Getting Tim Curry, the original Frank-N-Furter, to participate in Fox’s remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show [watch trailer below] was critical to overcoming push-back by rabid fans of the 70’s musical comedy-horror cult film. “As you can imagine, when we announced we were doing this, there was tremendous backlash from fans,” EP Lou Adler said today at TCA. Adler also was an exec producer of the original movie.

Ryan McCarten Victoria Justice
Fox

When Curry became involved “that all loosened up and they became more interesting to them.” Producers also sought out participation of Sal Piro, head of the international Rocky Horror Picture Show fan club, to help get right the audience call-back bits. In a clip shown to critics, a made-for-TV audience responds to various moments of the production, emulating the movie theater experience.

Fox’s two-hour event, airing October 20, follows sweethearts Janet Weiss (Victoria Justice) and Brad Majors (Ryan McCartan), who stumble upon the residence of Frank-N-Furter (Laverne Cox), a mad scientist/alien, who is hosting a Transylvanian science convention to showcase Rocky Horror (Staz Nair), who has been created to fulfill Frank’s desires.

Lou Adler
Fox

Contrary to lore, there never was an audience call-back “script,”  Adler insisted. “Audience” moments used in the Fox production were “natural” extensions prompted by a line of dialogue or a visual in the story, he said.

Nonetheless, TV critics seemed bewildered the remake is not being presented live, given that popular current TV trend for musical productions, and the importance of audience participation to the original 70’s movie.

Curry, who plays Narrator in the remake, got asked if he gives the Fox version his “unconditional endorsement. “I do indeed,” he responded. He said he remembers “quite a lot” about making the original, it being his first movie role. “I didn’t miss much.” He said he offered himself to play Dr. Scott in the remake “because I was already in a wheelchair, but they thought Narrator was a better fit and I enjoyed it a lot.”

Asked what he thinks about Dr. Frank-N-Furter being his “enduring legacy” for millions, Curry joked, “There’s not a lot I can do about it.”

EP Gail Berman said a Rocky Horror Picture Show remake has been knocking around for a decade, and she first was made aware of it when it was brought to her in her capacity as programming chief at Fox network. EP Ken Ortega credits Laverne Cox with finally getting it done. “According to Fox it was one of the great screen tests that had ever come back to them,” he said. “She’s a force: five octave range,” and a dancer. “There was no Plan B” Ortega said, crediting Cox with giving the project its “raison d’etre.” Cox was not present at the Q&A.