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May 16, 2011 at 10:44 PM EDT

NBC knows what you’re all thinking: Smash is just a ripoff of Glee, right? Well, star Debra Messing has something to say about that. “I think Glee is extraordinary and original and fabulous,”  the Will & Grace actress told EW after NBC’s presentation to advertisers Monday. The drama will bow on the Peacock’s 2011-12 midseason schedule. “I think Smash is similar in that there is singing, but I think that’s where the similarities end. Glee is a comedy and ours is a drama. And Glee is in a fantastic sort of elevated world and Smash is completely naturalistic, a very real look at life in New York as an actor, producer, composer, lyricist, what have you.”

The drama, which also stars Anjelica Huston, Jack Davenport, and Katharine McPhee, is about a cross-section of characters who come together to put on a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe. Messing plays a lyricist who, together with her husband, are supposed to be taking a break from Broadway to adopt a baby when they get the idea for a musical.

“Glee does music that was already made, and we have original Broadway music being composed for us by a Tony-Award winning lyricist and composer,” Messing explained. “So every episode there will be a new song. It’s about the making of a musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. So the music will be focused on that project. There will be a reason for the song.

“I think that it’s so exciting,” she continued. “I think it looks so beautiful. It’s shot like a film. All the characters … there’s something universal about somebody who is unknown and has nothing and is trying to fulfill their dreams. It’s like Rocky. And, of course, to have these two magnificent voices, from Katharine [McPhee] and Megan [Hilty], I was levitating by the end of [the promo].”

Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.
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