Most stories about NBC’s Smash can’t help but mention Fox’s groundbreaking Glee, but the producer of the upcoming musical drama says there’s little reason to compare the two.

Smash executive producer Craig Zadan, who has a long track record of producing musical projects, pointed out at NBC’s press tour presentation that Glee and Smash actually both owe each other some credit — even while noting they’re nothing alike.

“When we did Gypsy with Bette Milder, it sort of opened the door for TV musicals,” Zaden said, referring to a 1993 TV movie that aired on CBS. “When Ryan Murphy did Glee, he broke a great barrier. He helped allow networks to believe a show can [combine music and drama]. I don’t think any of us feel our show is like Glee, but we feel grateful to Glee for opening that door.”

Smash tracks the creation of a Broadway musical about the life of Marylin Monroe, and all the behind-the-scenes drama and backstabbing that go along with it. The pilot is creatively strong and Smash is considered NBC’s best hope for some ratings salvation this season (though the network’s entertainment chief tried to take some of that pressure off this morning). NBC plans to hold public preview screenings of the show’s pilot in 10 cities and release the show’s original songs on iTunes the same week each episode airs.

Creator Theresa Rebeck revealed the 15-episode season will conclude with the show’s first public performance at an off-off Broadway location. If the show receives a second season, the drama will focus on the musical going to Broadway. The show premieres Monday, Feb. 6 after The Voice.

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