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Cowell applies ‘Grease’ to ITV

Syco to co-produce reality talent show for British web

LONDON — Battling British web ITV1 hopes Simon Cowell can provide the answer to its summer ratings woes.

ITV, which earlier this week inked an exclusive three-year contract with Cowell worth a record £20 million ($38 million), has hired Cowell’s Syco TV to co-produce a new reality version of hit musical “Grease.”

In the show, members of the public will compete for the lead roles of Sandy Dumbrowski and Danny Zuko in a new production of “Grease” set for London’s West End.

In recent years, ITV1’s summer ratings have been decimated by the success of “Big Brother” on rival web Channel 4, but ITV hopes the new skein can turn the tide — and erase the memory of flop summer reality program “Celebrity Love Island.”

Cowell, who will not appear in the new show, said: “We’ve been thinking about making this program for years. ‘Grease’ in my opinion is the best musical of all time and I am incredibly excited to be given this opportunity.”

Duncan Gray, ITV’s controller of entertainment said: ” ‘Grease’ and ITV are a perfect fit — the hunt for the new Sandy and Danny to star in the world’s best known musical, produced by the crack team behind ‘The X Factor.’ ”

U.K. legit producer David Ian will be a judge on the show. He’ll produce the West End version of “Grease” alongside Paul Nicholas. The other co-producer is TalkbackThames.

The BBC announced Wednesday it was following up its fall hit “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” — in which it cast the lead in a West End production of “The Sound of Music” — with the search for a lead for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (Daily Variety, Dec. 21).

BBC Worldwide Prods. has already brought the “Maria” format to the U.S., where an upcoming Broadway production of “Grease” will cast its male and female leads via the NBC series “You’re the One That We Want,” premiering Jan. 7.

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