May 17, 2013 in Features, Seven

Shift to TV not always kind to stage stars

Mark Kennedy Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Andrew Rannells, center, performed in “The Book of Mormon” at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York before leaving for the short-lived NBC series “The New Normal.”
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – The slow, lingering demise of “Smash” has felt more like a punch to the gut to the folks on Broadway.

The TV series about the making of a big stage musical came with a flurry of attention and some big names: Steven Spielberg, Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston. It was going to be a valentine to Broadway.

Sometimes, though, love letters get sent back.

After a first season with a healthy-sized audience averaging 7.7 million viewers, it returned this year to such dismal ratings it was banished to Saturday night. It won’t be back for a third season.

But while TV was finally focusing on Broadway, plenty of stage veterans jumped to TV during the two-year run of “Smash.” Some flamed out, some are holding on and some still hope:

• Three-time Tony-winner Sutton Foster’s show about ballerinas, “Bunheads,” has been picked up for a second season on ABC Family.

• Two-time Tony-winner Donna Murphy’s show “Made in Jersey” was pulled after two episodes.

• Tony-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In the Heights”) and Steven Pasquale (“Reasons to Be Pretty”) lasted just two episodes in the NBC midseason drama “Do No Harm.”

• “The Book of Mormon” star Josh Gad found no long-term job as the goofball son of the incumbent U.S. president in the NBC midseason comedy “1600 Penn.”

• Andrew Rannells, Gad’s former Broadway co-star in “The Book of Mormon,” didn’t have any better luck in the NBC show “The New Normal,” which was yanked off the air.

• CBS’ “Partners,” starring New York theater mainstay Michael Urie, disappeared after just six episodes.

• “Venus in Fur” lead Hugh Dancy and Broadway leading man Raul Esparza are both on NBC’s “Hannibal,” which is on life support.

• Tony-nominated Norm Lewis (“The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess”) appeared as a senator in ABC’s “Scandal” with Kerry Washington, which has been picked up for another season.

• J.J. Abrams’ post-apocalyptic NBC show “Revolution,” which recently emerged from a four-month break and was renewed, stars Broadway veteran Giancarlo Esposito.

• Broadway star Cristin Milioti (“Once”) made a key appearance on the eighth season finale of CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother” – she was revealed as the mother in the title.

• Tony-winner Laura Benanti’s starring role opposite Matthew Perry in NBC’s “Go On” ended without renewal. But Benanti is also enjoying a story arc on USA’s “Royal Pains,” beginning in June.

• “Glee,” renewed for six seasons on Fox, has been a happy home for stage veterans Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele as well as guest stars Cheyenne Jackson, Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth and Darren Criss.

• “The Good Wife” has been a refuge for thespians hoping for a juicy guest spot, including Craig Bierko, Boyd Gaines, Jessica Hecht, Santino Fontana, Elizabeth Marvel, Denis O’Hare, Martha Plimpton, Karen Olivo, Alan Cumming and Nathan Lane.

• Tracie Thoms is set to star as the editor of a newspaper in ABC’s sexy soap pilot “Gothica.”

• Tony-nominee Da’Vine Joy Randolph, one of the best parts of the Broadway musical “Ghost,” will play Ellie Kemper’s best friend in the NBC pilot “Brenda Forever.”

• Tony-winner Mercedes Ruehl (“Lost in Yonkers”) will join stage veteran Carla Gugino in the ABC legal drama pilot “Doubt.”

• Matthew Wilkas, who recently appeared in the Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark,” will play a picky guy looking for love on NBC’s “Undateable.”

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