NBC Press Day Is a “Smash” with a Variety of Shows and Stars

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“Smash” stars, from l, Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty.

The NBC Universal Summer press day held at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena was a “smash.” And that’s not just because the two ultra-talented stars of NBC’s musical drama Smash, Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty, were on hand. It was because they were joined by such a variety of stars from the network’s shows, and they all created a fun atmosphere talking about their shows and their lives.

The series Smash is filmed in New York, and Broadway veteran Megan Hilty (Wicked, 9 to 5) was gushing when she talked about the theater community holding Smash viewing parties on Monday nights, when the Broadway shows get the night off.

Because of their loyal viewers, the show (with its season finale May 14) will be back this fall, but the ladies are keeping busy until then. “I’m back in L.A. working on my music,” said Sherman Oaks’ own Katharine McPhee. “And I just got back from West Africa working with the Malaria No More project giving them a helping hand.”

Megan said she’s doing a short run of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in New York. “And I have my first record deal, so I’ll be working on my music, too.”

Speaking of music, Carson Daly is a busy fellow. When he wakes up he does the 97.1 AMP FM radio morning show, and before he falls asleep he does the NBC late night talk show Last Call with Carson Daly. And in between he hosts The Voice. Carson told me he credits his radio broadcasting career for shaping the timing skills he needs for his hosting chores.

For her interview session, Mariska Hargitay discussed her journey playing the role of Olivia Benson for 13 seasons on Law & Order: SVU airing Wednesday (season finale May 23). But even more impressive was hearing Mariska talk about the Joyful Heart Foundation, a charity she created that offers healing, wellness, and empowerment programs for survivors of abuse. She said, “The Joyful Heart is about the courage to heal, and our programming is dedicated to honoring that brave decision.” This year Mariska will get a well-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The imaginative Grimm airs on NBC Fridays at 9 p.m. (season finale May 18) and has a pick up for this fall. It’s a police detective series that has a fantasy/monster spin on it and stars David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Silas Weir Mitchell, and Bitsie Tulloch. They were there along with executive producers Sean Hayes, David Greenwalt, and Jim Kouf. Also on hand was veteran makeup effects artist Barney Burman, a true makeup magician who creates the incredible Grimm creatures that make the show extra special.

While having one of those creatures stalk him on stage, David Giuntoli beamed that their genre fans are “the greatest fans you could hope for. They keep you accountable too. And they imagine the world beyond even what we may imagine sometimes. That’s really cool.”

Community stars Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Jim Rash. The wacky community college sitcom that is part of NBC’s loaded-with-laughs Thursday night lineup, and will have its season finale May 24. In addition to being a great comedian, Rash won an Academy Award for co-writing The Descendants. Yvette said he hasn’t changed since receiving the award, but Joel jokes that he’s now “insufferable.”

The creativity of the show reminds me of the type of “out of the box” episodes that Scrubs used to do. But Yvette said because all the characters are grounded, they never feel that the writers have gone too far, “even though we’ve been in space in a chicken bus, there was a zombie apocalypse, a Dungeons and Dragons theme, and the school has been overrun with a paint ball war.” Joel insisted that “no one is doing anything like this on television. I feel like it’s Christmas morning every time I open a script.”

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