Katharine McPhee, one of the stars of NBC's Smash, a new drama about the making of a Broadway musical, believes the world would be a much better place if everyone sang more.
"Even if they're just singing for themselves in the shower," the former American Idol runner-up suggests. "It would calm people's nerves. We would have fewer crazy people running around.
"I know I'm always happiest when I'm singing."
That's easy for McPhee to say because she's really good at it. Turns out she is a pretty darned good actress as well.
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In Smash, which premieres at 9 p.m. Monday, McPhee plays Karen Cartwright, one of two aspiring actresses vying for the title role in a musical about Marilyn Monroe.
Megan Hilty -- who happens to be a Broadway star in real life, having headlined such shows as Wicked and 9 to 5: The Music al -- plays Ivy Lynn, the other gifted actress eyeing the Marilyn role.
The Karen-vs.-Ivy competition is just one compelling aspect of this series, the best new show that NBC has brought out in years. Both characters seem to have what it takes. Although the blond and curvy Hilty/Ivy obviously has the Marilyn look, the brunette and thin McPhee/Karen can't be dismissed.
Don't be surprised, in fact, if viewers find themselves choosing sides. They won't be able to place votes, American Idol-style. But the TV audience very likely will find itself debating about favorites, the way that Gilligan's Island viewers have long discussed the eternal question: Ginger or Mary Ann?
"Ginger was the sexy one, right?" McPhee says. "I loved Ginger."
Which is interesting because McPhee is clearly the Mary Ann of the two.
Or how about a more contemporary, Twilight-style example? The Karen-vs.-Ivy debate will be like choosing between Team Jacob vs. Team Edward.
"If something like that happens for us, I'm going to be Team Ivy, for sure," McPhee says. "The two of us have to root for each other. We like each other too much in real life not to root for each other."
One will be cast as Marilyn by the end of Episode 2, but that won't be the end of the story. There also will be a mercurial superstar (played by Uma Thurman) trying to grab this prize role. Nothing will be carved in stone until opening night.
In the meantime, viewers will get a backstage glimpse at how a Broadway musical is mounted, from casting the parts to writing the songs to financing the whole shebang.
The mere idea of doing a TV series like this, McPhee says, blew her skirt up, Marilyn-style.
"I actually had my eye on this project for a couple of years," she says. "I thought: 'Wow, that sounds so original, so interesting. And I loved the idea of being able to tie my music --and when I say 'my music,' I mean singing -- into a show.
"So when my manager called about a year ago to tell me about auditioning for the pilot, I was so eager he couldn't even finish the sentence before I started saying how much I wanted it."
Like the character she plays, McPhee has had her fair share of unsuccessful auditions while trying to make a name for herself as an actress.
"My passion for acting started a long time ago," she says. "A lot of people don't know I was pursuing acting long before I went on Ido l. I was born and raised in L.A., and I was going out for pilot season and films and then sort of fell into doing the Idol show.
"Obviously music was also something I wanted to pursue. But I was still always looking for the perfect opportunity as far as acting goes. And this was the thing that I felt was so right for me."
Because of the music, Smash is sometimes described as being Glee for adults. If the "for adults" part means that Smash is less gimmicky and more grounded in reality, then it's a fair comparison.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing Smash is that it's on a struggling network, airing against a couple of ratings successes, ABC's Castle and CBS' Hawaii Five-O.
But McPhee says she believes that Smash has the potential to live up to its name.
"We're making really good television," she says. "I think people have been craving some really good drama. There are very few great shows on network television that can really keep you on the edge of your seat. And I think, if people check us out, they're going to like what they see."