Plans to remake NBC’s Smash – the 2012 TV drama whose first season focused on the making of Bombshell, a fictitious stage musical about Marilyn – as a Broadway show were announced following a one-off performance of Bombshell back in 2015. Since then there have been occasional updates on the project, such as a Hollywood Reporter article from last year. And as NBC’s Robert Greenblatt confirms in the latest episode of Variety’s podcast, Stagecraft, those plans are still in the works – although it now appears that Bombshell will be re-incorporated into Smash, rather than as a stand-alone musical.
“Superfans and hate-watchers, take note: You may not have seen the last of Smash.
So says Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment … The 2012 series about New York theater people was a polarizing phenomenon among real-life New York theater people — ‘Smash may have invented the concept of hate-watching,’ Greenblatt jokes — but it’s still got a following. ‘Interestingly enough, I hear more about people loving Smash now than I ever did when it was on the air.’
Which is one of the reasons Greenblatt and the show’s team of creators and producers are exploring a future life for Smash beyond the Actors Fund concert staging of the original songs Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman wrote for Bombshell, the Broadway-show-within-the-show. “We’ve been thinking about different ways to think about a stage musical based on Bombshell or Smash,’ Greenblatt reveals. ‘That’s all I’ll say. There’s an incarnation which could sort of combine both. … You may not have seen the last of Smash yet. I think the next incarnation will be on stage.'”
After a hugely popular, one-off benefit performance in 2015, plans to bring Bombshell – the fictitious Marilyn musical from NBC’s Smash – to Broadway for real are now taking shape, as Greg Braxton reports for the L.A. Times.
“Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the award-winning producing team behind the Oscar-winning Chicago and NBC’s live versions of The Sound of Music and The Wiz, are joining forces with NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Green late for the project, with an opening date yet to be determined. Greenblatt has extensive Broadway experience, producing the musicals Something Rotten! and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.
Created by Theresa Rebeck, who also served as showrunner, Smash premiered in 2012 to critical praise. The Times’ Mary McNamara called it a ‘triumph.’ But after a strong start, the series ran into rough creative waters, including exaggerated side plots and strange song breaks. Ratings fell. When Smash returned for its second season, Rebeck and a number of characters were gone. But Smash still was canceled.
The appetite for the show has never died, Zadan said, and has found new life on Netflix. ‘It’s more popular now than when it was on the air.'”
Norman Brokaw, former head of the William Morris Agency, died on October 29, aged 89. His uncle, Johnny Hyde, co-founded the legendary Hollywood talent hub, and gave the teenager his first job in the mailroom in 1943.
By 1949, Hyde was infatuated with Marilyn Monroe, who at 23 was barely a year older than his nephew. During their two-year relationship, Hyde secured her important roles in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve, and a long-term contract at Twentieth Century Fox.
A copy of Marilyn’s original William Morris Agency contract, recently sold at Julien’s Auctions for $7,680, included a covering letter signed by Norman Brokaw. In an article for Huffington Post, Brokaw’s son Joel recalled, “There were lots of wonderful memories he shared with me about his family, his uncle Johnny Hyde and Marilyn Monroe (including the time that he got screamed at when he was about to sit on their sofa and crush the plaster model of her new chin.)” If true, this story may add some credence to the longstanding rumour that Marilyn underwent minor cosmetic surgery at this time.
When Hyde died of a heart attack in December 1950, Marilyn was bereft. According to J. Randy Taraborrelli, author of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, Brokaw accompanied Marilyn to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, but his uncle passed away before their arrival. (However, there are several competing versions of this story.)
Marilyn’s next serious romance, with baseball hero Joe DiMaggio, began in 1952. According to Taraborrelli, the couple first met two years earlier, when Brokaw arranged for her to play a walk-on part in Lights, Camera, Action, an NBC variety show. (If this was the case, the footage may not have survived as it is not documented elsewhere. But Marilyn did film a TV commercial during the same period, so she wasn’t entirely unaccustomed to the small screen.) After filming, she and Brokaw dined at the famous Brown Derby restaurant, where I Love Lucy star William Frawley asked if he could introduce her to his pal, Joe DiMaggio.
As they left the restaurant, Norman and Marilyn approached the ‘bashful’ sportsman. At the time, she was one of the few Americans who had never heard of DiMaggio. The next morning, Brokaw said, Joe called him and asked for Marilyn’s phone number – although whether he had the courage to follow through is unknown.
After a much-publicised courtship, Joe and Marilyn tied the knot in 1954. Taraborrelli writes that early on in their brief, tempestuous marriage, a worried Joe called Brokaw, and they met for drinks at the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel. When Joe explained that he wanted Marilyn to stop making films, Norman replied, “She’s not going to give up her career any more than you would have before you were ready to do it.” (Joe later sought advice from other Hollywood friends, including Sidney Skolsky, and would remain close to Marilyn long after their divorce.)
By then, Brokaw was building up the Morris Agency’s new TV division. He persuaded stars like Barbara Stanwyck to try the new medium, and negotiated a pioneering deal for Kim Novak, granting her a share in the profits of her films. In 1965, he secured a lead role for Bill Cosby in I Spy, making him the first black actor to achieve star status on a major television network.
During the 1970s, Brokaw added high-profile names in sport and politics to the agency’s roster. His career continued into the new century, and he was also a philanthropist, serving on the board of directors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (formerly Cedars of Lebanon), and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Norman Brokaw died at his home in Beverly Hills. He is survived by his wife, Marguerite Longley, six children and four grandchildren.
After a troubled second season, Smash will not be renewed by NBC, it has been confirmed. The final episode will air on May 26. Katharine McPhee told the Hollywood Reporter:
“Sure, I wish that it could have five more seasons, but we had two great seasons and all I can say is I loved every moment of it. I loved getting to the set, I loved the people, I loved my crew. We did amazing things on the show in two years.
With this business, you can never predict what people are going to like or love or hate. All I know is that when the show started and people were so excited about the pilot, I was excited to finally be a part of something that could showcase me. Everyone has perceptions about what you’re capable of and what you can do and this show was a huge gift.”
Today’s San Diego Reader, andThe Mirrorfeature vintage news reports on Marilyn’s death, while NBC has revealed a TV broadcast on the tragedy. Timehas posted a variety of articles about Marilyn from their archives – some written during her lifetime.
As the Los Angeles Timescomments today, 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of Marilyn’s death. Of course, this has not gone unnoticed by film-makers, or the producers of the upcoming NBC series, Smash:
“In February, Monroe comes to the small screen via the NBC scripted series Smash, in which theater producers mount a fictional Broadway show about the bombshell’s life. The real-life Broadway actress Megan Hilty and American Idol star-cum-recording artist Katharine McPhee, putting her own spin on ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President,’ each vie to play her.
As if that weren’t enough, the series could spawn an actual Broadway musical, with creators developing lyrics and music with an eye toward putting it all on a stage.
‘You can actually squint and see a real Marilyn musical,’ said Craig Zadan, an executive producer on Smash and a Broadway producer of note in his own right. ‘There are already a bunch of new songs, and one of the possibilities if the show becomes a hit is to regroup and try to put it on Broadway.’ (A 1983 Broadway effort, Marilyn: An American Fable, flopped, though that was heavily fictionalized and largely panned.)”