By Kenneth Jones
Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, of “Dreamgirls” movie fame, will play a Tony Award-winning Broadway star in a multi-episode arc in the second season of the NBC-TV musical series “Smash.” The casting was announced by Universal on June 22.
Shooting for the hourlong series’ next chapter begins this summer in and around New York City. It will return to the NBC schedule in mid-season, in the winter. Jeremy Jordan, a 2012 Tony nominee for Broadway’s Newsies, was previously announced the join the cast in season two.
Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy-winning actress-singer Hudson will make her first appearance in the second season’s first episode. Hudson will play Veronica Moore, a Broadway star “who impacts the lives” of Broadway newbie Karen (Katharine McPhee) and veteran chorus girl Ivy (Megan Hilty), according to the producers.
“We’re thrilled to have Jennifer Hudson coming to ‘Smash,'” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, in a statement. “This series is a showcase for some of the best musical talent in the business and that’s a fitting description for Jennifer Hudson. Her character will represent someone who reached their Broadway dream but also paid a price for it.”
Executive producer Steven Spielberg added, “First ‘Dreamgirls,’ now ‘Smash.’ I have no doubt Jennifer will continue to deliver even more inspiration to the audience responsible for giving us a second season on NBC. It’s wonderful to be reunited with her at DreamWorks Television and NBC.”
Hudson, who first came to national prominence as a contestant on the TV talent competition “American Idol,” won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing R&B comeback queen Effie White in the film adaptation of “Dreamgirls” in 2006. She also won a Golden Globe Award for the film.
Hudson’s other film credits include “Sex and the City” and “The Secret Life of Bees.” She won a Grammy for her self-titled debut album, which spawned the single “Spotlight.” Her next album, “I Remember Me,” debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 and R&B Albums charts and has since been certified gold in the U.S. She recently received a 2012 Billboard Music Award nomination for Top R&B Album and also collaborated with Ne-Yo and Rick Ross on the title track for the film “Think Like a Man.”
Hudson is the author of the memoir “I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down.” She is working on two new films, “Lullaby” and “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete.”
“Smash,” the scripted musical drama series about the makers of a new Broadway musical, will again star Emmy Award winner Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”), Oscar winner Anjelica Huston (“Prizzi’s Honor”), Jack Davenport (“Pirates of the Caribbean” films), 2012 Tony Award winner Christian Borle (Peter and the Starcatcher), Katharine McPhee (“American Idol”), Megan Hilty (9 to 5: The Musical) and 2012 Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan (Newsies).
From Universal Television in association with DreamWorks Television, “Smash” came from an idea of executive producer and multiple Emmy and Oscar winner Spielberg (“ER,” “Schindler’s List”). The series’ executive producers also include Joshua Safran (“Gossip Girl”), who is new to the second season; Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Oscar-winning “Chicago,” “Hairspray” and Broadway’s recent Promises, Promises and How to Succeed…); Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey (“United States of Tara,” “The Borgias”); Tony and Grammy Award winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (songwriters of Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can), who pen the series’ original songs; and Theresa Rebeck (Broadway’s Mauritius and Mauritis, “NYPD Blue”).