versions of hit songs and original material written by "Hairspray" Tony winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

TV viewers have seen nothing quite like "Smash" in recent years. Show-stopping musical numbers are interspersed with darker casting couch moments and theatrical back-stabbing, giving industry watchers little to compare it with.

"It's the type of show that could either be a huge hit, or just go down in flames. It's a little bit different," said Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at advertising firm Horizon Media.


<p>(L - R) Cast members Anjelica Huston, Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty attend the panel for the NBC television series "Smash" at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, California January 6, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>