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Motown — Busier Than Ever in 2019? TV Specials, Broadway Musicals Reload the Jukebox

"Ain't Too Proud" on Broadway and "Motown 60" on TV head up the multi-media mining of the Motown catalog.

Diana Ross performs during Motown 60:
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Motown has almost certainly never had more ancillary projects happening at once in the realms of TV and theater than it does in 2019. Among the offshoots keeping the catalog alive in multiple media:

— The Ken Ehrlich-produced “Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration” airs on CBS April 21, after being filmed while the stars aligned for Grammy week at L.A.’s Microsoft Theatre in February. Co-hosted by Smokey Robinson and Cedric the Entertainer, the salute will feature appearances by classic-era stars like Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Martha Reeves as well as the contemporary likes of John Legend, Pentatonix and Little Big Town.

— The bio-musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” looks like an instant Broadway hit, playing to 98% capacity and a weekly gross of $1.3 million upon its late March opening at the Imperial Theatre. It even got something most jukebox musicals wouldn’t even try begging for: a positive review from the Times’ Ben Brantley.

— An earlier Broadway show, “Motown: The Musical,” which ran from 2013-15 and had a brief revival in 2016, wraps up an even more successful three-year run on London’s West End April 20, at which point it’ll spend the year touring the UK.

— A Berry Gordy-produced documentary, “Hitsville: The Making of Motown,” is headed for Showtime.

— The Grammy Museum is premiering an exhibit, “Motown: The Sound of Young America,” at the LBJ Museum in Austin on April 13 The display, including artifacts that have never been seen at the Grammy Museum’s permanent installations, will tour other cities after exiting Austin next January.

— The gospel of Motown is being spread to preschoolers with the animated Netflix series “Motown Magic,” which was nominated this year for an NAACP Image Award for outstanding children’s show.