EXCLUSIVE: Primetime musical series are red-hot courtesy of Fox’s Glee, and ABC, whose sibling Disney Channel started the genre’s resurgence with High School Musical and Hannah Montana, is developing a couple of music-themed series for next fall. Leading the pack is a drama with musical elements from writer Bob Kushell (Samantha Who?) starring Tony winner Idina Menzel. Another one is a musical comedy from Robert Horn, who penned two Disney Channel movie musicals this year: the High School Musical-spinoff Sharpay Fabulous, starring Ashley Tisdale, and The Suite Life: The Movie.
Hot off her recurring role on Glee last season, Idina Menzel is headlining her own musical hourlong project, a mother-daughter relationship drama in the vein of Gilmore Girls. It will star the Broadway actress as the single mother of a teenager who, to make ends meet, waits tables and performs at weddings and bar mitzvahs, odd jobs that Menzel herself worked early on while pursuing a Broadway career. Kushell, who had been looking to do a musical series for the past 10 years, is writing the script for ABC Studios and will executive produce with David Knoller (Big Love). Menzel and her manager Heather Reynolds will serve as producers. Menzel, who originated the roles of Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway, earned Tony nominations for both and won for Wicked. She will make her New York Philharmonic debut on Feb. 5 and may also return to Glee, where she plays the mother of star Lea Michele, later this season. The ABC project was packaged by ICM; Menzel is managed by One Entertainment. This is one of 3 sales for Kushell this development season. He also has in the works a multi-camera comedy at NBC and an animated comedy at Fox.
The untitled Robert Horn project, from Sony TV, is described as a half-hour female-driven musical comedy. It is based on a concept by UTA-repped producers Lindy Ascher and Susan Cartsonis (Beastly) who will executive produce with Horn. Horn, who co-penned the Broaway musical 13, will write the script. Like Kushell, Horn, repped by CAA and the Shuman Co., has 2 more TV projects in the works: a half-hour at ABC Studios and a one-hour musical at ABC Family.