BroadwayWorld.com has excitedly learned that NBC has officially picked up the pilot entitled SMASH for a series to begin this fall. The news will be officially announced later this week at NBC's upfronts which begin next week in New York.
The show, which is about a group of people who come together to put on a Broadway musical was developed by NBC's Robert Greenblatt, Steven Spielberg, and Broadway producing team Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Broadway's Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman - whose latest venture, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, is now running at the Neil Simon Theatre - wrote the music for the show. Michael Mayer directed the project, and playwright Theresa Rebeck penned the script.
The pilot episode has been excitedly screened for NBC executives over the past weeks. The plot will follow an out-of-town tryout of a Broadway musical, and centers around a songwriting team (Debra Messing and Christian Borle) who write a musical about Marilyn Monroe based on an offhanded remark. They post a showstopping number on YouTube. When it's a viral hit, a producer (Anjelica Huston) who's looking to recapture success long past decides to produce the musical. There are two choices to play Marilyn: Karen (Katharine McPhee), a talented young newcomer, and Ivy (Megan Hilty), a theater veteran. Brian d'Arcy James has also been cast as Debra Messing's character's husband.
"I think we have a really strong pilot to show NBC, and a set of compelling characters who take you inside the theater world in funny and dramatic and emotionally real ways," Theresa Rebeck told the New York Times last month. "[NBC Chairman] Bob Greenblatt has been great throughout the process of making the pilot. I'm really hopeful." Greenblatt is no stranger to Broadway, having had a major hand in producing 9 TO 5 in 2009; Hilty played Doralee in the show.
Don't expect to see GLEE-like episodes packed with music, though: "Marc and Scott simply can't write that many new songs on a weekly basis," Rebeck notes. Rather than covering songs, the show would instead focus on the effort that goes into making the music, choreography, and direction of a show come together.