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.
Set for Easter Sunday (April 1, 2018), NBC will bring to broadcast television “Jesus Christ Superstar Live!,” a one-of-a-kind live staging of the iconic 1971 Broadway rock opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. The event will be executive produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Marc Platt, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
Fox is developing Cotton Club, a soapy music series based in the hottest club in Harlem in the Roaring ‘20s. It comes from former Empire co-executive producer Ayanna Floyd, who serves as showrunner; Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, producers of NBC’s live musical franchise; Broadway director Kenny Leon; and music executive LA Reid.
Cher is set to star in Flint, Lifetime’s original movie about the water-contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan. The Oscar winner also will executive produce the project, along with Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, and Katie Couric. Oscar-nominated director Bruce Beresford has been tapped to direct Flint, which has not been formally greenlighted yet but is expected to begin production in the spring. Sony TV is the studio.
NBC has set its next live musical — “Bye Bye Birdie,” with Jennifer Lopez on board to star.
Lopez will executive produce with Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and her company Nuyorican Productions will produce with Universal Television. Harvey Fierstein will write the television adaptation, with the special slated to air in December, 2017.
John Stamos has partnered with producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (The Wiz Live!) for a cable drama series chronicling 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, now in early stages of development, will be 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.
Hamilton cast member Ephraim Sykes and young School of Rock cast member Shahadi Wright Joseph are the latest actors announced to join NBC’s starry broadcast of Hairspray Live!
Sykes will star as Seaweed J. Stubbs with Wright set to portray Little Inez, NBC announced September 7.
Tony Award-winning Pippin star Andrea Martin will play overbearing mother Prudy Pingleton opposite pop star Ariana Grande (13, Scream Queens) as her daughter Penny Pingleton in NBC’s December live broadcast of Hairspray.
Hairspray also stars Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein recreating his Tony-winning Broadway role as Edna Turnblad, as well asKristin Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussle, Sean Hayes as Mr. Pinky, Rosie O’Donnell, as the gym teacher, Garrett Clayton as Link Larkin,Martin Short as Wilbur Turnblad, pop star Grande as Penny Pingleton, Derek Hough as TV host Corny Collins, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle and newcomer Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad.
Hairspray Live! will air December 7 at 8 PM.
Fierstein will provide a new teleplay, and Jerry Mitchell ( Kinky Boots, On Your Feet!) will serve as choreographer for the live production with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman ( Smash, Catch Me If You Can and Broadway’s upcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
Sean Hayes will play the role of Mr. Pinky, dress shop owner, in NBC’s holiday presentation of Hairspray Live! Rosie O’Donnell will play the gym teacher in the live adaptation of the 60’s set musical, producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan announced during the live holiday special’s TCA panel, happening now.
Dove Cameron, who plays Liv on Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie, and Teen Beach Movie‘s Garrett Clayton have joined the cast of Hairspray Live!, NBC’s live musical produced by Universal Television that will air December 7 from Los Angeles. She will play Amber Von Tussle and he is Link Larkin.
The singer-actress has joined the cast of Hairspray Live!, she announced on Twitter.
She will play the role of Penny Pingleton in the upcoming NBC live musical.
“Penny has been a dream role since Hairspray opened on Broadway,” tweeted Grande, who made her Broadway debut in the musical 13.