‘Gossip Girl’s’ Josh Safran to take on ‘Smash’

NBC sets new showrunner for tuner drama's second season

In selecting a new showrunner for “Smash,” producers faced the kind of Ivy-vs.-Karen choice that has been central to the storyline of the NBC tuner-drama in its first season: whether to cast an experienced hand or a rising star in the crucial leading role.

It appears the Peacock is opting for rising star. The net and Universal TV are in final talks to bring “Gossip Girl” exec producer Josh Safran on board to replace Theresa Rebeck as showrunner and exec producer. Rebeck, who is also an active playwright, created the elaborate series for U TV and DreamWorks TV that has been the centerpiece of the Peacock’s effort to turn around its primetime fortunes this year.

Rebeck let it be known to the studio that she was ready to move on last month, after the show secured its sophomore year renewal. While the show has drawn raves for its innovative use of music and choreography, there has been criticism that the storylines and character development have been weak.

NBC cast a wide net in considering candidates to replace Rebeck, including drama vets with long resumes and younger scribes who have worked on offbeat pay TV dramedies.

The selection of a “Gossip Girl” alum would indicate that producers are looking to amp up the suds factor next season.

Safran is a legit buff who knows the Gotham theater world well. He’s climbed the ranks on “Gossip Girl” since the 2007-08 season, and he’s also fielded several feature scripts including Universal’s remake of “Endless Love.”

He’s repped by UTA.

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