Along with creator Theresa Rebeck, four season regulars are exiting from "Smash" when it returns from Season 2. Based, however, on the strengths of the series so far, it should only improve the show.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Raza Jaffrey, who played the philandering fiance of Karen (Katharine McPhee), got the ax, along with Jaime Cepero, who played producer's assistant Ellis. Of the two characters, neither was particularly likable and are unlikely to be missed.
The only scene where Jaffrey showed the slightest chemistry with McPhee's Karen was a dance dream sequence, where he wooed her in a restaurant, Bollywood style. Aside from that, he seemed merely a plot device: a sounding board for Karen to express her true views about the behind-the-scenes drama resulting from getting a musical off the ground.
Cepero, whose character was fired by Anjelica Huston's Eileen in the season finale, had spent the season eavesdropping and scheming in order to try to secure the lead spot for his bestie, Ivy (Megan Hilty). Goodbye, good riddance.
Also due to be eliminated, or at least downplayed, is the love triangle between the show lyricist, Julia (Debra Messing), her husband Frank (Brian d'Arcy James), and the musical's male lead, Michael (Will Chase). According to The Hollywood Reporter, neither James nor Chase will be featured players in Season 2, although they may appear in an episode or two to wrap up their story lines.
This seems to indicate that poor Julia, who discovered she was pregnant at the end of the season, will be virtually alone to cope with not only her pregnancy but also a somewhat rebellious son and a fledgling musical, whose backstage drama is equivalent to a high school full of cliques. Perhaps son Leo (Emory Cohen) will surprise his mother by stepping up to help. If not, look forward to more scenes between Julia and writing partner Tom (Christian Borle), who had been her emotional rock throughout Season 1.
The love triangle story line had always been less intriguing than the ups and downs of frenemies Karen and Ivy, who met while competing to play the lead of Marilyn Monroe in the then-unnamed musical. As the season progressed, and both were sidelined to make way for a big-name Hollywood starlet, played by Uma Thurman, the two competitors forged an uneasy truce. That, of course, came crashing down when the starlet, discouraged by a poor opening weekend, abandoned the show, and the director handed the role to Karen.
New showrunner Josh Safran (previously known for "Gossip Girl") will reportedly bring on three new characters: a chorus member, working-class guy and optimistic gay kid from Brooklyn. It remains to be seen what part they will play in the series, but with the focus turning more towards the music, they will probably augment the backstage drama.
Considering that the strength of this show has been, from the start, the musical numbers and the Ivy-or-Karen storyline, it sounds like Season 2 is off to a good start.
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