ABC Taps Songwriting Heavyweights For Musical Comedy Project

EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken and Oscar-nominated lyricist David Zippel have teamed with veteran comedy writer Marco Pennette  for a musical comedy set up at ABC. The network is making a big effort to launch a musical series next season with 3 such projects in development.

The untitled Menken/Zippel/Pennette project is probably the most ambitious of the 3 as it would feature 2-3 original songs in every episode. Loosely based on Menken’s daughter, it is described as St. Elmo’s Fire meets Rent and centers on a young female musician living with other musicians as they try to make their way into the world. Menken, Zippel and Pennette co-created the project, which would feature the characters break into songs as well as set pieces. The trio will executive produce the show, which was packaged by UTA. Pennette is writing the script, with ABC Studios producing. At ABC, the Menken/Zippel/Pennette comedy is joining two other music-themed projects in development: a drama with musical elements from writer Bob Kushell   starring Tony winner Idina Menzel, and a musical comedy from Sharpay Fabulous writer Robert Horn.

Menken’s extensive work on Disney family movies has netted him 18 Oscar nominations and 8 wins, two each for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladin and Pocahontas. He is back in awards contention this year with Disney’s newest animated movie, Tangled. Zippel, also a frequent Disney collaborator, has 2 Oscar noms, including one shared with Menken for the Go the Distance song from Hercules. He also wrote the lyrics for the Tony-winning musical City of Angels. Pennette has strong ties with ABC. He serves as a co-executive producer on veteran dramedy Desperate Housewives. Before that, he was an executive producer on the network’s Ugly Betty, a consulting producer on the comedy Samantha Who? and co-created with Chris Henchy the ABC comedy series I’m with Her.

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