News Column

Hollywood Notebook: 'Smash' a hit for Megan Hilty

May 20, 2013


May 20--It wasn't a shock when NBC announced there would be no third act for "Smash," canceling it after only two seasons. Once original episodes moved to Saturday, it was clear the end was near. If you want to see what will now be the series finale, it will air at 9 p.m. Saturday on KSEE (Channel 24.1).

My favorite thing out of the two seasons was getting to see and hear Megan Hilty, who plays Ivy Lynn. I never got to see her stage work in "Wicked" or "9 to 5: The Musical," but I feel lucky to have been introduced to her through the TV series. When I ran into Hilty at an NBC party, I told her that there are three female artists who give me goosebumps when I hear them sing -- Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenowith and her.

After thanking me for the compliment, we talked about TV, how tough it is to work on Broadway and her new album.

Although "Smash" won't go on, the two years on the show did have a big impact on Hilty's stage career. She says the TV show has opened up doors for her that wouldn't have happened without that exposure.

"All my life, doing these workshops and readings, I've been told how much I was right for a role but they were looking for a star. That's just the way it goes. These Broadway tickets cost a lot of money and you have to have some kind of draw, something people are familiar with, that people want to see," she says.

That's why Hilty wanted to get into television.

"Smash" is about a battle between actresses -- played by Hilty and Katharine McPhee -- to land the role of Marilyn Monroe in the the musical "Bombshell." From the start, it was no contest: Hilty was born to play Marilyn.

There had been some buzz that "Bombshell" would actually open on Broadway. The early demise might change those plans.

As for Hilty's post-"Smash" work, her new album, "It Happens All the Time," is a mix of new and old pop tunes. Hilty had never released such an album. But after covering pop tunes while on "Smash," she decided to put together the album.

-- The winner of this season's "Celebrity Apprentice" was announced Sunday, with magician Penn Jillette losing out to musician Trace Adkins.

The outcome really wasn't the most important thing about the reality competition show for the country singer. Win or lose, Adkins said before the show started that he was happy just to have been on the show twice. He's convinced that it has introduced him to people who weren't fans of his music.

"They like the way I represented myself on the show and that made them start listening to my music," Adkins tells me during an NBC party. It's loud in the hotel lounge, but Adkins has the kind of deep voice that can be easily heard. "I have people who come up to me in airports, and the TV show is the only place they know me from.

"There's been nothing but positives that have come from my association with 'Celebrity Apprentice.' There are some detractors and critics out there who think all reality TV is a bunch of (expletive deleted). Put me in that category also, because most of it is useless, wasted time. But, this one, to me, has a shred of nobility about it because of the charitable aspect. That's the only reason I will lend my name to it."

Adkins was playing for the American Red Cross.

When I talked with Adkins in January, all of the "Celebrity Apprentice" episodes had been filmed. He wouldn't talk about what happened on the show, but he had a lot to say about what happened after the filming was done. Adkins told his team that he wanted to take a long break and that he would call them when he was ready to get back to work.

He did have a big project to keep him busy at home: Adkins' house was destroyed in a fire in June 2011 and still hadn't been rebuilt.

-- Guy Pearce has starred in small, independent and big summer movies, going from 2000's brain-twisting "Memento" to this summer's blockbuster "Iron Man 3."

Although the comic book-inspired film comes with all the bells and whistle of a Marvel Comics film, Pearce tackled the part of Iron Man's foe, Aldrich Killian, like any other job.

"In the end, lots of films kind of feel the same once you're standing there in front of the camera, and you're just trying to be convincing and do what you need to do," says Pearce. "I think every film you do feels very different from the last film that you've done. I didn't sort of think, 'Oh, wow, this whole Marvel universe feels extremely different to anything else that I've done.'

"Obviously, we were really aware of the visual effects that were going on behind the scenes. There were literally sort of rows of people sitting behind us at the monitors with laptop computers, kind of mocking up versions of what things were gonna look like. That doesn't often happen on a $2 million dollar Australian movie."

His character wasn't in the previous two "Iron Man" movies, but Pearce admired the quality of those two movies so much that he didn't want to do anything to mess up the latest effort. He took a lot of his cues from series star Robert Downey Jr.

"Working with Robert is something quite specific because he's the genius that he is," he says. "He's a lot of fun. He likes to improvise."


TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at


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