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Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): Megan Hilty on a 'Smash'-ing song (and dealing with the show's haters)

Yes, Smash is dead. (Sniff!) But its incredible original tunes will hopefully live on — particularly standouts like “Let Me Be Your Star,” “Let’s Be Bad,” and “They Just Keep Moving the Line,” a scorcher immortalized by Megan Hilty at the beginning of season 2. Like most of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s clever creations, the song’s lyrics work on multiple levels. In the context of Bombshell, Smash‘s show-within-a-show, the song finds Marilyn Monroe using an extended racing metaphor to lament the harshness of a business that keeps asking more and more of her. Hilty’s character, Ivy Lynn, has faced a similar series of struggles (years stuck in the chorus! A cheating director boyfriend! A brief and ridiculous addiction to prednisone!) within the show’s universe. And finally, the song’s world-weary lyrics can be read as Smash‘s way of reacting to its own harsh critics — those prepared to gleefully tear apart the series no matter what it did.

How did Hilty’s instantly classic performance come about? We chatted with the star, who’s moved from Smash to NBC’s Sean Saves the World, to find out. Oh, and just so you know: Hilty says that if she could choose any musical to perform live on NBC, Sound of Music-style, she’d go with Sweeney Todd. Even though, as she points out, “that’s probably not the most family friendly. They probably won’t be doing that at Christmas time.”

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Not to worry 'Smash' fans, Megan Hilty has a new gig

Smash may have had a very public journey into the Land of the Cancelled, but it hasn’t taken one of the show’s brightest stars long to find a new gig.

EW has confirmed a report that Megan Hilty, who played Broadway star Ivy Lynn on the NBC drama, has scored a series regular role on Sean Hayes’ upcoming multi-cam comedy Sean Saves the World, which premieres this fall. (Hayes previously had a guest spot on Smash.) Hilty will play Liz, Hayes’ character’s best friend and co-worker. She will replace Lindsay Sloane, who played the part in the pilot and left the show in May.

Watch all of the previews for NBC’s new shows here.

Related:
Stars of canceled NBC shows join Neil Patrick Harris on Tony stage for number — VIDEO
‘Smash': Exec Producer Josh Safran on the series finale and what season 3 would have been
Up for grabs: Where stars of canceled TV shows should head next

'Smash': Exec Producer Josh Safran on the series finale and what season 3 would have been

[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED THE SERIES FINALE OF SMASH!!!!]

After two seasons, the curtain has closed on NBC’s ambitious musical Smash. The series climaxed with Marilyn Monroe musical Bombshell winning big at the Tonys, including awards for Ivy (Megan Hilty) and composers Tom (Christian Borle) and Julia (Debra Messing). It also marked the end of an attempt to reboot the series under new executive producer Joshua Safran (Gossip Girl), who replaced series creator Theresa Rebeck. EW talked to Safran about the surprising finale, what season 3 would have looked like, and Rebeck’s criticism of his Smash. READ FULL STORY

'Smash': Curtain to fall on Sunday instead of Saturday

The fat lady has almost certainly sung for Smash — but at least the show’s going out in primetime (if not on a high note).

Earlier this month, NBC moved the ailing Broadway drama from Tuesdays to Saturdays. The network announced today, though, that it plans to air Smash‘s two-hour season — and possibly series — finale on Sunday, May 26 at 9 p.m. ET, rather than the previous day.

While Smash fans may take this as an encouraging sign, don’t be fooled — Smash‘s dismal ratings, coupled with its sky-high budget, all but ensure a cancellation. Its Sunday airing — the day before Memorial Day — will also come at the very tail end of finale season, after most network series have already wrapped; Once Upon a Time, Revenge, and Survivor: Caramoan, for instance, all air their finales on May 12.

Read more:
‘Smash’ Recaps and Episode Guide
NBC cancels ‘Ready for Love’
Requiem for a musical: How ‘Smash’ went wrong

'Smash': See Liza Minnelli duet with star Christian Borle -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

NBC’s Smash has seen its share of divas guest-starring, like Jennifer Hudson and Bernadette Peters. But the series scores a major coup with the grande dame of Broadway Liza Minnelli appearing as herself on this Saturday’s episode. Minnelli performs a duet with Tom (Christian Borle) while Ivy (Megan Hilty) watches from a nearby table. Watch the piano bar magic below. READ FULL STORY

'Smash' moves to Saturdays

Well at least NBC didn’t cancel it. The network announced today that it will relegate the very low-rated Smash to Saturdays beginning April 6, where it will live out its final days. NBC ordered a total of 17 episodes for its second (and obviously last) season, but hey — change was needed: Tuesday’s episode earned a 1.4 rating in 18-49 this week and a mere 4.78 million in viewers. Last year, it averaged 9.65 million and a 3.4 rating in the demo.

A couple of alternatives will air in Smash’s place Tuesdays. On April 2, NBC will air a one-hour season finale of The New Normal. And on April 9, Ready for Love — a new unscripted show that NBC seems to have a lot of confidence in — will take over the 9-11 p.m. slot after hefty lead-in The Voice. READ FULL STORY

'Smash': Watch Jennifer Hudson sing 'Home' from 'The Wiz' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Smash returns next Tuesday at 10pm with more of guest-star Jennifer Hudson. In this exclusive clip from the episode, called “The Dramaturg,” Hudson’s Ronnie Moore is rehearsing for her next Broadway show, a revival of The Wiz, and sings the musical’s signature song “Home.” Meanwhile, Derek (Jack Davenport) shows up to discuss the project with her. Watch the clip below…


Read more: 
‘Smash’ scoop: The Jennifer Hudson premiere performance you DIDN’T see — EXCLUSIVE
‘Smash’ Songs: 10 Bombshells (and 5 Bombs)
‘Smash’ season premiere review: Jennifer Hudson, more of a ‘Bombshell’ than Katharine McPhee? Plus, why ‘hate-watching’ should be mothballed

Follow Tim on Twitter: @EWTimStack

'Smash' scoop: The Jennifer Hudson premiere performance you DIDN'T see -- EXCLUSIVE

MARK PETERSON for EW

MARK PETERSON for EW

Did you watch NBC’s reboot of Smash last night? If you did, then you saw guest-star Jennifer Hudson’s first appearance as Broadway star Veronica “Ronnie” Moore (Hudson appears in 3 out of the first 4 Smash installments). Ronnie first appears in Beautiful, a Broadway show-within-Smash, and performs a rollicking swing number called “Mama Makes Three.” But that was not how producers initially intended to introduce Ronnie. READ FULL STORY

'Smash': Watch Jeremy Jordan serenade Katharine McPhee -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

For the second season of Smash, producers added a bunch of new, younger cast members including Jeremy Jordan’s talented, but troubled composer Jimmy. In this clip from the season premiere, airing Feb. 5 on NBC, Karen (Katharine McPhee) catches Jimmy performing one of his secret songs for the musical he’s writing with his partner Kyle (Andy Mientus). Watch below… READ FULL STORY

'Smash': Watch Jennifer Hudson sing the new song 'I Can't Let Go' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

If you’re going to hire Jennifer Hudson to guest-star on a musical like Smash, you better have an epic ballad for the Oscar-winner to sing. Well, thankfully, the producers of the NBC series know exactly how to use Hudson’s talents. In this exclusive clip from the climax of episode 4, Hudson’s Veronica “Ronnie” Moore sings a brand new song, written by Smash‘s composers and exec producers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, while performing at her own televised concert.

Regular viewers will recognize Derek (Jack Davenport), who directed the concert, standing in the wings; Ivy (Megan Hilty) and Karen (Katharine McPhee) singing back-up; Tom (Christian Borle) on the piano; and newcomers Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan) and Kyle (Andy Mientus), whose characters are credited with penning “I Can’t Let Go” on the episode. Also, look for a cameo in the audience by Sheryl Lee Ralph as Ronnie’s controlling mother. Watch the spectacle below… READ FULL STORY

'Smash' producers: They read your hate tweets!

Yep, the Smash producers read all of your hate tweets, all of those angry diatribes about certain plot points or, more specifically, Debra Messing’s interminable scarves from season one. And apparently, they took the criticism to heart.

“As it unfolded over the first season, I read the love-hate, and I hope I was objective enough to say that it made sense,” said Smash Executive Producer Neil Meron, who was joined at the Television Critics Tour Sunday with actors Megan Hilty (Ivy), Katherine McPhee (Karen), Anjelica Huston (Eileen) and others, along with the drama’s new showrunner Josh Safran. “First seasons of shows need time to find themselves, to lock into what they are, especially with a show like Smash. There are so many moving parts to figure out the mechanism. It’s a fantastic machine. When certain moments worked in season one, I dare anybody to say what could be better.” READ FULL STORY

'Smash': Watch the gag reel from season 1 -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Season two of NBC’s Smash doesn’t premiere until Feb. 5 but viewers (and newcomers to the show) can get caught up on the musical drama with the Jan. 8 DVD release of season 1. Besides the 15 episodes, the DVD set includes deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes piece on the musical numbers, and the gag reel which EW is exclusively premiering today. Watch the cast mess up (and crack up) below.

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'Smash': See the first images of Liza Minnelli in season 2 -- EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS

Will Hart/NBC

Will Hart/NBC

For its second season, NBC’s Smash is undergoing a reboot that includes more musicals and bigger star power, like Entertainment Weekly cover girl Jennifer Hudson and music icon Liza Minnelli. EW has the exclusive first images of Minnelli, who plays herself in episode 10 of the musical drama. The actress even gets to sing an original song, written by Smash producers Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman, alongside star Christian Borle, who plays Tom. “This [Broadway] community is so small that a Tom would know Liza Minnelli personally,” says NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. “It’s an episode where Tom is trying to make it up to Ivy (Megan Hilty) because they’ve had a bit of a falling out. He takes her to a restaurant because it’s her birthday and as a peace-offering, he presents Liza Minnelli to sing a song that he wrote. And Christian and Liza sing it together.” Check out another image of Minnelli below. READ FULL STORY

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