After 'Smash' crash, songwriters savor success
In thsi Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 photo, composer Marc Shaiman poses at his home recording studio in Los Angeles. Shaiman and partner Scott Wittman are nominated for an Emmy for their song, "Hang the Moon," from TV's "Smash." Their latest stage musical, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," is a hit on London's West End. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have strong opinions about the demise of "Smash," the highly anticipated but ultimately much-maligned musical TV series about the making of Broadway musicals.
But, to borrow from one of the duo's lyrics, they'd rather just smile and look back.
Not that there's been much time for reflection.
A month after the final "Smash" episode aired on NBC in late May, the Tony-winning Shaiman and Wittman ("Hairspray") added a new hit to their list of credits. They supplied songs to the stage adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved 1964 children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." The musical opened in London to such strong ticket demand that the show's run was extended by six months, to the end of May 2014.
Then Shaiman and Wittman received more good news: a creative Emmy nomination for one of their "Smash" songs, the ballad "Hang the Moon."
"(It's great) that Scott and I get to represent 'Smash' with this nomination, because it is now no longer," Shaiman said, adding, "(but) there were millions of people who really were enjoying the show, or, certainly, certain parts of the show."
"Hang the Moon" imagines a musical meeting of Marilyn Monroe with her estranged mother, who expresses regret over leaving her daughter alone so often during childhood.
"We knew that Marilyn's mom was a film cutter," Shaiman recalled. "So, we had this great concept where she said, 'If I could only re-edit our lives.'"
Sitting at a piano in his Hollywood Hills recording studio, Shaiman sang the opening verse:
"If our lives were a movie/I'd know what to do/I'd write every scene with my heart/An RKO picture that stars me and you/And this time I'd learn my part."
Shaiman said he grew to learn that "Smash" suffered from having too many cooks in the kitchen.
"And too many chefs all loved it," he continued, soon to be cut off by the ringing of a phone.
"That's them, calling, saying, 'Stop talking about us!'" Shaiman joked.
As for "Charlie," Wittman confirmed the musical is bound for Broadway, but its arrival will be delayed until director Sam Mendes completes the next James Bond movie.
FILE - In this June 8, 2003 file photo, Marc Shaiman, left, and Scott Wittman pose with their Tony awards for Best Original Score for "Hairspray" during the 57th Annual Tony Awards at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Their song, "Hang the Moon," from TV's "Smash," is nominated for an Emmy. The 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards are Sunday, Sept. 22. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
The biggest challenge for the songwriters was meeting the expectations of fans who worship previous takes on the novel, such as the 1971 and 2005 film adaptations.