Scoop: Will & Grace's Debra Messing Joins NBC's Glee-esque Pilot Smash

Debra Messing is climbing back in bed with a certain Peacock. That’s not as dirty as it sounds, I swear.

The Will & Grace Emmy winner is thisclose to landing a lead role in NBC’s hour-long musical pilot Smash, sources confirm.

The project — from Steven Spielberg, Chicago duo Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and Hairspray songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman — follows a diverse cast of characters who come together to stage a Broadway show about Marilyn Monroe.

Messing will play Julia, the musical’s good-natured lyricist who is slow to embrace the commercially-iffy subject matter.

Thoughts? Are you more or less inclined to sample Smash with Messing on board?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Justine says:

    I am really excited to see this show! I’m not a fan of Glee. I thought it was a great idea originally and the music is well done, but the show is relatively plotless and without any substance. For NBC to stay on its feet, they’re only hope is to upstage Glee, by bringing a show with music and story that actually makes sense. As long as Smash doesn’t replace Chuck, I’ll be very happy to try it out!

  2. Jared says:

    This is such a waste of her talent! NBC is trying to jump on board of the “Glee” bandwagon and it is not going to work. Better luck next time NBC.

    Debra Messing is a great actress and should not be connected to a copy-cat project!

    • John says:

      How does this have anything to do with Glee other than being rooted in music? Do you think of 42nd Street and High School Musical as the same thing?

    • justaguy says:

      I am no sure what your Glee comment is about but DM is an average actress. She plays the same person on every show. Frankly is was fun on Seinfeld, wore thin on N/S, and collapsed on Will and Grace.

    • Ron Pulliam says:

      Sorry, but I don’t think Debra Messing is a great actress or a near-great actress.

      She’s an average actress who hasn’t one bit lived up to the witty writing “Will and Grace” provided her. Even in that show, her character became very, very tired.

  3. nicole T. says:

    I am a big fan of Glee, but that is not the reason I am skeptical of Smash. I am skeptical of any copycat. But, that said, I have seen copycatting work in the past. And I am a million times more inclined to watch if Debra Messing actually signs on. No matter how they perfect Glee’s imperfections, however, it will never be as original as Glee was in the beginning.

  4. Alex says:

    Omg I hadn’t really been paying attention to the news on this show (mainly because of the enormous letdown Glee has been this season), but I like the idea of them staging a play about Marilyn Monroe! I’m a huge fan :) Debra Messing is an added bonus! I’ll def be giving the pilot a shot now.

  5. Blink says:

    Can’t wait for this show. Especially if jonathan Groff is going to be on every week.

    • Julianna says:

      You’re not the only one, I am too. I love Jon and I’m dying for confirmation of his return to Glee (I love Jesse, and St. Berry), but if he joins Smash, then count me in! Now even more with Debra being onboard, I like her a lot.

  6. John says:

    Glee has rekindled an interest in musical television projects, but beyond that, I see no way that this show is going to look, sound, or feel anything like Glee. Will there be music? Yes. Musical numbers? Probably. It sounds like the premise of the show has more to do with reluctantly selling out, which has more in common with Extras, Slings and Arrows, or the current Episodes than with Glee. Is TV only allowed to have one musical show? Some of us don’t like that one but like musicals.

  7. John Berggren says:

    I’m certainly not going to knock something before it ever goes to pilot – and I’ll surely sample it before I feel qualified to comment on it if it goes to series.
    That said, I have a hard time seeing past the concept to a series that lasts for more than one season. This seems very “Prison Break” to me – insomuch as it might be brilliant for one season, but stretching it beyond that may be straining credulity.

    • John says:

      If I had to guess, season 1 will probably focus on the mounting of this show, and if it succeeds, successive seasons will either be new projects or separate endeavors of the creative team.

      Veronica Mars started out as a show about solving a murder. Solved end of season 1.

      Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the pilot introduced a specific villain beaten at the end of season 1.

      Cougar Town used to be about, well, Cougars.

      Sydney Bristow took down SD6 halfway through the second season of Alias.

      Parks and Rec was about a project to fill in a giant pit. Succeeded by accident halfway through second season.

      Shows evolve. It falls on the writing and acting to keep us hooked.

      • John Berggren says:

        I don’t disagree with your analysis of a shows ability to evolve, but I just don’t see they way this one could. Keeping a cast of characters together from one broadway show to another is a much greater suspension of disbelief than Buffy having new villains to fight or Veronica Mars having new mysteries to solve. The problem with the premise is that, like Prison Break, it is inherently transient. They aren’t running a broadway theater and thus have a standing staff and a rotation of musicals, they are mounting a broadway production and will disperse to other projects at the end.

        Of course they could pretend that they have a magic group of people that will always work together and always be successful, but I feel they may outstay their welcome if they do so.

  8. Jones19 says:

    Her joining the show is even more incentive to check it out. Debra is a great actress, love her.

    • kittycave says:

      I think she is adorable and just because there is a music theme doesn’t mean a copy cat. How many law and doc shows are there? I am appreciative of Glee’s success, but not a watcher. I will look forward to Debra Messing in a new show….Yay.

  9. Josh says:

    So are people considering this a copycat because there will be singing and dancing? Nevermind the stories are completely different, as is the setting and plotline.

    The creative team is second to none, and with Messing on board, I’m excited for this. I was excited for Glee, too, and look where that got me.

  10. Monica says:

    Has Jonathan Groff signed yet?

  11. DryedMangoez says:

    So any musical-related TV project is “Glee-esque?”
    Come on now.

  12. Scott says:

    It’ll be good to see her back on tv regularly again. I know this show will be compared to Glee but hopefully it’ll have more of a Slings And Arrows vibe about it, if anyone else remembers that terrific Canadian show from a few years back. You know, a more adult Glee, darker and more serious because if they’re just going to copy Glee, it’ll fail. But if they do something different to get the Glee audience and also the waiverers, then it could be a massive ratings success and NBC desperately need one of those.

  13. Jon says:

    Messing? Kiss of death.

  14. Mikos says:

    Holy crap Ausiello, look at the size of your picture! I’d go smaller but as that pic reminds me I’m not the freaking editor in chief.

  15. diana says:

    much less likely to watch….sorry.

  16. Tiffany says:

    I had no intentions of trying this show out if it goes to series, but I adore Debra Messing. If she’s in, so am I!

  17. Mary says:

    I’m very excited for this show. I love the musicality of Glee, but am also one that have grown more and more impatient every week when it comes to plot. If this is done right, it could also have really amazing musical numbers, and be centered in a setting and with characters that are more true to real life. I can’t wait and really hope it gets picked up for next fall.

  18. joe says:

    She was at her absolute best as Grace whenever she attempted to sing (badly). I’m sure she wants to distance herself from that character… but she was so funny doing that. I hope there’s at least some Grace-similarity when it comes to singing on Smash.

    • John says:

      Guessing from her type, style of comedy, and the premise, I’d bet she’s playing sort of a modern day Betty Comden-type character. Wonder who they’ll pair her off with as her composer.


    From Ned & Stacy thru Starter Wife and everything in between, Messing has made every charactor she played incredibly annoying. I don’t expect this show to be any different.

  20. Ellie says:

    I love this idea for a show & I ADORE Debra Messing, so I hope this show is a success!!! I too loved Glee last year, but I have become frustrated with the plot lines this year. There have been some amazing musical numbers however, and so I still tune in for those. Hopefully this new show will combine strong writing with strong musical number and be the best of both worlds.

  21. Lisa says:

    Spare me!

  22. Lisa says:

    She seriously needs to get rid of that ugly ass hair color she’s had forever.

  23. Derrick says:

    Now if it was a broadway show about Marilyn Manson, that would be clever and cutting edge… ;P

  24. toons says:

    TV Musicals suck balls.

  25. Brittany says:

    Great casting! But the announcement I’m truly waiting for is if Jonathan Groff will be a part of this series. He’s such an amazing and talented actor, singer and performer. I feel like this show would be perfect to showcase that and he won’t be overshadowed like he would if he went back to Glee.

    • John says:

      See, part of me agrees with you. I think Groff is very talented and versatile, but he’s very contemporary, so his casting is going to hinge on what style the musical-within-the-show goes for. Although, I could see him playing, like, the pop star or TV star that the producers try to shoe-horn into their show very very well.

  26. H. says:

    People who say this won’t work are a little dim. That’s like saying there should only ever be one musical on stage or film because obviously it would be copying? Just because Glee did the first TV show to go all-out musical style, doesn’t mean every one after it is doomed for failure or to be branned a copy.

    The plot doesn’t even sound similar to Glee. Idk, I’m quite excited for it. :)

  27. Mack says:

    Debra is beautiful & talented. She’s sure to bring something special to the project.

  28. Dan says:

    Good actress or not, Debra Messing makes me and a lot of other people laugh and she plays her rolls believable.
    I’m definately going to watch this show now that she’s in it.
    I hope it’s going to be less shallow and more musical-oriënted than Glee.