Craig Zadan was looking forward to Thespians Go Hollywood, the Educational Theatre Foundation's gala that was held on Sunday night. He and his producing partner Neil Meron were set to receive the inaugural Theater for Life Award, which supports theater programs in underserved schools. When Zadan unexpectedly died on Aug. 31 after complications of a shoulder replacement surgery, Meron suggested that the celebration become a tribute to Zadan.And what a tribute it was. With Broadway figures Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman serving...
Whether remaking “Brian’s Song” (2001) or “A Raisin in the Sun” (2008), Craig Zadan had a knack for knowing when the time is right to revive the classics, and that went not only for specific titles but whole genres.
With 2013’s “Sound of Music Live!” on NBC, Zadan and producing partner Neil Meron revived the live TV musical, a format that had been dormant for decades. That success sparked a large roster of stars across multiple productions for NBC, including 2014’s “Peter Pan Live!,” 2015’s “The Wiz Live!” and 2016’s “Hairspray Live!” Next up: NBC’s “Bye Bye Birdie” starring Jennifer Lopez for 2018.
“We’ve spoken to a lot of friends who are stars who could be great and they say to us, ‘Look, if you were doing a movie musical, and we could pre-record and lip-synch, sure. But live? So if we hit a bad note it’s there for posterity? We’re not going to go out there without a safety net.,’” Zadan told Variety in 2016. “There are lot of people who want to do these shows, but they don’t want to do them live.”
Zadan got his start producing the hit feature film “Footloose” in 1984. With Meron, Zadan produced the Oscars telecast from 2013 through 2015. He passed away on August 20, 2018.