It's been 6 years since Katharine McPhee fell runner-up to Taylor Hicks on American Idol.  She's struggled as a major label recording artist, but a lead role in the highly anticipated TV musical drama 'Smash' could put her back to center stage.

'Smash' is the brainchild of Steven Spielberg.  The director became instantly captivated by McPhee's spellbinding vocals while competing on American Idol, that he personally chose her for in his TV production of the making of a Broadway musical.  Spielberg had 'McPhever', and cast Katharine as Karen Cartwright, a struggling New York waitress waiting for her big break on the great white way.  'Smash' follows two hopeful actresses as they compete to star a major stage production based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.  Once signed to Showtime, the project was shelved for years before being picked up by the big wigs at NBC.

That delay could have meant the end of Kat McPhee.  A string of unsuccessful albums (and an attempted image reinvention in which she chopped off all her signature brunette locks and dyed them platinum blonde) meant her singing career was in jeopardy.  But a small bit part in the 2008 movie comedy 'The House Bunny' showed that McPhee could do more than just belt out a high note.  'Smash' will give her the opportunity to do both when it premieres the Monday after the SuperBowl on NBC.

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