Although “Smash” has undergone a creative overhaul with new executive producer Josh Safran replacing series creator and Season 1 showrunner Theresa Rebeck, Safran promises it will still be “the same ‘Smash’” that viewers of the NBC series have come to love when it returns for a second season on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 9/8c.
Appearing at a TCA session for the show in Pasadena, California on Sunday, Safran told reporters he wanted to keep the alterations minimal while still remaining true to the show’s essence. “It’s not changed that much,” Safran said. “The stuff from last year that you loved is still there, and the stuff from last year that maybe some people thought…went a little off on tangents we looked at and we sort of tried to find a way to circle back together.”
Executive producer Neil Meron said he, Safran and co-executive producer Craig Zadan read audience and critical complaints about Season 1, and they hope to reinvigorate the series by addressing many of those concerns in Season 2 — down to the tiniest of details. Julia’s (Debra Messing) pesky scarves? They’re dismissed during the premiere in a meta moment between her and Tom (Christian Borle).
“There were certain storylines that were pinpointed that you think they could be a little more impactful,” Meron said.
Early Look: Watch the First Hour of the “Smash” Season 2 Premiere:
“Shows need time to find themselves,” he added. “Especially a show like ‘Smash,’ which has so many moving parts. It’s still in the process of finding itself.”
Among some of the larger shifts coming in Season 2 are the additions of several new younger cast members — actors Andy Mientus and Jeremy Jordan, who play a music writing duo that become involved with Karen (Katharine McPhee) — and more musical performances per episode, thanks to a secondary musical called “Hit List” which will be running a concurrent storyline alongside “Bombshell.”
The diversity of the performances this season will reflect the real world of the Great White Way. “It really is a bigger world view, and I wanted to find a way to represent that,” Safran said.
Season 2 will also see several new guest stars, including Liza Minnelli, Sean Hayes and Jennifer Hudson, who will appear in the first four episodes of Season 2. “She was phenomenal,” star Megan Hilty recalled of working with the Academy Award winner. “It was incredible to get to hear her up close. She is a force. Her voice is unlike any others. She brought such a great energy to set, too.”
As for the lingering question about whether the musical within the show, “Bombshell,” will make its way to Broadway, Meron claimed that they are constantly discussing that opportunity, but but nothing solid has formed just yet. “It’s a really great question,” Meron said. “We stand on the set and watch the ‘Bombshell’ moments and say, ‘Wouldn’t this show be great on Broadway?’ And that’s where we left it. The first priority is to make the show. And that’s what we’re still focusing on. It would be great, but whether it happens in the future? All of us think yes, but have we done anything? No.”
The two-hour Season 2 premiere of “Smash” airs on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 9/8c on NBC.