Jason Grote Got T.V. Gig through Meeting at Denver's New Play Summit

February 7, 2012

Jason Grote
This content is sourced from Westword Denver.

​There's huge buzz around Smash, a television show premiering at 9 p.m. tonight on NBC. A procedural drama depicting the creation of a musical about Marilyn Monroe, Smash features such big-name acting talent as Anjelica Huston and Debra Messing, as well as American Idol Katherine McPhee; Uma Thurman appears in a future storyline. Steven Spielberg is among the producers, and the songs are by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, composers for Hairspray.

The names of a couple of the writers for Smash will be familiar to Denver audiences: Theresa Rebeck and Jason Grote met through readings at the New Play Summit at the Denver Center Theater Company; her Our House and his 1001 both received full productions in 2008. "I remember looking at Theresa in the audience during 1001, and hoping she'd laugh at the jokes," says Grote. "She did."

A couple of years later, Grote's financial situation was dire. His son, Reid, was born in the summer of 2010 -- soon after Grote lost his teaching job at Rutgers. The family lived on his unemployment and his wife's freelance work; they fought the State of New York for healthcare for Reid, and ended up paying for care and vaccinations out of pocket. The bureaucracy was stifling, says Grote, and "it was terrible to see what some people had to go through."

Grote reached out to Rebeck, who was then working on a prior incarnation of Smash with Showtime -- she is the lead writer -- and with her help and advice he was brought into the project last May.

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