May 22, 2012 2:06pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Smash' Shakeup: Four Stars Axed From Second Season
Smash creator Theresa Rebeck isn't the only one departing NBC's Broadway drama.
Freshman-season regulars Raza Jaffrey and Jaime Cepero will not return for the second season of the musical series, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. In addition, series regular Brian d'Arcy James and recurring guest Will Chase won't be featured players in the second season, THR has learned.
Jaffrey played Karen's (Katharine McPhee) cheating fiancé on the series and was last seen getting the kiss-off from the newly minted Marilyn in this month's season finale. Cepero played one of the TV season's most hated characters, the scheming Ellis, who finally got his walking papers when Eileen (Anjelica Houston) fired his demanding butt in the last episode.
According to EW, which first reported news about Cepero and Jaffrey, neither actor will return for Smash's second season under new showrunner Josh Safran (Gossip Girl). Sources confirmed to THR that regular James and recurring guest Chase are in the same boat and will not have regular or recurring roles next season.
While James Jaffrey, Cepero and Chase will not return as either recurring or series regulars next season, there is the distinct possibility that they could appear in an episode or two to wrap up their respective storylines.
Sources told THR that the network passed on Chase's option to return. He played Michael Swift, aka Bombshell's Joe DiMaggio in the production at the center of the series. The actor, who is romantically linked with Smash lead Debra Messing, had a recurring role last season and returned in the finale to step in for the star who had eventually won the part of Joltin' Joe, much to the chagrin of Messing's Julia.
After an affair with Swift, Julia revealed in the last episode that she's pregnant, potentially with husband Frank's (James) child -- or Swift's.
With the focus more on music for Season 2, James won't have as central a story. Julia and Frank's entitled son, Leo (Emory Cohen), meanwhile, will continue to have a recurring role on the series.
Recent reports have indicated that the sophomore season of Smash will add three new regulars: a chorus member, working-class guy and optimistic gay kid from Brooklyn.
Which other characters would you like to see exit, stage left, on Smash?