NBC bets on ‘Smash’ to start turnaround

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NBC’s new show “Smash” is about the behind-the-scenes drama of making a Broadway musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe.

But before “Marilyn” can find its way to the Great White Way, NBC has to open “Smash.”

That will be no small task. NBC is in a deep ratings slump. Take the network’s Sunday night football franchise out of the equation and it only has one show -- ‘Harry’s Law’ -- among the top 50 most-watched programs. In the 18-to-49 demographic, the most sought after by advertisers, NBC only has two shows in the top 50 -- the aging sitcom ‘The Office’ and the reality show ‘Fear Factor.’

‘Smash’ has an all-star lineup; the cast includes Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston and Katharine McPhee. It was created by playwright Theresa Rebeck. Producers include Steven Spielberg, Tony Award-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron of the Oscar-winning ‘Chicago.’


That level of talent costs a lot of money. The pilot for ‘Smash’ cost more than $7 million, and subsequent episodes are running close to $4 million apiece, according to people with knowledge of the show who did not want to speak publicly on the subject.

‘Smash,’ which will occupy the 10 p.m. Monday time slot, has good buzz from critics. While critical acclaim certainly helps, that alone doesn’t guarantee success.

For a look at what NBC’s got riding on ‘Smash,’ please see the story in Friday’s Los Angeles Times.


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-- Joe Flint