Smash Exclusive First Look: Karen's Back in a Marilyn Mood for 'Public Relations'!

Worried that Smash‘s Karen Cartwright has been too distracted by her new (possible) paramour Jimmy’s zygote of a musical The Hit List to properly focus on her role as Marilyn Monroe in the much further developed Bombshell? Well, it’s time to press pause on the “fret” button.

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In this exclusive preview from next Tuesday’s episode “The Read-Through” (10/9c on NBC), Katharine McPhee’s protagonist — looking more Marilyn-esque than she has at any point in the series — leads an elaborate new production number called “Public Relations.”

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of breathy coos and double-entendres (“Well, I’m pretty good in private, but the truth is I’m better in a crowd!”), but you’ll also get some fleet-footed dancing and Christian Borle’s Tom trying out an exaggerated German accent.

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So press play below to see Bombshell‘s latest homage to “America’s smart dumb blonde” then hit the comments with your thoughts!

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. SylwekG says:

    “Worried that Smash‘s Karen Cartwright has been too distracted by her new (possible) paramour Jimmy’s zygote of a musical The Hit List to properly focus on her role as Marilyn Monroe in the much further developed Bombshell?”

    Nope. I don’t care about this Mary Sue at all.

  2. Josh says:

    Give me some Iv…At least Karen got to sing a hook in last night’s the “The Saga of Jimmy The Unlikable”…Ivy had like five lines.

  3. Lou says:

    I miss Ivy :(. Karen is just…bleh….(no offence to the actress, it’s just shes an extremely bleh character).

    • I totally agree with you. I love this show but I think Katherine McPhee acting is one of the biggest reasons that is going to make the show to be cancel. I agree that she can sing but that’s it. She has a long way to go to become a good actress. I started to hate more and more her character, because she can not deliver when she acts. Some people can act and sing ( example, Jeniffer Hudson, Megan Hilty, among others ) She can not express any emotions either in her face or when she sings. I think she is not broadway material and the writers keep given her character soooooo much importance. Also pushing her character and trying to make believe the audience she is the real Marylin and she is this great undiscovered broadway actress. Is like she has the emotions of a spoon, she is as or even worse than that actress-home wrecker ( that sleep with directors now in real life ) playing the girlfriend and then wife on that vampire saga. Please NBC writers for Smash the show, can you please listen to the fans and just make Katherine Mcphee’s character and her disappear from the show for a little bit while she learns how to act. I love the story and what is this show about, but I believe NBC producers for Smash, made a huge mistake casting McPhee for this character. Is way over her head and she still to RAW!!!

  4. Margaret says:

    best part of that video? Bobby’s back!! I’ve missed his brand of snark these past few episodes, particularly when it comes to Karen

  5. Smashtastic says:

    This is awesome! Karen’s best Bombshell performance yet, and such a fun number. Love seeing Christian Borle in another number too <3 I've been waiting for another big production number like this since s2 started

  6. As much as I agree that Megan / Ivy has the stronger voice and the “curve” appeal for Marilyn, I like Katherine / Karen as Marilyn, too. I think Ivy took it to a point where she wasn’t having fun with the role and that’s what made it such a snooze to watch. I’m more excited to see Ivy in Liasons. I think that role, so similar to Marilyn but also set at a time where everything was generally more serious, is going to look so good on her.

    Also, last night’s episode wasn’t supposed to be about Ivy or Karen which is probably why neither of them were really in it.

  7. Anissa says:

    I like when Karen get the Monroe songs (yes I know I’m in the minority) as she really can dance. Ivy is great but Megan can’t really dance so the choreography is people dancing around her and she mostly is lifted around. I like big production numbers like Fox Mambo that use the triple threat approach more.

    • Kin says:

      I agree with this. I know Ivy is meant to be this dancer, but in reality Megan Hilty isn’t a strong dancer, so we never get to see her do the really energetic Marilyn numbers. This is why in reality I could never really see Hilty doing this show if it were a real broadway musical. Of course they would probably change around a lot of the choreography. Anyway, I like both Karen an Ivy as Marilyn so I’m always happy when we get a new Bombshell performance :)

  8. Kin says:

    Omg i love this, thanks for posting! Bombshell performances i’ve missed you!! I never understand when people say Ivy looks way more like Marilyn than Karen. Facially I think Karen is wayyyyyy more Marilyn like, especially in this performance.

  9. Michael says:

    Amazing! Closest anyone has come to Marilyn on Smash yet! Just perfect.

  10. dude says:

    I honestly prefer Karen to Ivy. Ivy is just a mess of a character. First they wanted her to be sympathetic, then they made her horrible, now they’re going overboard to make her sympathetic by piling on to her misery at every corner. I fully expect Ivy to be diagnosed with an incurable disease only she has, her mother is going to get hit by a bus and her puppy will try to kill her. Sorry writers, still don’t like her. I don’t think Karen is an amazing character but I do like Katherine McPhee. She’s likable and that’s enough for me.

  11. abbyjo says:

    i’m just happy to see (even briefly) Christian Borle singing and dancing. I know he’s not playing an actor, but gosh I wish they gave him more to do, song-wise!

  12. Liam says:

    Katharine McPhee is phenomenal. The girl can change up her voice so much. I love her. Karen is Smash.

  13. jc says:

    Loving some McBorle! This type of performance is the Smash I love!

  14. Kevin says:

    This is sensational! It looks like one of the best Bombshell numbers to date. Karen totally nails it!

  15. KT says:

    Needs more Ivy.

  16. J says:

    Love this!!! Love Karen!! Love Katharine!!

  17. JJ says:

    I’ve loved this song since the Bombshell soundtrack came out! Awesome to see it!

  18. RTM says:

    McPhee seems so much better acting as Marilyn than as Karen.

  19. Jessica says:

    I’m loving Smash this season. I watched the entire first season, but there was always something I felt not quite right and I was always wondering if I should stay invested in it. I was skeptical of how the changes would go down when I heard about them, but I love it! I can’t get enough of this season. It’s the first show I want to watch when I get home to my DVR. And I love that we get to see more than one show developing now too. I LOVE the songs coming for Hit List, and I love the performer. I’m worried about the ratings. I hope it picks up so we don’t lose it. Hope to at least get all of season 2!

  20. garrymerza_2010 says:

    i love the performance. don’t understand why they get low ratings. but who the hell care?! They just don’t watch it that’s why they get low ratings. but those who watch. WE LOVE IT. triple treats! We get to know more about marilyn (the ohter side), we see dancing and singing. Can’t ask for more!

  21. Kelli Samson says:

    Awesome! Karen and Tom were great! Really loved it – – – –

  22. marta says:


  23. marta says:

    if you’re two faced, make one of them pretty — my favorite line!!!!

  24. LauraLee says:

    Finally, Katharine McPhee singing and dancing. Her talent is amazing and her face breathtaking. Why doesn’t Megan Hilty have full-blown song/dance numbers? Guess it doesn’t matter cuz in any cast scene, my eyes are drawn only to Katharine.

    • janey says:

      “…she is as or even worse than that actress-home wrecker ( that sleep with directors now in real life ) playing the girlfriend and then wife on that vampire saga.”

      Ha, Smashalchoholic! You called it. Maybe you’re psychic.

    • janey says:

      Honey, she’s been singing and dancing on and off broadway. smdh.

  25. Ronnie says:

    Love this music…..more please! Reminds me of a 50’s musical. Enough of “reality” TV…

  26. vane says:

    I really love smash bt karen to me is so un likeable and I really dislike the new guy (jimmy) wish it had more ivy love her and the rest of the cast!

  27. jalahyacinth says:

    Don’t watch the show (I tried, I really did), but CHRISTIAN BORLE! He’s the whole reason I wanted to watch the show in the first place. Awesome Broadway actor :)

  28. Lailly says:

    The best part of last night’s episode was the absence of ivy. They should focus more on the more interesting stories like Karen and hit list.

    • Opinionmine says:

      Totally disagree! Megan Hilty is a tremendous actor and singer. Kat McPhee, as good of a singer as she is, certianly does not live up to Hilty ( or anyone else on the show’s) acting ability.
      Hilty knows how to work a scene and a song!

  29. jess k says:

    I wish they would just make an episode of Smash with just Ivy & Bobby talking smack and Tom singing and dancing the whole show. Oh, and Eileen throwing drinks in everyone’s faces.

  30. Robin Leslie says:

    Put the show back Mondays!!!! Please!!! That’s real actor’s day off! And we want to watch it live!!!

  31. Ann says:

    Love episode 4. The best one yet on Season 2. NBC- Re-run episode 4 this weekend!!!More people need to see, hear and love this music. Jack Davenport melts me.

  32. Carola says:

    Love Karen as Marilyn. I totally see what Derek saw. She has the essence and plays it very natural.
    BTW those two need to get together down the road. I hate the Jimmy dude so much.

    Megan is great too and Ivy fans should not worry. She is obviously getting the part back, because Karen will be in the new musical Hit List.

    • squirrel says:

      Now I’ve seen this performance I’d rather Karen stayed with Bombshell. I was looking forward to Karen being in Hit List, but Jimmy is dampening my enthusiasm. They need to make him more likable soon! I do think he and McPhee have good chemistry though.

    • missy says:

      I agree with all of that. That Jimmy!! is a whiny little brat and Karen is much too good for him. What is she thinking? ;P Megan is ok, but they make her too bipolar. She does a good Marilyn but she is tooooo loud. Karen is a much better Marilyn, but needs Ivy’s curves :)

  33. squirrel says:

    What a fun performance! Tom and Karen might have just become my new ship. Toren <3 Kat McPhee nails the Marilyn-ness as well in this. Far cry from her zoolander days, lol

  34. Elaine says:

    Love this number. I’ve always felt that Karen plays a better Marilyn than Ivy – both are talented ladies who can play many aspects of Marilyn beautifully, but Karen has that ethereal quality which Ivy lacks – something Derek recognized last season. As for this season in general, whoever took over the show seems to have missed the point of an ensemble show, instead scattering the characters all over town and dissipating the energy they brought to the show. As for the pouty new kid, he’s taking way to long to get a grip and lose the whine. Instead of helping him, I wish Derek would deck him.

  35. Olja says:

    Awesome performance. Loved it, and can’t wait to see the whole number.

  36. Patt says:

    I love Smash; wait all week for a new episode. The big production numbers are the best, regardless of whether acted by Karen or Ivy. I wish they focused more on the Broadway aspect, not just the concert numbers. I hope ratings improve and this show continues for more seasons because this is one of the best shows on TV — no one dies!!

  37. Steven says:

    Wow! I’ve watched this several times. The choreography is amazing! I much prefer Karen’s overall take on Marilyn. Ivy is good as the jacked-up Marilyn, though.

  38. Caro says:

    I love this clip! Karen is incredible as Marilyn and Tom is awesome! I don’t know how Kat McPhee can dance so beautifully and sing so wonderfully at the same time – she must have amazing breath control and be in great shape. This is why Ivy could never play Marilyn – she can sing but she can’t dance and I don’t think Megan could handle the choreography!

  39. cory says:

    Karen her character is annoying but when she is MARILYN shes amazing!!!!! with so much potential as a performer cant wait till tuesday!!! ugh lol

  40. Ken says:

    More Jeremy Jordan “Jimmy” performing!