Hairspray live musical coming to NBC in December
Following the success of NBC’s live adaptation of The Wiz, the network’s next live musical will be Hairspray, network boss Robert Greenblatt announced at the Television Critics Association’s press tour on Wednesday.
“I’m happy to say that we are hopefully going to be produce a live new movie of Hairspray next December,” Greenblatt said, noting that The Wiz producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will return for the project. Though deals are not yet in place, a formal announcement is expected soon.
The production will follow NBC’s hugely successful The Wiz Live, 2013 hit A Sound of Music Live, and 2014’s comparatively disappointing Peter Pan Live. Zadan and Meron have been behind each of NBC’s previous live musical efforts.
Ratings-wise, The Wiz Live was seen by 11.1 million viewers and, more impressively, delivered a 3.3 among adults 18–49 in overnight ratings. Those numbers crushed Peter Pan Live, which had 9.2 million viewers and a soft 2.4 rating, but fell short of A Sound of Music Live, which had about 19 million viewers and a 4.6 rating.
Ahead of developing The Wiz last year, NBC had been weighing the potential between that project and doing the 1957 hit The Music Man — which some expected to potentially be the next musical after The Wiz.
“People have been saying to me since The Wiz, ‘Do this show, do that show,'” Greenblatt said. “I’ve heard obscure titles and famous titles. Not everything’s going to be a big name to the whole audience. I don’t think there’s an infinite number of these that can be done. But we’re still doing it.”
The first Hairspray film initially hit theaters in 1988. Written and directed by John Waters, the movie starred Ricki Lake and Debbie Harry. Hairspray then hit Broadway in 2002, followed by the 2007 film starring John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer, which was also produced by Zadan and Meron.
Casting for the musical has not yet been discussed, but “we have dream casting,” Greenblatt said, noting that they’re not necessarily trying to get actors from the 2007 film to come back. “I don’t think we’re going to try to replicate the movie. We want to do a new version of it.” Though, he wouldn’t turn his nose up if Travolta wanted to join the cast. “Sure, we’d take John Travolta. He did it. I don’t think that would be a possibility, but we’d be thrilled to have John Travolta.”