The hills are alive with the sound of Fox executives cribbing from NBC’s playbook. After NBC’s The Sound Of Music Live! became a surprise ratings smash last year, Fox has ordered its own three-hour live musical for 2015. Whereas NBC went for the family-friendly Rodgers & Hammerstein and will stage an equally wholesome Peter Pan next December, Fox is perhaps aiming for a slightly younger market with a tale of high school love and terrible gender politics: Grease.
According to Fox executive Shana C. Waterman, the musical’s “iconic characters and addictive songs make it the perfect fit for Fox, and we’re going to give it the kind of star power and production quality to make every Sandy, Danny, Rizzo and Kenickie out there want to get up and sing along.” She’s referring, of course, to all of the little girls whose big dream is to slut themselves up for male approval and all the little boys who like to sing about getting “lots of tit” in their “pussy wagons.” (Yes, those are the lyrics you’ve been singing along to all these years.)
As with The Sound Of Music, Grease is best known thanks to a successful film; the 1978 Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta classic adapted the 1971 musical penned by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. The film removed some songs and added new ones—something The A.V. Club has discussed at length—and generally sanitized what started out as a somewhat raunchy satire. Revival productions have maintained that squeaky clean vibe and usually incorporate the film’s iconic additions, like “You’re The One That I Want.” It’s not immediately clear just what version of the show Fox will air or what songs will make the cut—for instance, viewers may hear the stage version’s “It’s Raining On Prom Night” instead of Sandy’s “Hopelessly Devoted To You.”
This announcement seems to be the culmination of the hitherto undiscussed rivalry between NBC and Fox to become the network home for musical theatre. NBC jumped on the bandwagon back in 2008 with a terrible reality show called Grease: You’re The One That I Want!, in which actors competed to play the two leads of the Broadway revival. The network took a wrong turn with Smash but course corrected with its surprise foray into live musical theatre. Fox, of course, still holds the phenomenally popular Glee—which has performed just about every song from Grease over the years and even had a subplot about the kids putting on the show. With all that musical experience under their belt, Fox execs can rest assured that whatever they put onscreen cannot be worse than the video below.
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