If Glee had a baby, it would be named . . .

. . . Smash.

One of the best bits of news to hit Broadway in years happened just last week, when NBC officially ordered episodes of the new pilot entitled, Smash.  What’s it about?

It’s about the making of a Broadway musical.

As one of our industry vets once told me, hits beget hits, and the success of Glee has inspired competing networks to jump on the Broadway bandwagon.  And that’s great news for all of us, as the words Broadway, Broadway, Broadway are repeated over, over and over, in front of millions, millions and millions of viewers every week.

And that’s even if the show sucks.

But from what I hear, it doesn’t.

I had a spy at NBC’s “upfronts” today (which is when the network previews its new shows for advertisers).  My guy reports that the room was so quiet during the Smash preview, you could hear a false eyelash drop . . . and that the room erupted in cheers when the trailer came to and end.

But you be the judge . . . the trailer is below.

Oh, and you know what else is cool?  Like some talent-trade deal, NBC enlisted actual Broadway talent to play Broadway peeps, as if to say thank you for us hiring so much Hollywood talent over the last few years (it doesn’t hurt that Robert Greenblatt, the President of Programming at NBC is a Broadway lover, having produced 9 to 5 just a few years ago).  In the trailer you’ll see Megan Hilty, Christian Borle, Brian d’Arcy James, and a few more.  (Do you think Hollywood actors are b*tching about Broadway folks getting the good roles?)

Oh, and the show headlines Anjelica Huston, Debra Messing and a guy with a really cool name . . . Jack Davenport.

In case you needed another reason to tune in, the Exec. Producer is Steven Spielberg.

But you didn’t need another reason, did you?  This show had you at hello, Dolly.  You’re all planning your viewing parties already aren’t you?

I know we are.  In fact . . . maybe we’ll do a premiere party!  (unfortunately, we’ll all have to wait a bit because Smash is a mid-season replacement.)

It deserves a party.  Because it could be our best bet at a new audience in years.

In fact, Smash not a Glee baby.  This is one heck of a big mama.




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This Broadway Pro is a loser.

A big loser.

Like the BIGGEST loser.

Hugh Hysell, who owns one of Broadway’s biggest marketing firms, is making a bid to be on NBC’s The Biggest Loser.  (You might remember Hugh from Vol. 2 of our 10 Qs for a Broadway Pro.)

I feel sorry for the other folks trying to get on the show.  Hugh is a Marketing Director, for calorie’s sake. Of course he’s going to come up with a fun and theatrical way to demonstrate why he’d be the best contestant.

And sure enough . . . he did.

Hugh’s video application is below . . . and it’s already been written up on a bunch of blogs and featured in the NY Post.

(My favorite part about the video?  Notice how Hugh chose to shoot a portion of the vid on 52nd St . . . right in front of The August Wilson Theatre and Jersey Boys.  Yep, you guessed it . . . Hugh does the marketing for Jersey Boys.  Now that’s a Marketing Director.  Even when he’s stumping for himself, he’s got his clients on his mind.)

Go get ’em Hugh!

What we can learn from NBC’s mistakes.

You gotta give ’em some kind of credit, right?

Moving Jay Leno to 10 PM was an unprecedented move that had a lot of people wondering what in the ratings all those executives at NBC were smoking.

But it could’ve worked . . . and if it did, some executive would be smoking a big fat cigar as everyone called him or her brilliant.

It was a big move, a-shake-the-very-foundation-of-everything-we-know-to-be-true move.

And it failed.

But I gotta give someone the credit for giving it a shot.

It reminds me of this big baseball game I had in high school.  One of my good buddies was standing on third base.  We were down by one.  There was some sort of ruckus going on in the infield.  Coaches were yelling.  Players were yelling. But the ball was still live.  So, my sly-and-super-fast friend tried to steal home while everyone was distracted.

And it almost worked.

When he got called out at a tight play at home, my head coach looked at him and said, “What the *#&$ were you thinking?”

It was the Assistant Coach who leaned in and said, “He had a lead.  And if he would have made it, he would have been a hero.”

There are no heroes at NBC this week, and I imagine that someone is gonna lose their job, and, honestly, someone should.

But not because of the current fiasco.

This problem started years ago . . .

NBC’s mistake was made back in 2004.

In an effort to avoid a sequel to the late-night-war of the 90s, and in an effort to keep Conan happy, they put a little pressure on Jay to squeeze him out in 2009.  Obviously, Jay wasn’t ready to go, despite whatever he was saying at the time (spin, spin, spin).

It was that mistake that started the snowball rolling down the hill.  Come 2009, and in an effort to make Jay happy, they give him a 10 PM spot, which bombs.  He’s upset and now the affiliates are upset, so they come up with yet another unprecedented move and give him a 30-minute show?  And now O’Brien’s upset, oh and Fallon too because he just got bumped.  But wait, O’Brien doesn’t even want the 12:05 spot, so maybe they’ll lose him all together . . . and suddenly the very late-night-war that NBC was trying to avoid has erupted again, and made the earlier one look like a couple of kids playing Cowboys and Indians.

One of the most challenging things a Producer must learn to do is manage personalities, especially when dealing with stars.  If you don’t understand what they want, and don’t find a way to give them what they want (or make them feel good even when you can’t give them what they want), then you’ll lose the battle and the war . . . and most likely one of the key players in your line-up.

I don’t even think my Assistant Coach would have liked how this one played out.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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