STAGE TO SCREENS: Joshua Safran, the New Storyteller of "Smash," Talks About Season Two

By Kenneth Jones
21 Jan 2013


Anjelica Huston as producer Eileen Rand.
photo by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

In the Broadway world of the second season, is Bombshell in competition with three or four other shows?
JS: It doesn't really happen like that. They hit a snag, I'd say, on the road to Broadway in the premiere, which you'll see, and that sort of sets everything up for the rest of the season, but the other shows aren't necessarily competition, so much as a widening out of our "Broadway" basically. Some shows are in competition, and others aren't. Like, in the premiere, you see a number from a show that Jennifer Hudson is in called Beautiful, which was last season's Tony-winning Best Musical, but you'll spend time there.

How did you help prepare your writers' room for Season Two?
JS: This season, [in preparation] we talked about "All That Jazz," we talked about "Carousel." I held a screening in the first day for the writers of both those films. We got an incredible print from Fox and "Carousel" because it's really hard to find an incredible print, and that was really beautiful. We also screened "Show Business," the documentary about the race to the Tonys and all the shows that were a part of it, and that sort of formed this line for the season — those three things together.

When you're working from your season outline, is there room along the way, episode to episode, for you to keep discovering stuff, to veer off and surprise yourself as writers?
JS: Oh, absolutely. You go down an alleyway that you weren't expecting that might take you someplace else, but the spine always stays the same: that's what you have to do in a serialized show, otherwise you do end up going down tangents that end up eventually hurting the characters. It's pretty locked and solid, but I definitely think they'll surprise me. There was an episode a little bit ago, where we did the whole thing in the writer's room, there was an outline, there was a script, everybody had read it, and we were just talking, myself and the writer one day. We were like, "There was something missing," so we invented an entire character that was not in it that is now fully in it. And you would never believe it if I told you that character didn't exist until like two days before we went into production! Things like that — but it didn't change the story. This world has so many amazing characters in it — whether it's publicists, orchestrators. Suddenly, you're like, "Oh, wait a minute. We should really see an orchestrator because we never met one before." This is the time to do it.

(Kenneth Jones is managing editor of He penned The Smash Report,'s weekly recap with commentary of the first season of "Smash." Here's the column about the season finale from last spring.  Follow him on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.)

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Katharine McPhee and Jeremy Jordan
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