NBC Pushes ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ Live Musical to 2018

Jennifer Lopez
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NBC has delayed its plan produce “Bye Bye Birdie” toplined by Jennifer Lopez as live musical until next year.

The tuner had been set to air as NBC’s holiday musical event this year. The decision to push it a year was driven by Lopez’s overflowing schedule, which includes two series for NBC, “World of Dance” and the drama “Shades of Blue.”

The postponement of “Birdie” means NBC will not stage a musical event this holiday season. Earlier this month, NBC unveiled plans for a “Jesus Christ Superstar Live” event to air on Easter Sunday next year. That project will be shepherded by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the pair behind all of NBC’s live musical events to date. Given the high cost of the one-night-only live events, it was unlikely that NBC could field “Superstar” just a few months after staging “Birdie,” had the show stayed on its original date, and also deliver a holiday musical for 2018.

NBC emphasized that it remains committed to producing “Bye Bye Birdie” but network execs didn’t want to be in a position of having to rush rehearsals and production around Lopez’s schedule. She’s serving as a judge and exec producer on the reality series “World of Dance,” which premieres May 30. “Shades of Blue” will begin production on its third season this summer. The multihyphenate  is also committed to her concert residency at Planet Hollywood in Vegas that runs through early June and resumes in September and October. Furthermore, Lopez is juggling several movie projects in various stages of development.

“Birdie” had lined up Harvey Fierstein to write the teleplay and Jerry Mitchell and Alex Rudzinski as directors. Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions is on board to produce with Sony Pictures TV and Zadan and Meron’s Storyline Entertainment banner. Fierstein was a writer and co-star of NBC’s most recent live tuner, “Hairspray Live!,” which aired in December.

Zadan and Meron are also working on a live staging of Aaron Sorkin’s play “A Few Good Men” for NBC. That project was pushed from its initial target premiere date this year because of difficulties in casting the lead roles and by Sorkin’s film schedule.

NBC kicked off the mania for live TV adaptations of stage shows in December 2013 with its “Sound of Music Live” production that shocked the biz by becoming an event that grabbed nearly 20 million viewers. NBC has made it a holiday-season tradition for the past four years with stagings of tuners “Peter Pan” (2014) “The Wiz” (2015) and most recently, “Hairspray” (2016).

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  1. Eric says:

    It’ll be interesting to see what NBC, Fox, and ABC have planned for future live musicals.

    NBC: I could see new adaptations of Mamma Mia, Les Misérables, and Cats. Maybe a new adaptation of Cry-Baby.

    Fox: Would love to see Dreamgirls and Little Shop of Horrors in their line-up.

    ABC: I could see new adaptations of The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Polar Express, before tackling Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty & the Beast, and other Disney collection musicals. Maybe them acquiring Avenue Q.

    These are some ideas.

  2. macd says:

    Jennifer Lopez in “Bye Bye Birdie” is a disaster waiting to happen. Cancel it! Pick a project to display Derek Hough’s extraordinary talents. Since Harvey Weinstein has abandoned his heavily promoted Broadway production of “Singin’ in the Rain” with Mr. Hough in the lead, why not do “SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN LIVE”? Young Mr. Hough (a two-time Emmy winner) appeals to all age groups, and the ratings should go thru the roof. Too many of NBC’s “live” musicals have been ruined by miscasting so don’t let Zac Efron or Hough’s sister Julianne near this project. Hire talented unknowns for the other two leads (and Kristen Chenowith would be perfect as Lina Lamont!).

  3. Concerned says:

    Coincidence that this comes the day after that horrific Dirty Dancing bomb over at ABC?

  4. George Lewis says:

    With Jennifer Lopez: I watch it. Without Jennifer Lopez: chances are I’d pass.

  5. Haz says:

    Why not just do it without Lopez? I’m not trying to be mean but I don’t think she will lead the show to record breaking ratings.

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