This is set in the future, sometimes in 2018.
I don't own SMASH
London was still windy and cold at this time of year. Derek Wills left his apartment and took a cab to the theatre. His car was parked somewhere in Mayfair, right where he left it the day before when he realised he couldn't possibly drive himself home in the state of inebriation he was in.
He had been drinking a lot lately, too much for his own good. He was getting older and didn't hold his liquor the way he used to. That didn't stop him anyway. Anything was better than going back sober to an empty house in a lifeless posh neighbourhood.
Work was good though. He was glad his Hollywood years were behind him and even happier that he left behind his flourishing Broadway career. 'Bombshell' had been the last straw.
Working with Tom had proven impossible in the end. The guy was definitely a nightmare. Behind his gentle demeanour was lurking a devilish persona, stuck on rehashing events from the past. Unable to move forward, he declined repeatedly Derek's attempts to mend their relation for the good of their common work.
Then, Julia Houston had a total meltdown. She dumped her husband and Michael Swift. After her divorce, she quit the business altogether and left New York with her baby. Her midlife crisis lead her to buying a small boutique in Nantucket, Wine and Roses. Last time he heard of her, she was selling second hand furniture and refurbishing houses for the well-off. Good for her. Too bad Broadway lost a talented librettist in the process and Levitt his soul mate.
Eileen married her bartender and they had their five minutes of bliss. She was back to co-producing inept plays with her ex-husband and had reclaimed her previous status as a Broadway producer icon. She wasn't cut for the job though. When they worked together on Marilyn, she constantly undermined his authority, doggedly destroying his work. She didn't know better, he pondered, she thought she was an artist, and probably, she was, in her own way. She was definitely not a producer, Jerry Rand was always the producer.
Derek knew there was a cardinal rule in theater. The director was always the first to go. They needed every single technician, a cast was hard to replace, and producers had a tendency to stick to their choice when it came to their star. Once his job was done, and it was the hardest part, really, they didn't need him in the way of their money making. Firing the director was the only logical way to go. Eileen wasn't new to the theater, she knew the rule as well. At some point, their opposite visions were not only clashing on a regular basis, but it became painfully obvious for the both of them that they were incompatible. Derek didn't want to ruin their long lasting friendship. His ego would survive the storm, so he saved her the trouble and went back to England.
And it felt quite right at the time. At this point in his successful career, he didn't have to prove himself. For some obscure reasons, he was glad to reconnect with his roots. Too bad that naïve girl had to pay for Eileen's short-sightedness. The play was a smashing hit on Broadway, earning rave reviews from influent critics along with the praise of the industry, and yet Eileen had her mind set the whole time on finding a name to put on the billboard. It took her some manoeuvres and detours but she ultimately went for a real star. A real star, he didn't even know what she meant by that. Karen Cartwright was a star. She was perfect, she owned the role. You know what they say? When it's not broken, don't fix it.
At first, Eileen made him change everything, ransacking the lyrics and his direction every chance she got. After the first previews in Boston and Philadelphia, she sacked valuable dancers on a whim, and basically did everything in her power to destroy the play. Did she still want to get back at Jerry at some point? Maybe. As soon as she got her investment back, she decided to go for another inept blonde who'd never set foot on a stage in her career. 'Bombshell' went down in flames. It wasn't the biggest flop in Broadway's history but it made the headlines anyway. The problem was she didn't need to fire Cartwright and he resented her for doing it anyway.
Everybody had their eyes on their unknown leading lady fresh from Iowa. Every producer on Broadway wanted to steal her from 'Bombshell'. Eileen Rand, with her delusions of grandeur, merely did their work for them and gave them Cartwright on a silver plate. Jerry Rand was too happy to snatch her from 'Bombshell' and Cartwright became instantly the darling of New York City. She made the cover of every magazine, was invited to every morning show. Soon, a swarm of adoring fans and eager reporters were following her everywhere.
Derek didn't stick long enough to watch his play go down in flame, he had other fish to fry. Leaving New York had a price though. He knew he cared about Karen in his own way. When Jerry asked him to go back to 'My Fair Lady', he declined the offer. Falling for Cartwright was a bad idea. She was so naïve and gentle, it would have harmed her. And it was the last thing he wanted.
Hence, he was in London, in a cab, going to the first meeting of his next play in the West End longing and feeling like a teenager. He was 46, with a long list of smashing successes to speak for himself and he was in love and alone.