Tune-In Alert: ‘Smash’ Returns Feb. 5 with Special Two-Hour Premiere

Katharine McPhee and Jeremy Jordan on season 2 of "Smash." (NBC)

“There are a lot of big changes from last season,” says a platinum blond Megan Hilty about the second season of the NBC series “Smash,” on which she stars as Ivy Lynn. “We have a lot of new faces, great guest stars, new musicals, and a lot more drama.” Adds Leslie Odom, Jr., who plays Ivy’s best friend, Sam: “All the things that people loved about the first season are back. So are the things they loved to hate. And now there’s going to be even more.”

Indeed, the hit show about a musical hoping for a Broadway run returns February 5 with a special two-hour premiere featuring new storylines, new shows, huge production numbers, Oscar-winning guest star Jennifer Hudson, new characters, a new show-runner (Josh Safran), plus all of the familiar jealousy, back-stabbing, ego, insecurity, and wonderful music that made “Smash” one of TV’s best new shows of 2012.

Aware that most fans (and probably some network executives) are having a hard time waiting till the premiere date, NBC announced the first hour will be available on Monday, January 14. Here is what you need to know to get ready for the new season:

How to Watch Season 1: If you need to catch up on past episodes, every episode from the first season is available on XFINITY TV, with multiple ways to watch – with XFINITY On Demand, on your TV, and online by clicking here.

Meet the New Composers: Jeremy Jordan, a Tony Award nominee for his leading role in the Broadway hit “Newsies,” and Andy Mientus, who starred in the road company of “Spring Awakening,” play Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop, an up-and-coming writing team in Brooklyn working on a contemporary rock musical. “The first day on the set was thrilling,” says Mientus. “I walked into a room and saw a lot of people from the theater world I had idolized growing up, alongside these Academy Award winner and television legends. Everyone was friendly. In a great way, I felt totally at ease.”

Karen Cartwright Has a New Roommate: As you’ll recall, Karen split with her fiancé after he slept with Ivy and Derek is, well, he’s Derek, and so in this second season she finds herself sharing a place with Ana Vargas, played by Krysta Rodriguez, a Broadway veteran (“In the Heights,” “Spring Awakening,” “The Addams Family”). “I kind of show Karen the ropes of New York and push her to be a little more outgoing,” says Rodriquez, who had guested on a “Gossip Girl” episode executive produced by “Smash”’s new show runner, Josh Safran. “I went in for an audition and three days later got the job,” she says. “That’s never happened to me before. I’m usually a 7 or 8 audition kind of gal. But I guess Josh had been following me a little bit, and here we are.”

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That’s Not All with Karen: “In addition to a new roommate, she has a new sort of love interest, boyfriend – maybe,” says McPhee. “And she has an opportunity to take this idea for a new show and take it to the next level, while still trying to pursue the “Bombshell” show. So there are lots of great new musicals happening, new genres, all different kinds of music on the show.”

Will Producer Eileen Rand Get “Bombshell” On Broadway? She’s oh so close, but without spoiling anything in the first episode, so close ain’t opening night. “It’s still a question of how she’s going to get her money,” says Academy Award-winner Angelica Huston,” who plays Rand. “And how is she going to keep the show on the road? I do have a potential new love interest, which is interesting. But Eileen’s life is very much about the show and keeping it together by hook or by crook, even if I have to go to this horrible ex husband of mine.” Smiling, she adds, “I’m having fun.”

Why You Should Like Ivy: “Everyone knows what it’s like to be stuck and desperately want to move forward in your life and career, but not really know how,” says Hilty. “And you ask yourself, ‘What am I willing to sacrifice to make that happen?’ That’s Ivy.”

My Favorite Scene from Season 1: “I loved doing ‘Let’s Be Bad’ and ‘Cheers’ with Katharine,” says Hilty. “It was a great moment for us – not only for the characters coming together, but it was great hanging out with Kat in Times Square all night and dancing around in our costumes.”

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Off-Camera, Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty Are Pals: “We are completely stupid together on the set,” says McPhee. “We are 100 percent unprofessional. As soon as they say cut, we are laughing. We have fun together. I think the crew appreciates our sense of humor and our goofiness. It keeps things fun.”

Jennifer Hudson Guest Stars: “She’s amazing,” says McPhee. “What more is there to say? That voice. I loved getting to sing with her.” Adds Hilty,” “Her voice is incredibly and she was so lovely to be around on the set. We were very lucky to have her.”

Liza Minelli Guest Stars Later in the Season, and She Was…: “Unbelievable,” says Hilty. “I mean she’s Liza Minelli. She’s so supportive. She’s always giving advice to her fellow performers. Like there was one moment where they were setting up a shot and she said to me, ‘Show me your hands when you sing. What do you do with your hands?’ I was like, ‘I guess they go like this…’ And I showed her. She was like, ‘No, put these fingers together and go like that.’ It was fantastic.”

More Liza: “When my show closed on Broadway last season, Liza was one of the first phone calls I got,” says Leslie Odom, Jr. “I didn’t recognize the phone number, it was a 917 number and I usually answer 917 and 323 numbers I don’t know because they might be a job. So I answered and it was Liza, calling to tell me that I was fantastic in the show and I should keep rolling with the punches. It was crazy. You can’t not love her.”

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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