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Steven Spielberg's "Smash": Bringing Broadway to the Small Screen

Musical Theatre on Television


Steven Spielberg's



"Smash" is a musical television drama that revolves around the trials and tribulations of mounting a Broadway show by a well-known Broadway writing team based on the life and career of screen icon Marilyn Monroe. With its Tony Award-winning songwriting team and numerous Tony favorites, "Smash" is bound to be a hit.

Multiple Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Steven Spielberg brainstormed the idea of a show that follows the journey of the creative writing team, the producer, the “Broadway Baby,” and the “Broadway Wannabe.”

The show is presented by NBC, who made the pilot episode available online for previewing before the actual pilot aired on television on February 6, 2012.

Say the "Smash" producers, "The show celebrates the beauty and heartbreak of the Broadway theater as it follows a cross-section of dreamers and schemers who all have one common desire - to be a 'Smash.'"


Successful songwriting team, “Tom” and “Julia,” begin writing a show based on an idea they had years ago — the life and career of Marilyn Monroe. Preoccupying Julia’s mind is her private turmoil of adopting a child from oversees with her husband "Frank." But her attention is divided between her two passions — Broadway and motherhood. She barely notices Frank’s dissatisfaction with being a stay-at-home dad away from his career as a teacher.

Meanwhile, Eileen hears about the project and takes Tom and Julia and the Marilyn project under her wing. Once casting is underway, a rivalry grows between the two starlets in line to be cast as the legendary Marilyn. Broadway musical theatre veteran Ivy Bell is determined to leave the chorus and finally shine in the center spotlight on a Broadway stage. Also up for the part is waitress and inexperienced Midwesterner Karen who wants Broadway fame as well. The rivalry is fed by the amorous attentions of the director, Derek.


“Tom,” the Marilyn production’s composer, is played by multifaceted Christian Borle, who received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Musical in the original Broadway production of "Legally Blonde: The Musical." Borle brings serious Broadway theatre chops, having performed major roles in Mary Poppins, Spamalot, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and the 2000 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar.

“Julia,” the Marilyn production’s lyricist, is played by Emmy Award winner and comedienne Debra Messing of "Will & Grace" fame. Her husband, “Frank,” is deftly portrayed by Broadway leading man, Brian d'Arcy James, who was last seen on Broadway in Time Stands Still and was nominated for a Best Featured Actor in a Musical Sweet Smell of Success and for a Best Actor in a Musical Tony for the title role in Shrek The Musical and wowed audiences with his tour-de-force performance Off-Broadway in Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party.

Megan Hilty who played “Glinda” on Broadway’s real “smash” hit Wicked as well as Dolly Parton’s role of “Doralee” in the original Broadway production in 9 to 5: The Musical. Karen played by “American Idol” finalist Katharine McPhee.

Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston of Prizzi's Honor shines as a female producer determined to raise the money for the Marlyn workshop on her own, finding previously open door shutting in her face without her ex-husband’s clout to lean on.

Derek is played with erratic, egotistical slimy ease by Jack Davenport, perhaps most famous for his roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise of films. Jaime Cepero of Porgy and Bess stars as “Ellis,” and Raza Jaffrey from Sex and the City 2 and "MI-5" stars as “Dev.”

Creative Team

The Executive Producer of "Smash" is Steven Spielberg, who has directed and/or produced some of the most famous and most successful movies and television shows, including Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List, and NBC's "ER." Other Executive Producers include Craig Zadan, Neil Meron of the Academy Award-winning film version of Chicago with Catherine Zeta-Jones as well as Hairspray, Darryl Frank, and Justin Falvey who worked on "United States of Tara" and "The Borgias."

The music dream team behind “Smash’s” original songs include Tony Award and Grammy Award winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who both worked on Hairspray and 2011’s Tony Award nominee for Best Musical, Catch Me If You Can. Shaiman and Wittman also serve as executive producers to lend authenticity to the show’s plotlines and oversee the music development.

The pilot was written by acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Theresa Rebeck who worked on "Mauritius" and "NYPD Blue". "Smash" is a production of Universal Television in association with DreamWorks Television and Madwoman in the Attic. The pilot was directed by Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer of Spring Awakening and American Idiot.

"Smash" airs on NBC on Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET and 9:00 p.m. CT, with replays available on the website.

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