NEW YORK — Judd Nelson, Madchen Amick and singer Paula Abdul have been cast as leads in NBC’s upcoming biopic “Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Alan Freed Story.”
Nelson (“Suddenly Susan,” “The Breakfast Club”) will play Freed, the Cleveland deejay who helped popularize rock music in the U.S. during the 1950s and later got caught up in the payola scandals.
Pic begins production in Vancouver today and is skedded for broadcast Sunday, Oct. 17. Original versions of songs from the era, including “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” “A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” “Rock Around the Clock,” “Tutti Frutti” and “Peggy Sue,” will be used in the two-hour telefilm from von Zerneck/Sertner Films Prods.
NBC does not plan to release a soundtrack disc connected to the film, which will air less than a month before CBS bows a four-hour mini about the early years of rock, dubbed “Shake, Rattle & Roll.” Eye’s pic will feature new recordings of classic rock songs, and will be linked to a well-promoted soundtrack.
Amick (“Twin Peaks”) will play Freed’s wife. Abdul is set to play a “flirtatious, ambitious woman,” according to NBC. Leon (“The Temptations”) has been cast as Jackie Wilson.
Teen dreams Bobby Rydell and Fabian will make guest appearances in the pic, playing concerned dads worried about the impact of rock music on their kids.
Nelson’s previous telepic credits include “Cabin by the Lake” and “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes.” He also snagged a Golden Globe nom for his work in the NBC mini “Billionaire Boys Club.”
“Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll” is based on the book “Big Beat Heat: Alan Freed and the Early Years of Rock and Roll.” Andy Wolk (“The Sopranos”) will direct from a teleplay by Matt Dorff (“Choices of the Heart.”)