'Smash' Producers 'Disappointed' by Viewership, Stars Urge Fans to Rally
With NBC's struggling musical drama moving to Saturdays, executive producer Neil Meron says, "The future is still up in the air."
For at least one night, Saturday brought good news to the cast and crew of Smash.
The NBC musical drama won the GLAAD award for outstanding television drama, earning the prize in a hotel that, quite appropriately, overlooked Broadway. It was a brief respite from the show's recent struggles; facing a ratings decline in its sophomore season, Smash last week was moved by the network from its plum Tuesday night time slot to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, beginning April 6.
"The future is still up in the air. We’re very disappointed that not many more people are watching it because we think it’s a very ambitious show. We think that people should watch it," executive producer Neil Meron told The Hollywood Reporter at the GLAAD ceremony. "It’s ambitious, it’s musical, it really is a terrific show and we just want to get more word out."
When it premiered in February, Smash averaged a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 4.5 million viewers, and has recently fallen to a 0.9 and under three million viewers. As for why the show has fallen so far, Meron would only speculate that the subject matter -- the inner-workings of a musical theater show -- didn't carry the widest appeal.
"That’s really hard to say because we took on something where we were looking at a niche part of the entertainment business," the producer, who also ran this year's Oscars and the 2002 film version of Chicago, said. "So who really knows what the answer to that is?"
The show has taken some harsh criticism online, from both bloggers and critics, while also earning a defense from passionate viewers. The discussion is something that has not escaped star Christian Borle.
"I'm not on Smash every day of my life, so I'm kind of enjoying every minute of it," he said with a smirk. "I love that people are passionate about it. I have my own opinions about it, as well, so it's a great national discussion. I'm biased, I love it. It's been a great two-year run for me. There's so much to be proud of. But it's fun to hear what people have to say about it."
Borle added that he was "really really excited" that NBC was going to air all 17 episodes of the second season. "When I heard that, I was blissful," he added.
Krysta Rodriguez, who spent years on actual Broadway shows, was just enthused that so many more people got to see her work on television than did when she was on stage. As for the future of the show, she encouraged fans to stick with it.
"We are happy with the show that we created, and we hope that people will continue to watch it and we think that they will," she said. "We’re trying to make Saturday the new party night."