HITS Daily Double
"Smash is a music show first and a television show second... Creatively, [Pepsi is] letting me do the show I want to do, which is cool."
——Joel Gallen


Veteran Producer Readies
Primetime Live Music Show
It will be the first primetime live music performance show on a U.S. network since the halcyon days of Hullaballoo and Shindig back in the ’60s.

Smash, which will bow on the WB Wednesday, July 16, at 9 p.m., and run for six consecutive weeks, is being helmed by veteran music producer/director Joel Gallen, who won an Emmy for his work on America: A Tribute to Heroes. His credits, along with those of his company, Tenth Planet, include both the MTV Movie Awards and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony.

"Smash is a music show first and a television show second," says Gallen before lamenting the demise of his beloved Detroit Red Wings and the miserable start by his equally beloved Detroit Tigers.

The show’s sponsored by Pepsi, which has a similar franchise in several countries, including Australia and England. "They’ve been associated with music in their marketing since the days of Michael Jackson, going through Britney Spears, Shakira and Beyonce Knowles," says Gallen. "Creatively, they’re letting me do the show I want to do, which is cool."

The series will be taped a week before it airs on a giant Hollywood soundstage in front of an invited audience. Every installment will feature four acts, one each from the worlds of rock, pop, R&B and rap. The first three will be established "superstars" performing two songs apiece, one of which will be the act’s current "smash." The fourth, a "buzz" artist on the verge of breaking through, will perform one song.

"This is an opportunity for bands to show how good they are live," says Gallen. "There will be no lip-syncing or singing to tracks. The hope is, the four artists will come together at the end for some kind of finale…if they’re still talking to me."

Gallen promises a top-flight production, with a different guest host every week ("Either a WB personality or a young performer who loves music and has a summer movie coming out"), a few sidekicks with backstage and audience interviews and even some location pieces.

Gallen believes the WB’s demographic and extensive use of music in its programming make it the only network on which a concept like this one could work. "This is going to be a very artist-friendly show," he says. "I want to attract those performers who don’t ordinarily do TV."

Although primetime music TV has been a ratings bust in the past, Gallen is anxious to prove the pundits wrong. "At the end of the day, people like to be entertained," he says. "One of the things I’m going to focus on is the artists’ creativity as both comfortable and exciting live performers."

If it’s successful, Gallen says the WB could bring Smash back in January for a longer commitment or air it every summer, but he adds, it’s going to take industry support.

"We’re going to need cooperation from the record companies to do the show properly" says Gallen. "It’s no different than producing an MTV show."

The first taping is Wednesday, July 9; subsequent tapings will take place on Tuesdays, eight days prior to airing.