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Watch Craig and Neil’s interview with Pete Hammond’s “Behind the Lens” at Deadline:
Neil Meron & Craig Zadan On ‘Jesus Christ Superstar!’, Reviving Live TV Musicals And Making The Oscars Work – Behind The Lens
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are one of the top producing teams in show business with a vibrant career covering all the bases from movies (Chicago, Hairspray, Footloose, The Bucket List) to Broadway (revivals of Promises Promises, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying) and television. where they have become the go-to team for the new craze of live musicals that began with their ratings smash The Sound of Music, and followed by Peter Pan, Hairspray Live!, The Wiz Live! and upcoming next spring Hair Live!. This past Easter the guests of this week’s Deadline video series Behind the Lens had perhaps their biggest critical success in the genre to date with the concert staging of Jesus Christ Superstar! which aired to great success on NBC.
“Hair” will be NBC’s next live musical, the broadcaster announced Thursday.
Coming on the heels of the critically-acclaimed NBC live staging of “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Easter Sunday, “Hair Live” is currently slated to air in spring 2019. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who have executive produced each of NBC’s live musicals since “The Sound of Music,” will executive produce the telecast.
“Jesus Christ Superstar Live” carried NBC to a win in the Nielsen overnight ratings on Easter Sunday.
Airing from 8-10:23 p.m., “Jesus Christ Superstar Live” drew a 1.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 9.4 million viewers. NBC’s last live musical, “Hairspray Live,” drew a 2.3 rating in adults 18-49 and 9 million viewers back in December 2016. It is also up slightly over Fox’s live version of the religious-themed “The Passion” musical from March 2016, which drew a 1.6 and 6.6 million viewers. However, as “Jesus Christ Superstar” ended at 10:23 p.m., its initial numbers will be subject to adjustment later today.
A conceptual and artistic triumph, NBC’s live telecast of “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Easter Sunday may have finally justified the recent live musical fad on network TV. Some technical flubs and one mixed-bag lead performance aside, the production was genuinely thrilling, taking chances with the staging of a classic but controversial Broadway show, much more daring than previous live musical broadcasts like “The Sound of Music” or “Peter Pan.”
Fox 2000 emerged from a bidding battle that resulted in a substantial seven-figure deal for an untitled original musical fantasy about Hans Christian Andersen. It’s the first original musical from composter/lyricist Stephen Schwartz since Wicked, and it will be scripted by David Magee, the Life of Pi scribe whose latest is the Rob Marshall-directed Mary Poppins Returns which Disney releases Christmas Day. The film will be produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the team behind Chicago and the upcoming Jesus Christ Superstar Live! which they are producing with Marc Platt. Schwartz will also be producer. Magee is exec producer with Mark Nicholson, who runs development and production for Zadan/Meron Productions.
Jordan Peele’s Get Out and James Ivory’s Call Me By Your Name won the marquee film awards tonight at the 70th annual WGA Awards, in concurrent shows in New York and Los Angeles. It puts both screenplays on the frontrunner list for the Oscars.
On the TV side, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale won twice – in the Best Drama category and for New Series, joining drama series wins for the Emmys and the Globes, while HBO’s Veep won Best Comedy. Last year, FX’s Atlanta pulled off the double-win feat too, taking Comedy and New Series.
The winners of the 49th NAACP Image Awards in the non-televised categories were announced tonight during a gala dinner celebration at the Pasadena Conference Center. Winners of the evening included Jordan Peele’s Get Out as well as Tiffany Haddish for her breakout role in Girls Trip and Idris Elba for his role the Marvel Studios blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok.
Hosted by The Real’s Adrienne Houghton, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai, and Tamera Mowry-Housley, winners for a whopping 47 categories were announced, honoring outstanding representations and achievements of people of color in motion pictures, television, music, and literature. Winners for the remaining nine categories and the prestigious Entertainer of the Year award will be announced at 9 PM, Monday Jan. 15 during the live TV One telecast of the 49th NAACP Image Awards hosted by Anthony Anderson.
When shooting began for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” in July of 1997, the closest Disney had come to showcasing a black princess were the muses from “Hercules.” In fact, it would be another 12 years before an (animated) black girl got the lead in “The Princess and the Frog.” But megastar Whitney Houston didn’t want to wait. Instead, the Grammy and Emmy Award-winning artist set out to make a diverse, multicultural “Cinderella,” starring a young Brandy Norwood — who would become Disney’s first black princess.
Remaking “Cinderella” had been on Houston’s mind for years; long before any footage was shot, before glass slippers were fitted, before anyone thought that Cinderella could have microbraids. Houston and her co-producers knew how important it was for each modern generation to have their own “Cinderella” — and for many young black girls growing up in the 90s, Brandy was ours.
In a competitive situation, ABC has landed The Real Fairy Godmother, a single-camera comedy starring Kristin Chenoweth and executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, which has received a put pilot commitment.
Written by Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner, with ‘Til Death creators Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith serving as showrunners, The Real Fairy Godmothercenters on a self-absorbed “real housewife” (Chenoweth) who learns that she’s descended from a secret order of Fairy Godmothers and has an inescapable destiny to use her magical abilities to help those in need. As she begrudgingly executes her assigned weekly FGM missions, she slowly begins to realize just how superficial and morally bankrupt her actual life is and — to the confusion of her dysfunctional family and friends — tries to get them all to be better people. More
In a competitive situation, Amazon has landed for development a drama series project from John Stamos and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Hairspray Live), which chronicles the fame and excess of daytime soaps in the 1980s. Universal TV, where Zadan and Meron are under a deal for series and live events, is the studio.
The untitled drama, originally set up at Uni TV a year ago, is inspired by the experiences of Stamos, whose acting career was launched in 1982 when, at the age of 18, he landed the role of Blackie Parrish on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital.
Fox has given a script commitment plus penalty to hourlong semi-autobiographical hip-hop dance drama Take It From The Top (working title) from top choreographer Fatima Robinson, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and Universal Television.
Written by NCIS: LA co-executive producer Joe Wilson and Abdul Williams, who penned BET’s highly-rated The New Edition Story, Take It From The Top is inspired by Robinson’s life as a dancer-turned-choreographer and is set in 1990s Los Angeles just as hip-hop dance begins to dominate pop culture. From the streets and clubs that gave birth to hip-hop dance, the show follows Fatima and her crew as she rises in this exploding new world set against her stifling family obligations and personal life.
HBO is developing a biopic of pioneering African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux that has Tyler Perry on board to star.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are shepherding the project for Sony Pictures TV through their Storyline Entertainment banner. Perry is set to executive produce with Zadan and Meron but does not plan to direct.