Jack Davenport as Derek Wills and Katharine McPhee as Karen Cartwright. (Patrick Harbron / NBC )
NBC's "Smash" which mixed music, colorful production numbers and drama while telling the behind-the-scenes story of the creation of a Broadway-bound musical about Marilyn Monroe, was one of last season's most high-profile series.
But though it performed reasonably well, "Smash" fell far short of being a true smash with audiences or critics, and the journey to its second act in its upcoming season has been anything but smooth.
Creator and executive producer Theresa Rebeck was removed as showrunner midway through the first season amid criticisms of the series' soapy storylines.
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And before the season ended, it was announced that several series regulars would not be coming back for the second season. The characters played by Raza Jaffrey, Jaime Cepero, Brian D'Arcy James and Will Chase, were among the most heavily criticized.
Jaffrey played Dev, the fiance of actress Karen (Katherine McPhee), who slept with Ivy (Megan Hilty), Karen's chief rival, near the end of the season. Cepero was Ellis, an assistant who was also scheming and plotting.
James portrayed Frank, the put-upon husband of songwriter Julia (Debra Messing), while Chase played Michael, the married leading man who had a brief but obsessive affair with Julia.
Joshua Safran, who is now running the show as executive producer, said the show "hasn't changed all that much. Many of the elements that people loved about 'Smash' are still there. It's bigger, has more music, is younger."
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He added that the show would feature more original music, and be more diverse in showing the differing style of music on Broadway. "We will have a bigger worldview. We want to represent that."
Craig Zaden and Neil Meron, two other executive producers, said that "Smash" went through natural growing pains in its first season.
"When critics felt the show was going off-kilter, it reinforced the feelings that we had, and we thought, "Wouldn't it be great this season to fix those things?' said Zaden.
Meron added that Rebeck was also juggling other theater projects while working on "Smash," suggesting that the show was not "where her passion really lay."
Among the changes this season is the entrance of a Broadway diva played by Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls"), who appears in several episodes.
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