Finally. It's here! NBC's new Broadway-based drama Smash (from executive producer Steven Spielberg) premieres tonight and it is (shhh…don't tell) the series we are most excited out of all the midseason offerings.
Even if you aren't a fan of musicals or Broadway, this series will suck you in like a Dyson on rocket fuel. Reason numero uno? The amazing cast, and most importantly, the show's intoxicating leading ladies: Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty and Debra Messing.
We sat down with Smash's femme-fatale trifecta and here are three reasons you're gonna fall for them hard…
1. Katharine McPhee Will Shock You. In the Best Way! If you still think of her as that girl that came in second place to Taylor Hicks on American Idol, think again. McPhee (who stars as an aspiring actress trying to nail her first big role on Broadway) proves in the first few episodes of Smash that she can hold her own among veteran talent like Anjelica Huston and Debra Messing. And her voice? Have you ever heard an angel melt butter on its wings? It certainly can be argued that Kat's pipes rival, or possibly surpass, anyone else who has ever sang on television.
So how is it that Katharine never showed up on that other musical series that paved the way for this one? "I never got a call for Glee," McPhee admits. "I wasn't really pursuing television at the time…but when it came out, I was like, 'Oh man, I wish I would've known about that!' because I love the show.' "
And Messing contends McPhee deserves to break out as one of series television's new power players. "I watch American Idol, so I voted for her...So it has been really amazing to get to know her and to see what a lovely actress she is…She's entering the world of television and she's just flourishing!"
2. Megan Hilty Was Born for This Role: As McPhee's fiercest competition for the role of Marilyn Monroe (in the new Broadway musical Debra Messing's character is developing), Hilty's character Ivy is the perfect Marilyn. And Hilty (best known as Glinda in Wicked) is perfect for Ivy. "When I first saw the script, I was like, 'Really? Did somebody go up and ask what I've been praying for my whole life?!' " Hilty so flawlessly fits the Marilyn mold, she seems a shoo-in to score the leading role on the show-within-in-a-show, but McPhee's raw talent will leave you (and the producers) torn.
"These are two people who have never met before and now they're each other's fiercest competition and we couldn't be more different," Hilty explains. "It's going to keep people really interested in the dynamics of the ups and downs we go through together."
"I really don't look like Marilyn Monroe," McPhee admits. "And I think Megan actually, when you put the two pictures together, it's amazing. She really does look like Marilyn. But when you put the blonde wig on and the little mole, it resembles her and as long as you get the essence of Marilyn…that's how I've kind of been thinking about it in terms of the character."
3. Debra Messing Is Back and Arguably Better Than Ever. Sure, we always adored her on Will & Grace (duh) and her award-winning performance on The Starter Wife was good, sudsy fun. But Messing's new Smash character, Julia, is more deeply layered than we've seen before from her on television, and Messing nails each scene with such ease…perhaps because she's so passionate about this one.
"The world of Broadway and musical theater, it was my first love, Messing revealed to me. "That's what I wanted to do when I was little. I wanted to be Funny Girl. I wanted to be a hoofer and sing. My journey went a slightly different way, it turned out OK, but it came back and here's like this dream come true!"
Naturally, the Glee comparisons have been running rampant ever since it was announced NBC was doing a musical series, but Hilty points out this is a very different series: "This is a glamorous soap opera…It is more adult and it is darker…It's about Broadway instead of high school."
And Messing compares it to a vastly different TV show: It actually reminds me a little bit of The West Wing. The West Wing was my favorite show and I didn't know anything about politics, I didn't care about politics and yet I love that show and I felt like I was sort of peeking behind the curtain into a very rarified world."
See what all our shameless gushing is about when Smash premieres tonight on NBC. Then check back here for our "Save It or Sink It" to sound off with whether you agree!
(NBC and E! are both part of the NBCUniversal family)
Watch the video interviews above for more exclusive dish on Smash, and a closer look at Megan, Debra and Katharine...