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Smash Gets Renewed But Creator and Showrunner Theresa Rebeck Departs

Television
by Melissa Silverstein
March 26, 2012 11:55 AM
5 Comments
  • |

With a one-two punch on Thursday afternoon, NBC renewed Smash -- the show about creating a musical based on Marilyn Monroe, but also revealed that the creator, main writer, executive producer and showrunner Theresa Rebeck will be leaving the show.  (Full disclosure - Theresa Rebeck is a friend.)

Now none of the press says she was fired, but when was the last time you saw news about a show getting renewed and literally in the next breath saying the showrunner had decided to depart.  People don't decide to depart from TV shows that get renewed.  They get pushed.  Deadline says she is "stepping down."  The Deadline story also says they became concerned with the "creative direction" and that it has become "soapy."  Meanwhile, it is the network's highest rated show with adults 18-49.

Whatever the shit that goes on behind the scenes of a creating a show (which in this show's case probably mirrors the stuff we are seeing onscreen), losing Theresa Rebeck is a big deal.  She's got a hot show on Broadway - Seminar.  She's got more shows getting ready to come to Broadway.  She's one of the top female voices in writing and if you think that we would be seeing the amazing Anjelica Huston on TV without a woman as the creator of this show, I've got a big bridge to sell you cheap.

But it is also a significant loss of a female showrunner and creator which needs to be noted.  This is one of the biggest shows on TV today.  And it was run by a woman.  But she was a woman in a sea of men. There were ten executive producers (and none of these ten were actual writers which is highly unusual in TV) and Theresa was the only woman.  I don't think I'm going out on a limb here to say that the powers at NBC are going to replace Theresa with a man. 

Lead Producer of ‘Smash’ Is Said to Step Down (NY Times)

‘Smash’ Creator Theresa Rebeck To Depart (Deadline)

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5 Comments

  • jakib | June 7, 2012 8:39 PMReply

    I thoroughly enjoyed Smash. In a television sea of "reality" shows, kardashian non entertainment, juvenile skin shows, it was totally refreshing and excellent entertainment to watch a show about behind the scenes theatre. The musical numbers were fantastic and I could certainly follow all the bread crumbs regarding the plot lines. It was fairly obvious that the adoption back story was going to lead into having one of the main characters become pregnant after her affair. Didn't need to be a playwright to see that coming for next season. For whatever reason Ms. Rebeck left, it's unfortunate. This show is in it's infancy and with the calibre of actors on the show, it could only go up shown by the ratings if it's kept on it trajectory. Not too many of us adults (51 y.o.) watch TV any more and it would be a shame to see this end due to politics.

  • A.L.Earle | April 9, 2012 4:28 PMReply

    As a female playwright I eagerly looked forward to Smash for some of the same reasons mentioned above; a show about theatre, run by a woman and a playwright. The show has been very disappointing for the very reason it should have been great -- the writing. I understand there is a suspension of disbelief dealing with television versus real life and for the sake of drama; but some things are SO wrong that I'm left flabbergasted that they would come from a writer with her credentials. The plot and character inconsistencies (sometimes in the same episode), , the storylines that have no relevance to the basic premise (the adoption... anything related to Dev) the basic storytelling just isn't there. What's bringing me back are the performances: Megan Hilty, Christian Borle, Jack Davenport are doing wonders with what they've been given, and the musical numbers from Marilyn: The Musical have been very good. A central premise of the show is that Karen is a diamond-in-the-rough, a girl who has the "IT" factor. Yet cast in that lead role is Katharine McPhee, who is pleasant enough and a solid singer but who has zero charisma. If that central premise isn't believable (which it's not), the rest of show crumbles around it.

  • E.J.M. | May 8, 2012 1:20 AM

    You got it right. After watching the show again and again and again I couldn't get over the feeling that something just wasn't right. Pleasant enough, but neither compelling enough or worthy of my time if it wasn't for my interest in the backdrop of the Marilyn story which I'm sorry to see them use in this way. I hope there's no chance of this making it from TV to Broadway.

  • Valerie Meachum | March 26, 2012 8:02 PMReply

    Full disclosure: I've enjoyed Smash, for the most part, but found it frustrating that almost every interaction between two women is dominated by jealousy -- be it professional or personal or both -- and have said more than once that it's particularly disappointing from a female showrunner. Is that a reality, of both show business and the culture at large? Sure. But it's still tedious-verging-on-gratuitous when, for example, Karen bristles with suspicion because the reporter her boyfriend has been talking with for professional reasons is an attractive woman.

    Why do I think that particular annoyance -- the only one I really have with the show -- isn't what's behiind this personnel change? I certainly don't expect it to be the solution.

    Theresa Rebeck has created an entertaining, engaging hit. It makes no sense whatsoever to take it away from her.

  • KT Curran | March 26, 2012 2:22 PMReply

    This is terrible and disturbing news. I can't imagine what NBC could be thinking - it is precisely the work of Theresa Rebeck - the writing and plot lines - that make the show so authentic to theatre people. It was a creative breath of fresh air - refreshing and honest. What a stupid decision by NBC! Theresa Rebeck will be fine - but SMASH will NOT be SMASH without her.

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