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Battle of Network Musicals? NBC's Smash "Grateful" to Glee for Paving the Road to Broadway

Smash Will Hart/NBC

Singing, dancing, rivalry…on paper, is NBC's midseason musical Smash just a Glee knockoff?

Don't toss your slushies, Gleeks, because the two shows are as different as New Directions and Vocal Adrenaline.

Smash, premiering Feb. 6 on the Peacock net (NBC and E! are both part of the NBCUniversal family), takes us behind the scenes of the Broadway theater, as two very different starlets (Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty) vie for the lead role in a Marilyn Monroe musical. Smash's huge ensemble cast—including Debra Messing as Marilyn's cowriter—gathered at the TCA Winter Press Tour to showcase their spectacular new drama.

And despite the great divide between the two shows, the creative forces behind Smash sing the praises of Glee creator Ryan Murphy for paving the way for TV musicals...

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"When Ryan Murphy did Glee, he broke a great barrier," acknowledged Smash executive producer Craig Zadan. "He allowed the networks to believe there could be drama, comedy and music on one show. We don't feel this show is like Glee, but we are grateful to Glee for opening that door."

"Smash is going to very important to us," NBC boss Robert Greenblatt said today. "I think we're really proud of it and excited about what it could do." Based on the first two episodes we've screened, we have a feeling Smash is going to be important to fans, too.

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"The amount of fun I'm having on this show is ridiculously off the charts already," said Messing, who said she "can't compare" the experience to her role on another NBC hit, Will & Grace. "This cast is so talented and committed. We're working really hard, but we're laughing a lot."

"The wonderful thing about the show is that there are so many people that come from [Broadway], said Hilty, who plays Ivy, the rival of McPhee's Karen. "It feels authentic. The drama that happens behind the curtain is way more interesting than what happens onstage."

Whether you're Team Karen or Team Ivy (we've already ordered our T-shirts!), series creator Theresa Rebeck points out, "Each of them creates a different Marilyn." And although one is awarded the coveted role at the end of the second episode, Greenblatt warns: "By the end of the season, the casting of Marilyn may not be what it was in episode two."

Smash premieres Feb. 6 on NBC. Have you bought your Team Ivy or Team Karen T-shirts yet?

(NBC and E! are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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