EXCLUSIVE: Smash, which was just renewed for a second season, will return next fall without its creator/executive producer/showrunner Theresa Rebeck. I’ve learned that Rebeck is stepping down as showrunner of the musical drama after its maiden season. Details about her future involvement with Smash are still being worked out. Rebeck will keep her executive producer title and may write scripts but will not be involved in the day-to-day running of series, returning to her theater career. Word is NBC will bring in a new showrunner for Season 2. It is unclear how that would affect writing executive producer David Marshall Grant, who joined the series after the pilot.
While the pilot of Smash was universally praised, there have been some qualms about the creative direction of the series — chronicling the creation of a Marilyn Monroe Broadway musical — which became increasingly soapy. Additionally, Smash, which started off big and broad, sometimes meandered into niche territory by focusing too much on the insider Broadway stuff over the human drama of the two singers, played by Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee, battling it out for the role of their career. Rebeck, a playwright in addition to being a screenwriter, will have a continuing presence on Smash — the female lead on the show, Julia (Debra Messing), half of a successful Broadway writing team, was based on her.