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Beth Williams

Job description: President of prduction, Clear Channel North America

Breakthrough: Helped shepherd the highly anticipated “Sweet Smell of Success” to Broadway.

In the works: Has joined with other producer teams on plans to bring “Hairspray” and “An American in Paris” to the Great White Way

Two weeks ago, the long-gestating musical “Sweet Smell of Success” finally went into rehearsals in Gotham, with its Broadway preem now set for March 14.

“It has been a huge job, which is why I’m almost giddy about going into rehearsals,” says Beth Williams, Clear Channel’s recently appointed president of production in North America.

The new musical by Marvin Hamlisch, Craig Carnelia and John Guare came to SFX, now Clear Channel, when Livent went belly up two years ago. Williams, then a VP, took over as executive producer of “Sweet Smell” on behalf of the company, negotiating and renegotiating a morass of dangling rights.

Since then, Williams’ production division at Clear Channel has radically expanded its slate of shows, with 16 now in varying stages of development.

Last year, Williams set up Clear Channel’s young-artists program. Eighteen months later, Richard Oberacker and Michael Lazar’s “The Gospel According to Fishman,” about the 1960s civil-rights movement, is the first work to come through that developmental program.

Apparently, there are many more musicals to come: Williams is ready to close movie-to-stage deals on three MGM film titles. And she and husband Allan Williams are producers of the new tuner “Rhythm Club.”

Williams believes in a mix of original and pic-inspired tuners. “I wish I’d been working in the 1960s when there were first-run movie musicals,” she says. “My dream is that there will be a return to movie musicals. That said, there is something about a live audience and a stage musical that is the essence of live theater.”

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