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NBC Pushes ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ Live Musical to 2018

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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