NBC’s high-priced series gamble, "Smash," debuts on the network tonight, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012.
"The pilot for ‘Smash’ cost more than $7 million to make, and subsequent episodes are running close to $4 million apiece, according to people with knowledge of the show who did not want to speak publicly on the subject," writes Joe Flint in the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town blog. Flint adds: " ‘Smash’ is a passion project for NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, who took the top programming job at the network a little over a year ago."
Flint also notes the show’s pedigree: " ‘Smash’ has an all-star lineup in front of and behind the camera. It stars Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston and Katharine McPhee and was created by playwright Theresa Rebeck. Producers include Steven Spielberg, Tony Award-winning composer Marc Shaiman, and Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, producers of the Oscar-winning ‘Chicago.’ "
On the marketing side, Bill Carter, in an article in The New York Times writes, "Estimated expenditures for outside media on ‘Smash’ have reached as high as $25 million. That includes things like billboards, print ads, taxicab spots and the lavish, laminated, 40-page Broadway-style program book that NBC sent to the press."
Flint writes in his piece, "There has been speculation in industry circles that the marketing campaign has topped $20 million, but Len Fogge, NBC’s marketing chief, put the cost at less than $10 million."
As Carter notes, whatever that number is, "It does not include the value of all the promotional mentions that have appeared elsewhere — between shows, in the middle of shows, on the bottom of the screen during shows — on NBC and its sister channels (USA, Bravo, MSNBC, CNBC, etc.) over the last month.
"Executives at competing networks said the total promotional cost of ‘Smash’ could most likely be a record, though one noted that Fox spent extravagantly this past summer to build up its new singing competition, ‘The X Factor.’ That resulted in a show that achieved much-better-than-average ratings, but which was considered a disappointment to some — including apparently Fox and the show’s executive producer, Simon Cowell, who decided last week to fire a majority of the cast."