Fox Doesn’t Pay Rent; NBC Pulls Hair

 

It’s Maria Von Trapp, Y’all. Carrie Underwood in The Sound of Music (NBC)

Back in 2013, the executives at NBC decided to hark back to an earlier time in the network’s history and stage a live musical. While the post-show reviews were mixed, The Sound of Music did well, pulling in 18.6M viewers.

Much of the viewership was driven by its lead, country music star Carrie Underwood. Much of the criticism was driven by its star, country music star Carrie Underwood, who had little acting experience and big shoes to fill. Still, all of the broadcast networks except CBS decided to board the musical train.

The problem is the train seems to be losing steam. The most recent attempt was Fox’s version of Rent Live! which turned into Rent Taped! after one of the performers, Brennin Hunt managed to break his foot during the final dress rehearsal the night before air.

That probably had little effect on the ratings, though. The play, inspired by Puccini’s La Bohème, updated and set “amid poverty, homelessness, spunky gay life, drag queens and punk” in the East Village of New York, was a hit on Broadway but not so much west of the Hudson. A 2005 film made by Columbia Pictures only recouped $31M of its $40M budget. Could Fox executives really be surprised at the dismal 1.4 Nielsen rating?

Almost immediately NBC announced it was shelving its next planned event, a staging of 1967’s Hair. (Its 1979 filming returned a modest $4M.) Somehow, even in a time when all of television seems to be obliged to take political or cultural swipes at traditional values, a play featuring nudity and a song called “Sodomy” seems a bit of a stretch and an unneeded risk.

Source: The Nielsen Corporation

For its part, ABC bailed on a planned adaptation of parent-company Disney’s The Little Mermaid. With the right casting that could have rivaled The Sound of Music in the top spot, but Disney decided to take its cartoon-cum-Broadway hit back to the big screen instead.

In a press release, NBC executives Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks were quoted as saying, “Live musicals are a part of this network’s DNA and we are committed to continuing that tradition with the right show at the right time.” They would probably be advised to return to their original plan, family-friendly classics with stars that appeal outside of the boardrooms of New York and Los Angeles. But everything needs to “make a statement” in today’s woke culture. The culture may be woke, but a lot a people are sleeping through the televised version of it.

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There are 46 comments.

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  1. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    Did anyone see A Christmas Story Live!!? The Diversity casting just takes you out of the show. The story is set in 1950’s Indiana, the demographic make up of a suburban town back then wasn’t so diverse. They had a black neighbor, an Asian neighbor, a Hispanic neighbor. It’s annoying and you end up focusing on that because it is unrealistic, rather then the show.

     

    • #31
  2. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Mate De (View Comment):

    Did anyone see A Christmas Story Live!!? The Diversity casting just takes you out of the show. The story is set in 1950’s Indiana, the demographic make up of a suburban town back then wasn’t so diverse. They had a black neighbor, an Asian neighbor, a Hispanic neighbor. It’s annoying and you end up focusing on that because it is unrealistic, rather then the show.

     

    There was only one neighbor mentioned in the original.  So, which were the hillbilly Bumpus family?  Any way you slice it, that’s going to end up being offensive.

    • #32
  3. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    Deleted cuz I decided it was off-topic.

    Oops, too late.

    • #33
  4. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly: Nobody doesn’t like Cats.

    See, people. Legalize weed in Canada and this is the kind of comments you get.

    As if her majesty’s law-abiding subjects can get their hands on any!

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-26/marijuana-shortages-abound-in-canada-amid-licensing-rigmarole

    Sounds like a job for Jay and Silent Bob.

    • #34
  5. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Speaking of Hair:

    https://www.steynonline.com/9172/aquarius

    • #35
  6. LC Member
    LC
    @LidensCheng

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Hamilton seems like a natural and a ratings grabber. Too new and too expensive? Perhaps they’re still milking the touring companies.

    Yeah, Hamilton would be the only one I would eagerly watch in this type of format. Also, of course, anything from Matt and Trey (but I mean that isn’t gonna happen). 

    • #36
  7. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    Somewhat closer to the topic at hand:

    Warning: Language is not CoC-compliant.

    • #37
  8. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    Interesting discussion.  Mr. Hill is correct. Anyone who tells you they know what is going to happen in the movie/TV/streaming space in the next 24 months is deluding themselves.

    • #38
  9. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Mate De: Did anyone see A Christmas Story Live!!?

    I watched with my son. It was disappointing on a lot of levels, not the least of which was Matthew Broderick (a talent for whom I have never seemed to acquire a taste for.) Very few times is a vehicle improved (or at least equaled) by turning it into a musical.

    • #39
  10. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    There are exceptions…

    • #40
  11. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Mate De: Did anyone see A Christmas Story Live!!?

    I watched with my son. It was disappointing on a lot of levels, not the least of which was Matthew Broderick (a talent for whom I have never seemed to acquire a taste for.) Very few times is a vehicle improved (or at least equaled) by turning it into a musical.

    The Producers worked, and Broderick was fine in it. No Gene Wilder, but Nathan Lane wasn’t Zero Mostel either.

    A “live broadcast” of a musical should be at least as good as opening night at the theater, but the clips I saw showed folks out of rhythm, missing marks, and terrible acting. It wasn’t a broadcast of “A Christmas Story Live”; it was a broadcast of a dress rehearsal, at best.

    • #41
  12. barbara lydick Inactive
    barbara lydick
    @barbaralydick

    From 1973 to 1975, using approximately 500 movie theaters across the US, The American Film Theatre presented two seasons of film adaptations of well-known plays. Each film was shown only four times at each theater. By design, these were not films of stage productions — they were plays “translated to the film medium, but with complete faithfulness to the original play script.”  Filmgoers generally subscribed to an entire season of films, as they might if they purchased a season’s tickets for a conventional stage theater. About 500,000 subscriptions were sold for the first season of eight plays

    The films were released on DVD in 2003 by Kino International and again in 2008 as a boxed set.

    1973-74 Season

    The Iceman Cometh

    The Homecoming

    A Delicate Balance

    Rhinoceros

    Luther

    Three Sisters

    Butley

    Lost in the Stars

     My husband and I bought a subscription to the ’73-’74 season and enjoyed them immensely as they were extremely well done.  Interestingly, the major movie studios began to exert pressure on the theaters to withdraw from the American Film Theatre and a lawsuit ensued against 6 of those studios. The ‘experiment’ ended after the second season.

    • #42
  13. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Mate De: Did anyone see A Christmas Story Live!!?

    I watched with my son. It was disappointing on a lot of levels, not the least of which was Matthew Broderick (a talent for whom I have never seemed to acquire a taste for.) Very few times is a vehicle improved (or at least equaled) by turning it into a musical.

    Little Shop of Horrors?

    • #43
  14. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    The Scarecrow: Little Shop of Horrors?

    I was thinking more along the lines of Auntie Mame, the musical of which bore just the name Mame.

    • #44
  15. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    EJHill (View Comment):

    The Scarecrow: Little Shop of Horrors?

    I was thinking more along the lines of Auntie Mame, the musical of which bore just the name Mame.

    Was that the Lucille Ball movie?  It was supposed to be pretty bad – I remember a review of it that was headlined “Maimed”.

     

    • #45
  16. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Miffed White Male: Was that the Lucille Ball movie? It was supposed to be pretty bad – I remember a review of it that was headlined “Maimed”.

    The movie was awful. Lucy couldn’t sing.

    On Broadway the lead role was a tour de force for Angela Lansbury. And she had big shoes to fill. The original, non-musical Mame was played on both stage and screen by Rosalind Russell.

     

    • #46
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