Marilyn Monroe gets the musical treatment on ‘Smash’


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A star is born ... again.

Marilyn Monroe — with her plump lips, signature mole and vixen-like innocence — continues to be a source of intrigue and exploration. Film recently set its sights on the icon with the release of “My Week With Marilyn.” And soon viewers who tune in to “Smash” — a behind-the-scenes look at Broadway that NBC is hoping will help them inch back to its glory days — will see the blond bombshell become a source for a fictional musical on the show.

Though, if creator and executive producer Theresa Rebeck has her way, the musical might have been an adaptation of a Victorian novel or some production that involved swords and feathers, she joked Friday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena.


The idea came from Scott Wittman, an executive producer (one of many on the series, which also includes Steve Spielberg) and co-lyricist, who said it was important to start with source viewers were familiar with.

Rebeck echoed those sentiments: “The things that she represents … are so immediately accessible. “

The drama will focus on the production of bringing it to life. Katharine McPhee, a former contestant on “American Idol,” and theater actress Megan Hilty (“Wicked”) see their characters go head-to-head for the coveted role.

“I think the genius of making this idea into a series,” Hilty said of the show. “When you are a live performer, you’re giving so much of yourself. There’s so much at stake when you’re out exposing yourself to hundreds of people. It naturally sets the tone for high drama.”

The plan for the first season is to take “Marilyn” to an out-of-town tryout, Rebeck said. “The second season — if we’re lucky — would be ‘Marilyn’ comes to Broadway and how does ‘Marilyn’ fare in New York.”

As for rumors that it might later lead to bringing the musical-within-the-show to Broadway, Rebeck was quick to respond: “What we are aiming to do right now is write a great TV show. Whatever happens in the future, who knows. We could all die tomorrow.”

‘Smash,’ which also stars NBC alum Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston, premieres Feb. 6.


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Photo: The cast of ‘Smash.’ Credit: NBC