Fans will be waiting quite a while for Fox’s highly anticipated live adaptation of Broadway smash Rent, which is not expected to air until late in 2018, Fox Chairman and CEO Dana Walden said at the Television Critics Association’s press tour on Tuesday.
Marc Platt, who produced Grease Live! for the network and will be involved with A Christmas Story as well, will executive-produce the network’s live musical performance of Rent alongside the estate of Jonathan Larson, the writer and composer of the musical. That’s part of the reason for the delay as Platt is currently focused on A Christmas Story, which just announced Maya Rudolph in a leading role and will debut Sunday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. ET.
“Honestly, Marc has really been focusing on A Christmas Story; it’s a big production to mount,” Walden said at TCA. “He’s been working with Julie [Larson], and they’ve had some preliminary conversations, but haven’t gone out to any talent yet. Actually, we’ll probably think first about a director.”
Unfortunately, that means there’s no word on whether any of the original Broadway cast would be involved. A few of them are currently working at other networks — Anthony Rapp will next appear in CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery, while Jesse L. Martin is on The Flash — so that could prove difficult.
“I’m not 100 percent sure,” Walden said of getting original cast. “I know that the conversations Marc had are very much about celebrating the original and the legacy of Jonathan Larson, and whether that involves having one of the original cast members and incorporating that character into the narrative, I’m not sure yet, but I’d be excited about that.”
In the wake of ABC and NBC postponing live events for Little Mermaid and Bye Bye Birdie, respectively, Walden was also asked about the economic future of live events. “They’re just great platforms for a broadcast network,” Walden said. “I think if you can make a deal where it can become somewhat perennial, you can re-air it, it can go over to Fox Now, there are various multi-platform opportunities for a show like that. But for us, we’re just genuinely excited about the storytelling form, and when you can get an iconic piece of I.P. like Rent, that was probably the most exciting thing I worked on at the network, which is Grease: Live!, so we’re going to take those shots.”
The Grammy-, Tony-, and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, which made its Broadway debut in 1996, follows seven struggling artists pursuing their dreams during a time of political and social turmoil. Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs were also among the original cast members and appeared in the 2005 film adaptation.