‘Gossip Girl’ showrunner Josh Safran will take over as executive producer of NBC’s ‘Smash’ next season.
He replaces creator Theresa Rebeck, a Broadway vet who was instrumental in the series’ success on NBC. Rebeck’s departure was confirmed just hours after NBC announced it was renewing the musical drama for a second season. Though she won’t be involved in the day-to-day operations of the series, she will remain on board as an executive producer and possibly write episodes.
Safran’s spent the last five years in various capacities with The CW’s teen soap Gossip Girl. Starting out as a consulting producer, the exec went on to write multiple episodes before being promoted to co-executive producer during the series’ third season in 2009. He was later promoted to executive producer during the fourth season in 2010. The various exploits of the rich and scandalous of the Upper East Side has been a cornerstone of The CW since the network’s launch. In recent years, the series has seen a steep decline in ratings — averaging a low 1.20 million viewers this season, down from the 1.66 million the series averaged at over 21 episodes last year (season 5 has 24 episodes vs. season 4’s 22).
Both series are experiencing criticism from fans regarding story direction. TVSource Senior TV Editor Karen Riel recently criticized Smash for its “spectacularly one-dimensional and unlikable characters.” Riel also criticized its lack of continuity with Julia/Michael’s affair storyline. “The whole thing was so absurd; I don’t think anyone watching even mustered an eyebrow raise. For weeks, Michael essentially stalked Julia and seemed utterly obsessed with her–calling her relentlessly, showing up at her home unannounced, etc. When Julia finally broke off their affair, Michael was completely heartbroken and devastated… until the next episode, when he calmly told Julia he would never jeopardize what he has with his wife and child for their affair. Huh? Continuity department, anyone?”
Smash’s season finale will air May 15.