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SPOTLIGHT: Sweeping Culture Daily

5 Ways to Tank a Television Show

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By Craig Hubert | Yesterday, Buzzfeed published an exhaustive takedown of NBC’s “Smash,” their oft-ridiculed musical-drama starring Katherine McPhee, interviewing a ton of behind-the-scenes people, speaking anonymously, of course, on what went wrong during the show’s disastrous first season. The verdict? Theresa Rebeck, the former showrunner, was terrible. From the article, which doesn’t paint a very nice portrait of Rebeck, it seems as if she went to great lengths to make the show fail and get fired, alienating everybody else around her in the process. Future showrunners, take note: we’ve combed the article thoroughly and, as a service, have picked out the five quick and easy ways to tank a television show in one season.

1.) Run the show like a dictatorship

“A source who worked on Season 1 of Smash said, “Very quickly it just turned into kind of like — a kingdom or something. A dictatorship.””

2.) Ignore all the writers on the show

“After a short time with her staff, Rebeck decided she wasn’t interested in having a writers’ room; at most, she wanted writers to do a first draft that she would then rewrite herself.”

3.) Become personally invested in a character

“The writer had such a strong identification with that character that she couldn’t actually write well for her, or allow interesting stories to develop. The writers were trying to push into more interesting territory for that character, and Theresa blocked that creatively.”

4.) Scream. A lot.

“She was prone to screaming,” said one person. “She would crow about her fights. She sees herself as a victim. It is common for a showrunner to feel victimized — she’s not the first. She would retell a lot of the fights, and it was a little tricky to know who was to blame.”

5.) Cause so much trouble that your bosses plan your Shakespearean demise

“From everything I heard, it was like the assassination in ’Julius Caesar’ — silence from the conspirators, then a sudden firing,” said a source. “I don’t think it was handled with much kindness or grace.””

Image: Theresa Rebeck/Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

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