BTN promises 12 live musicals in 5 years

Broadway TV Network, an ambitious pay-per-view operation that plans to deliver as many as 12 musical productions live from Broadway in the next five years, has set Sept. 10 as the date of its first presentation, a performance of the hit review “Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber & Stoller.”

Although the umbrella title of the project is “Live From Broadway: One Night Only,” the Sept. 10 showing will consist of an edited version of the last five performances of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” which BTN taped in January. Earlier this year, BTN also taped a few of the final performances of “Putting It Together,” the review made up of Stephen Sondheim songs and starring Carol Burnett.

BTN will produce a live preshow to air a half-hour before the “Smokey Joe’s” event. Preshow will feature celebrity guests, interviews with cast members and some general Broadway news. Called “On the Aisle at …,” it will go out free to the PPV channels, earmarked as a lure to get potential last-minute subscribers to pony up the $24.95 retail price to see “Smokey Joe’s,” directed by the Broadway veteran Jerry Zaks.

PPV players

BTN has signed deals with all the important distribs of PPV events, including In Demand, DirecTV, EchoStar and TVN/Cablevision Systems. BTN also has foreign PPV rights to “Smokey Joe’s.”

A BTN source said the first live musical event could be a performance of “Jekyll & Hyde,” starring David Hasselhoff. A spokesman for “Jekyll & Hyde” said the former “Baywatch” star has not yet signed.

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