NBC is looking to bring back to broadcast television event musical programming with The Sound Of Music, a live broadcast of a new production of the original Broadway musical to be produced by Smash executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “There used to be a tradition of broadcasting musicals live back in the 1950s and we’re thrilled to do it once again with a musical that has been a family classic for five decades,” said NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt. “There is no more talented and creative producing team than Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to bring Rodgers and Hammerstein’s final — and most beloved — collaboration to network television in this groundbreaking live telecast.” Casting will begin immediately and an air date will be announced shortly.
Zadan noted that the intention is not “to produce a remake of the movie version of The Sound Of Music – that would be artistic blasphemy.” “What we want to do, instead, is to give audiences a completely fresh experience of this great Tony Award-winning stage musical in the form of a classic television event, combined with the spontaneity of a live performance. And all of the actors will be singing live; there will be no lip-synching to pre-recordings.” Based on the stage musical, the NBC telecast will feature all the classic Sound Of Music songs, including the title song, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, and My Favorite Things, “plus a few wonderful songs from the Broadway version that people are less familiar with,” said Meron.
At NBC, The Sound Of Music will join musical drama Smash, which is set on Broadway. While television’s early days consisted of all-live programming, entertainment shows rarely go live these days, with NBC’s 30 Rock a rare exception with two live episodes. (ABC’s Drew Carey Show also used to do live episodes.) The last live event production on TV I can think of is George Clooney’s restaging of Fail Safe for CBS in 2000.The Sound Of Music, set in pre-WWII Austria, is based on the romantic true story of Maria von Trapp, an aspiring nun who leaves the Abby to become a governess for the widower Captain von Trapp’s seven children and finds herself falling in love with her employer and questioning her religious calling. It premiered on Broadway in 1959, where it broke box office records and won the Tony Award for Best Musical.
In addition to their feature (Chicago, Hairspray), TV series (Smash, Drop Dead Diva) and Broadway (How To Succeed In Business) credits, Zadan and Meron were behind the last heyday of musicals on TV with such event movies Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, starring Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth; Annie, starring Kathy Bates, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, starring Whitney Houston and Brandy; and Gypsy, starring Bette Midler.