Jennifer Lopez to star in NBC's 'Bye Bye Birdie': Is live element key to success?

Live musical productions have become popular over the past few years for NBC, and Fox has tried it out, too. Fox's recent pre-taped 'Rocky Horror' production, however, was less of a success.

Rich Fury/Invision/AP/File
Jennifer Lopez arrives at the 'Shades of Blue' FYC Event at Saban Media Center on June 9, 2016, in Los Angeles.

NBC viewers will be saying hello to Conrad Birdie for the network’s next live musical, which will star Jennifer Lopez.

NBC has announced that its 2017 live musical production will be “Bye Bye Birdie,” which takes place during the 1950s and centers on an Elvis Presley-like singer visiting a small town in Ohio. Ms. Lopez is set to play Rosie, who is the secretary and girlfriend of musician Conrad Birdie’s manager, Albert.

NBC has made a tradition the past few years of airing a live musical production during the holidays, after garnering big ratings for its 2013 foray back into the medium, “The Sound of Music Live!” Last year’s “The Wiz Live!” also did well in the ratings, though no production since has yet topped “Music.” 

NBC is set to air “Hairspray Live!,” which will star Maddie Baillio, Harvey Fierstein, and Ariana Grande, on Dec. 7.

The productions have been enough of a success that one other network has gotten in on it, with Fox airing “Grease: Live” earlier this year. The ratings for the production were also a success for the network. 

One recent stumble in the musical TV department suggests that viewers are most intrigued by the live aspect of these productions. 

On Oct. 20, Fox aired a remake of the musical “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” starring Laverne Cox. Unlike its production of “Grease” and the NBC productions, however, the show was pre-taped. 

Ratings were lower than they were for "Grease," which Tony Maglio of TheWrap attributed to the non-live aspect of the show.

“There was less incentive to tune in the same way,” Mr. Maglio wrote. 

However, Variety writer Oriana Schwindt thinks other factors contributed to the production’s lower ratings. 

“Unlike musicals like ‘Grease’ and ‘The Wiz,’ ‘Rocky Horror’ has a far more niche (if far more passionate) fan base,” Ms. Schwindt wrote.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Jennifer Lopez to star in NBC's 'Bye Bye Birdie': Is live element key to success?
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/TV/2016/1028/Jennifer-Lopez-to-star-in-NBC-s-Bye-Bye-Birdie-Is-live-element-key-to-success
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe