Just a few weeks after the Disney Company roared that The Lion King had become the highest-grossing entertainment of all time, NBCUniversal today announced that Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, will oversee the company’s live-theater division, Universal Stage Productions. Jimmy Horowitz, Universal Pictures President, will “continue to run” USP, while expanding its reach into NBCUni properties throughout film, TV and digital.
Chris Herzberger, Universal’s Executive of Live Theatricals, will continue in that position as hands-on with works in progress and a growing roster of developmental projects.
The company is not exactly a carpetbagger on Broadway, with a major stake in the long-running Wicked, a global box office phenomenon. Greenblatt is a producer of the most recent Tony Best Musical, A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder and of a “revisal” of Meredith Willson’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown at the Denver Center Theatre Company. The company has a producing stake in the upcoming revival of Side Show, staged by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) and opening November 17 at the St. James Theatre. It’s also involved in Holiday Inn at Connecticut’s Goodspeed Opera House, which is being overseen by Herzberger. And the division is prepping the December 4 live telecast of Peter Pan, starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken.
The 2000s have seen a significant return of Hollywood studio interest in Broadway as musicals that click have become cash cows in an ever-growing global environment. The Lion King surpassed The Phantom Of The Opera this summer with grosses exceeding $6.2 billion. USP was created in 2003 and has been involved in the musical adaptation of Billy Elliot, still running in the West End, and the recent, Tony-winning Broadway revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy And Bess.