Storyline, ABC to tap ‘Footloose’

Two-hour telepic could air as soon as next May

Let’s hear it for the Alphabet: ABC is moving forward with a new musical adaptation of Paramount’s 1984 smash pic “Footloose” via Craig Zadan and Neil Meron’s Storyline Entertainment.

Paramount Network Television, under the direction of longform topper Marshall Coben, obtained the rights to the project and will produce the new “Footloose.” Two-hour telepic could air on ABC as soon as next May.

Jim Fall and Jason Schafer, who worked together on the indie pic “Trick,” are closing in on a deal to adapt the screenplay for the project, which Fall would direct. Oscar winner Dean Pitchford — who co-exec produced and wrote the script and lyrics for the original feature — will serve as a co-exec producer and contribute original songs to the ABC production.

Meron and Zadan will exec produce, while Storyline’s Dave Mace is attached as a producer. It’s familiar territory for Zadan: He produced the original pic with Daniel Melnick.

ABC telepic execs Susan Lyne, Quinn Taylor and Joe DelHierro are supervising the new “Footloose” for the net.

Winning score

Songs from the 1984 Kevin Bacon-led pic’s bestselling soundtrack — such as the title theme “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” — will be featured in the new “Footloose.”

Unlike in the film, however, the characters will actually sing the songs.

“It won’t be a traditional break-into-song musical,” one insider close to the production said. “They will break into song, but it will be done in a whole new cinematic way. It’s a completely different take.”

ABC project will be based entirely on the feature pic and is not associated in any way with the 1998 legit tuner.

The first “Footloose,” which told the story of a teen’s fight to bring music to a small town, snagged two Oscar noms and helped launch the careers of thesps Bacon, Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Penn. Soundtrack spawned six top 40 singles.

Kicking up heels

Idea to revive “Footloose” has been kicking around for nearly three years but has only recently started to come together. It’s now on a fast track for production.

Storyline had hoped to have the Matthew Broderick-led “The Music Man” ready for sometime this season, but the success of Broderick’s Broadway smash “The Producers” pushed back production on “Music Man” until next March.

Zadan and Meron are also exec producing, with producers Marty Richards and Harvey Weinstein, Miramax’s feature adaptation of “Chicago.”

ABC, Par and Storyline, meanwhile, are teaming for a continuation of the “Grease” saga (Daily Variety, Sept. 4).

Pre-sold dance partners

Alphabet is high on projects such as “Footloose” and “Grease” — along with past smashes like “Annie” and “Cinderella” — in part because they’re pre-sold commodities, which makes them easier to market in an ever-more cluttered broadcast universe.

Most recently, Fall directed segs of the WB laffer “Grosse Pointe,” while Schafer has been a writer on Showtime’s “Queer as Folk.” Both are repped by UTA.

In addition to his work on “Footloose,” Pitchford won an Oscar and Golden Globe for penning the lyrics to the title song for “Fame.”

Storyline’s past successes for ABC include the musicals “Annie” and “Cinderella”; “The Beach Boys: An American Family”; and last season’s “Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.” “Garland,” produced with Alliance Atlantis, is up for 13 Emmys this month.

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