Two Marilyns and lots of steamy affairs… it's grown-up Glee with sex!
23:08 GMT, 19 April 2012
Smash is one of the most eagerly anticipated TV series of the year — sizzling and sexy, clad in sequins and belting out show-tune ballads.
Dubbed ‘the grown-up Glee’, the comparisons with the all-singing, all-dancing teen TV sensation are inevitable.
But there are some major differences: Glee was set in a high school, Smash is rooted firmly on the stage, and its toe-tapping tunes are not covers, but entirely original — written by the composers behind Hairspray and Catch Me If You Can .
Some like it hot: Katharine McPhee, left, and Megan Hilly as the two Marilyns
Preview reports say it’s the women stars — led by Anjelica Huston as feisty Broadway producer Eileen Rand — who steal the show. Others to watch out for include:
The Sitcom queen
Debra Messing, the 43-year-old Emmy-award winning actress, best-known for her role in the comedy Will & Grace, is back on the small screen as Julia Houston, celebrated lyricist and co-writer of the Broadway musical in Smash.
Smash: Debra Messing stars as Julia Houston in the new musical TV series – a role with many parallels to her own life
Her character is married to a chemistry teacher with whom she has a teenage son, and she is applying to adopt a second baby.
However, she rekindles an old affair with an actor lined up to play Marilyn Monroe’s husband Joe DiMaggio, leading to some steamy illicit sex scenes.
It’s all as messy as Messing’s own private life — she has separated from her husband, actor and screenwriter, Daniel Zelman, with whom she has an eight-year-old son, Roman, and is now romancing her Smash co-star and on-screen lover, Will Chase.
Not surprisingly she says of her role: ‘This challenges me in ways I have never been challenged before.
'It makes me excited to go to work. I had the same reaction when I read the script of Smash as I had when I read the pilot script of Will & Grace, which was that I love and care about these characters.’
The Broadway veteran
Voluptuous, blonde bombshell, Megan Hilty, 31, has the part of Ivy Lynn who is in contention for the lead role of Marilyn in the musical. Like her character, Hilty is a Broadway veteran.
Ivy succumbs to the charms of her director (played by Jack Davenport), and the action quickly moves from rehearsal room to bedroom.
‘My character is deeply flawed, but all of us do things that we regret,’ she says. ‘She’s trying to follow her heart and asking herself what she must sacrifice to make her dreams come true.’
From next month Megan will star as Lorelei Lee in the Broadway revival of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a role that cemented Marilyn Monroe’s reputation as a sex symbol when she made the 1953 film version.
Hilty has also just landed a record contract with Sony for an album of contemporary songs.
‘It’s like 15 of my dreams are all coming true, all at the same time,’ she says.
The American Idol
A former runner-up on American Idol, with three albums already to her name, Katharine McPhee, 28, is already well-known to U.S. audiences, but playing Karen Cartwright is set to send her profile soaring in Britain, too.
The stars of the new NBC series Smash Katharine McPhee, left, and Megan Hilty, right t
Karen is the inexperienced but talented rival to Ivy for the lead role of Marilyn, a battle that erupts into fierce competitiveness and backstabbing.
She rejects the director’s advances, instead practising her Marilyn sex-bomb act at home on her boyfriend Dev (former Spooks and Mistresses star Raza Jaffrey).
In real life, McPhee has come through bulimia and rehab, crediting American Idol with saving her life, because it made her sort out her attitude to food. ‘Karen is a big dreamer and really driven, but too trusting,’ she says.
‘Sometimes she annoys me with how naive she is.’
■ Smash begins at 10pm tomorrow on Sky Atlantic.