NBC is banking on musical Mondays this fall, reserving the 8 to 10 p.m. block for competitions and the 10 p.m. hour for "The Playboy Club." The new Broadway-themed "Smash" will take over the 10 p.m. slot at mid-season.
Music will have a significant role in at least two of NBC's new dramas, "Smash," the story of a team working on a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, and "The Playboy Club," set in the early '60s in Chicago. Laura Benanti, who won a Tony for "Gypsy," is likely to be singing a song from the period in each episode of "Playboy" and musical performances will be a regular occurrence, according to insiders familiar with the show. The pilot script has actors-singers portraying Ike and Tina Turner; a jazz combo is also in the pilot.
Mondays, beginning in September, will start with the a capella competition show "The Sing-Off." The show, which has featured Nicole Scherzinger, Ben Folds and Sean Stockman as judges, has aired the last two seasons between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Scherzinger is not expected to return as a judge, having been cast as a host on Fox's singing show "The X Factor," which is scheduled for a fall launch.
"The Voice," which has had only three episodes air, will take over the 8-10 slot once a winner is declared in "The Sing-Off."
"Smash," based on an idea from Steven Spielberg, focuses on a songwriting duo portrayed by Tony nominee Christian Borle and Debra Messing. "American Idol" runner-up Katharine McPhee will play a young inexperienced actress from the Midwest competing with a stage veteran portrayed by Megan Hilty, whose Broadway credits include "9 to 5: The Musical." Anjelica Huston and Jack Davenport are also in the cast.
Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman ("Hairspray," "Catch Me If You Can") will write original songs for the show that counts Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the team behind the Oscar-winner "Chicago" and "Hairspray," among its executive producers. Tony winner Michael Mayer ("Spring Awakening," "American Idiot") directed the pilot.
"The Playboy Club" positions bunnies within a world of mobsters, politicians and entertainers. The show will star Eddie Cibrian, Amber Heard, David Krumholtz, Jenna Dewan Tatum and Wes Ramsey. Chad Hodge ("Tru Calling") wrote the pilot, which was directed by Alan Taylor ("Mad Men," "The Sopranos").