NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt just made the announcement at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills. This will be NBC’s fifth consecutive live musical, following The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz, and the upcoming Hairspray.
Lopez also will executive produce the live presentation, with Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Universal Television will produce with Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions, Storyline and Sony Pictures Television.
Harvey Fierstein is writing the teleplay adaptation. NBC’s Bye Bye Birdie Live! will be based on the 1960 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that starred Dick Van Dyke as Albert Peterson (earning Van Dyke a Tony) and Chita Rivera as Rosie (earning Rivera a Tony nomination). The book was by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams and music by Charles Strouse.
Greenblatt said Lopez brought the idea to him, noting she performs a number from Birdie in her Vegas show. “She came to us and said, ‘I love the show..I love this movie’.”
The 1963 film adaptation starred Van Dyke and Janet Leigh, and catapulted newcomer Ann-Margret to stardom in the role of Birdie-obsessed teen Kim MacAfee.
Set at the height of rock ’n’ roll, Bye Bye Birdie is set in Sweet Apple, Ohio, where hip-thrusting music heartthrob Conrad Birdie is scheduled to give a lucky Sweet Apple lady “One Last Kiss” before being drafted into the Army. Conrad’s rock ’n’ roll ways give the local teens a bad case of Birdie fever, shocks their parents, and puts songwriter/agent Peterson along with his savvy sweetheart, Rosie, in the thick of it. The story was inspired by Elvis Presley mania, and his 1957 induction into the Army.
Last January, Greenblatt announced NBC’s 2016 live holiday musical would be Hairspray, with Zadan and Meron, the EP’s behind the annual franchise, returning. Zadan and Meron also produced the 2007 Hairspray movie.
NBC’s live holiday musicals have become a ratings staple for the network, launching in 2013 when nearly 19M tuned in to The Sound of Music Live!. More recently, The Wiz Live! logged an average of nearly 12M.
Like with The Sound of Music, which starred Carrie Underwood whose popularity contributed to the special’s big ratings, Bye Bye Birdie is being fronted by a top music star.
Lopez stars in NBC’s Shades of Blue, which will begin its second season in 2017. She’s currently is in residence with 40 shows a year at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas; her show, “Jennifer Lopez: All I Have” launched in January. Lopez also is signed to judge and EP NBC’s upcoming reality series World of Dance.