Nellie Andreeva

Former Will & Grace star Debra Messing is returning to NBC as the female lead of  another series project set in New York where the male lead is a gay man.

Messing is finalizing a deal to star in NBC’s hourlong pilot Smash, an ambitious drama about the mounting of a Broadway musical, which was based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. The pilot, produced by DreamWorks TV and UMS, follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Marilyn Monroe musical on Broadway. At the heart of the show are the musical’s composer Tom, who is gay, and the lyricist Julia (Messing), who is somewhat against the idea of a Marilyn Monroe-themed musical.

TV writer/playwright Theresa Rebeck wrote the script for Smash and is executive producing with Spielberg, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey of DreamWorks TV, Hairspray producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron  and Grammy and Tony-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who will pen original songs for the show. Michael Mayer (American Idiot) is directing. This has been a passion project for new NBC chief Bob Greenblatt who first developed it at Showtime. But, despite its pay-cable origins, Smash is said to be a broad, broadcast-type show.

After the end of NBC’s Will & Grace, which earned Messing an Emmy, she toplined the USA Network mini-series/series The Starter Wife. Last season, the actress, repped by Gersh and 3 Arts, starred in and produced the ABC comedy pilot Wright vs. Wrong.

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