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Parade

Debra Messing: 'I'm Ready to Laugh Again'

As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens, and that's certainly holding true for Debra Messing.

Smash, in which Messing stars as Broadway lyricist Julia Houston, has headed into its second season with disappointing ratings, and NBC has responded by moving the show from its choice Tuesday night time slot to a not-so-prime Saturday evening spot. The news doesn't bode well for the show's future, though no official announcement about whether Smash will return for a third season has been made yet.

Still, the warmhearted actress has plenty to look forward to. Not only will she sing her first solo on Smash this season, she has also signed on to film a pilot for a new sitcom on CBS, which begins shooting next week. Is she excited to get back into comedy? "I am," she said. "I'm ready to laugh again."

Messing, 44, talked to PARADE about Smash's uncertain future, her new sitcom, and winning the Outstanding Mother Award from the National Mother's Day Committee.

On Smash's move to Saturday nights.
"It's sad. I think that everyone involved in Smash has loved the concept and the world that we've been playing in, and we all wish that it performed better than it has. But it's the business of television. It's erratic and it's something you can't control at all. We still don't know what's going to happen, but we're all really proud of it."

On singing on Smash for the first time.
"This season, you're going to see Julia sing for the first time in her own solo. That was kind of a big deal for me. It was a little traumatizing. The bar was set incredibly high with the likes of Megan Hilty and Kat McPhee and everybody else, so I was a little intimidated. But I ended up having a ball and it was an exciting day. We ended up shooting in the Plaza Hotel and this beautiful bar, and they put smog and smoke in to make it look romantic and sexy. I'm pretty excited about how it turned out."

On what the mood on set was like amid the show's changes.
"When we were shooting, we wrapped right around the time that the third episode aired, so I don't think that any of us was really focusing on that. We were working round the clock, so I think we were sad to say goodbye but also excited to be able to sleep in and go outside and go to Central Park and enjoy the fresh air."

On feeling the support from the show's enthusiastic fan base.
"It's incredible. With social media, which I'm new to, relatively, it's incredible to be able to have that conversation with your fans. The fans of Smash are ardent. They're very passionate. It's gratifying when you're putting your heart and soul into something and working these crazy hours, and you're making people happy."

On who her favorite Smash guest stars were.
"Sean Hayes! I didn't actually get to act with him, but being around at the table read, that was a highlight. And Bernadette Peters was a thrill."

If Smash is cancelled, what she'll be most proud of.
"Bringing song and dance and the world of Broadway musicals into people's living rooms, who, for many different reasons don't have the ability or the access to the fantasy and the thrill that is Broadway musicals."

On the pilot she's filming.
"I have signed on to do a pilot for a half-hour comedy, and it shoots next week! It's in second position to Smash, so it all depends on whether or not Smash is coming back. But it's a comedy that is based on a successful show in Israel right now, and it follows a woman who is a mom and she works, and she tries to balance her whole life. You see her going through her life in Brooklyn and trying to survive. It's absolutely something that I identify with."

At the 2003 Emmy Awards wearing her favorite-ever red carpet dress.
On whether she still loves walking the red carpet.
"I never get tired of playing dress up. There is some anxiety going on the red carpet because the weather always plays a factor in whether or not you have a good time on the red carpet. The Emmys are notorious—they're in August, so it's brutally hot. The Golden Globes were ridiculously freezing. Throughout the year and the seasons, different award shows are more stressful than others."

On her favorite red carpet gown of her career.
"I have so many favorites, but I think the one that is most meaningful to me is the Elie Saab pink brocade I wore when I won my Best Actress Emmy, because I was nine weeks pregnant at the time and nobody knew!"

On winning the Outstanding Mother Award from the National Mother's Day Committee.
"I was overwhelmed. I really was. It's the job that I take most seriously in my life and I think it's the hardest job. Every day is a challenge and it's an honor to be recognized."

On being a mom who deals with spring allergies (Messing has partnered with Zyrtec allergy medicine).
"I'm a very busy woman. I'm a working mom. I want to be able to be the mom that I want to be. I want to be able to go out in Central Park and play with my son, who's very crazy active these days. I don't want to disappoint him and say 'I can't honey, because I'm not feeling well.' If I'm going out and promoting Smash or something, and I know I want to look the best I can. I know that if I take Zyrtec in the morning I don't have to worry about my eyes starting to drip and water and my face getting puffy and red."

On looking good while dealing with allergies.
"Before doing hair and makeup, I like to fill a bowl with ice and some aloe juice that you can get from the health food store really inexpensively, and get it as cold as possible. Then I just douse a washcloth with it and put it on my face for a minute or two and it just takes all the puffiness and redness down if you have any. It also wakes you up and makes you feel like, 'okay, my face is ready for makeup and I'm going to look good.'"

Watch the lyric video of "Broadway, Here I Come," from Smash:




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