'Smash': Katharine McPhee 'grateful' for how post-'American Idol' career has gone

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zap-photo-mcphee-nbc-smash-gallery-420.jpg Katharine McPhee is finding her Broadway dreams satisfied by her new television series ... at least for now.

The fifth-season "American Idol" runner-up plays a novice actress competing for the stage role of Marilyn Monroe on "Smash," NBC's new musical-drama series premiering Monday, Feb. 6. She says she's being asked often if making the show is fueling her own hopes of starring on the Great White Way.

"I studied musical theater in college for three semesters," McPhee tells Zap2it. "That was my major, so I love theater, but my goal has always been television and/or film. At this point, especially, this is like the best of both worlds. I'm on a TV show that's about Broadway, so I feel like I'm getting my fill.

"When -- I'm not going to say 'if,' because I know I will be on the stage one day -- when there comes a project that I feel is something really special and just interesting to me, I'll do it. I don't see it anytime soon, but maybe for some special event around the show."

McPhee admits spending a New York winter on location for "Smash" is a sizable adjustment for her. "There is no other place to be shooting this show," she allows. "It would make no sense to be anywhere else. I'm having a lot of fun, but the cold weather is definitely a challenge for me. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so I'm really, really spoiled.

"One of my dreams years ago, before I had a single credit on my resume, was to shoot in New York. I never would have thought, 'Oh, honey. Don't you worry. You'll be there 24/7.' Last night, I was in 14-degree weather ... but yes, I am enjoying shooting there."

Now a spokesperson for Malaria No More, with a trip to Africa planned for spring, McPhee says she hasn't had much time to keep up with "American Idol." Being immersed in "Smash" will give her even less when the FOX contest launches its 11th round Wednesday, Jan. 18.

"It was a great launching pad," she reflects, "and I've been focusing on my own endeavors. A few 'Idols' have had instant success, and I've had very steady success. I haven't won Oscars or Grammys, but I've been very fortunate. It's like anybody else's career; sometimes, things take time, and you keep plugging away.

"The media loves to pinpoint success or failure in a show like 'Idol' because, coming off the first season, there was such an instant success in Kelly Clarkson. But that's not the norm. Not everyone's career happens like that, and I'm really grateful for the way mine has gone. It's given me so much more drive, and it makes the 'ups' even sweeter, because you've had to work for them that much harder."
Photo/Video credit: NBC Universal