Spokane 7 - Entertainment

Shift to TV not always kind to stage stars

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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