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'Smash': Katharine McPhee On Avoiding The Hype


First Posted: 02/ 2/2012 10:30 am Updated: 04/ 3/2012 5:12 am

You've seen the commercials; you've read the articles; and you may have even seen the first episode.

There seems to be no escaping "Smash," NBC's new musical drama about the creation of a Broadway show.

The Peacock network has been touting the debut of the new series, which is backed by Steven Spielberg, for months now and critics have been singing its praises; but all of that puts some pressure on the people whose job is to make the show a success.

"You know something? You can't really escape the pressure, whether it's direct or implied or just kind of omnipresent," Neil Meron, "Smash" executive producer, told The Huffington Post on set. "You just try and not think about it because the show is so massive just in terms of its day-to-day schedule. There's enough pressure in terms of producing the show. Everything else kind of falls by the wayside when you have the show as your first priority."

Meron, who has produced numerous TV and movie musicals, including "Chicago" and "Hairspray," said that stress has been around since the pilot first made the media rounds.

"People have said that they saw the pilot before the [other episodes] were ready to be seen and it was one of those things: 'Great pilot. The series is going to be mediocre,'" he said. "We kind of felt that we needed to keep up the quality of the pilot and also, prove that there are legs here. That was the big question."

"Smash" tells the story of the creation of a Broadway musical based on the life of film icon Marilyn Monroe. There's the producer (Anjelica Huston), lyricists (Debra Messing and Christian Borle), director (Jack Davenport) and potential stage stars (Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee), all of whom interweave into the creation of the stage show.

Many viewers will remember McPhee from her time on Fox's "American Idol," where she placed second, behind winner Taylor Hicks, during the singing competition's fifth season. But for other audience members, this is McPhee's breakout role: The network's heavy promo has even been billing "Smash" as her introduction to viewers.

"Obviously, it wasn't in my rider by any means," McPhee told The Huffington Post on set with a laugh. Since "Idol," McPhee has made guest appearances on "CSI: NY" and "Community" and co-starred in movies like "Shark Night 3D" and "House Bunny."

"I've gotten Twitter people who are like, 'How can they write her as 'introducing?' We've known her for six years,'" she said. "People get really defensive. I don't take it as an offensive thing at all. I think it's a great thing. NBC has the opportunity to really introduce me as an actress to people."

McPhee, who has been singled out for her impressive work on "Smash," said she's keeping her head down and trying to avoid the attention.

"I've been in this for a while now and I have very high expectations for the show, but I'm also really realistic and kind of don't pay attention," she said. "Everyone is like, 'Did you see The New York Times? Did you see this? Did you see all the press?' I kind of really keep myself sheltered and don't pay attention too much to it because right now has to be about the work because I just don't want to be disappointed by everyone else's excitement for what the show could do for me or whatever.

"I'm just grateful to be on the show and grateful for the people involved," McPhee added. "I'm just kind of living in the moment, that's what I'm going for."

"Smash" premieres on Mon., Feb. 6 at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.

Check out more from the cast and producers here:

Megan Hilty as Ivy Lynn
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Megan Hilty on playing Ivy Lynn:
"She is fantastic! She's a girl who knows what she wants, and she'll do anything she can to get it."

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