Robert Greenblatt, the NBC Entertainment chairman who is also one of the producers of Broadway Tony winner “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” has added oversight of NBCUniversal’s stage division to his portfolio of NBCU duties.
Universal Pictures president Jimmy Horowitz, who will continue to lead Universal Stage Prods., will now work with Greenblatt to expand the division’s focus to incorporate all NBCUniversal properties rather than just its film catalog.
The growth of Universal’s stage arm comes as Hollywood as a whole has begun to take an increasing interest in Broadway, spurred by the significant revenue a couple of major hits have minted for studios. Last month Disney Theatrical Prods.’ musical version of “The Lion King” became the top-grossing single title of all time (at $6.2 billion and counting), and Universal itself has seen the global success of Broadway’s “Wicked” turn the title into one of the studio’s most profitable properties.
With that kind of financial incentive to get more involved in the Broadway market, NBCU made a logical choice in tapping Greenblatt, who spearheaded NBC’s ratings resurgence last season. An independent theater producer as well as a TV exec, Greenblatt was the lead producer of the short-lived musical adaptation of “9 to 5” and was a longtime supporter of “Gentleman’s Guide,” for which he won a Tony as one of its producers. He’s currently attached to a revised version of Meredith Willson tuner “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” which recently premiered in Denver.
Greenblatt’s theatrical inclinations have also influenced his TV programming. Although backstage-Broadway series “Smash” proved a disappointment, last year’s live telecast of “The Sound of Music” packed a ratings wallop, and the network has high hopes of similar success for “Peter Pan.”
Along with “Wicked,” USP has had a hand in Broadway titles including “Billy Elliot” — which won 10 Tonys and is still running on the West End — and “Bring It On,” while also boarding the producing teams of recent revivals of “Porgy and Bess,” “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “The Best Man.” Current USP activities include the Bill Condon-helmed revival of “Side Show,” opening on Broadway later this fall, and smaller-scale musicals “Holiday Inn” and “October Sky,” both targeted toward regional, stock and amateur markets.
The expansion of USP’s focus beyond the Universal film catalog presumably opens up NBC’s wealth of well-known TV properties for potential stage adaptation.