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Why NBC is holding 'Smash' for midseason

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Smash Upfronts

NBC had some success launching freshman musical drama Smash in recent months. So why wait until midseason — 2013 — to bring back the show?

Jennifer Salke, president NBC Entertainment, gave EW.com the scoop. “New showrunner Josh Safran is coming in — he’s awesome,” she says. “And we wanted him to get a chance to own [it] and get in there and have an ownership stake in the show — not just put a gun to his head and [tell him], ‘You gotta get going!’ So we wanted him to be able to stand back and have a real creative discussion about what he wants the season to be and be a big part of that.”

Another factor, Salke says, is Smash will have fewer schedule disruptions airing after the first of the year.

“If it aired in the fall, it would have so many preemptions with the election and those things, you could never really run more than three or four episodes straight,” she says. “The midseason schedule will allow a clean run, which is important for a show like Smash, that’s very serialized, which has that core audience that gets frustrated if they don’t get to see the story from week to week.”

Another scheduling element that Salke did not mention, but might be an issue, is the show’s lead-in. NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt told reporters yesterday he was very happy pairing musicals The Voice and Smash on Mondays. In the fall, NBC will wisely use The Voice — the network’s biggest entertainment program — to launch its most promising new drama, Revolution. You always use your biggest hits to try and launch new shows. But by holding Smash until midseason, NBC might be able to pair Voice and Smash a second time.

Greenblatt told EW.com that fans can expect next season to have improved serialized storytelling now that Safran is on board.  “[Safran] has a real passion for this world and he’s a really smart and sophisticated writer,” he said. “He’s going to raise the bar for us. I do think we’re going to do a better job of arcing really interesting and complex serialized stories.” — Sandra Gonzalez contributed to this report

RELATED: NBC’s fall schedule revealed