Continuing its role as the broadcast leader in bringing event programming to a national audience, it was announced today that NBC is joining forces with Jennifer Lopez for “Bye Bye Birdie Live!,” a 2017 holiday production of the celebrated Broadway musical. Lopez will star in the iconic role of “Rosie” and executive produce with her producing partners Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Benny Medina alongside award-winning film, TV, and live musical executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
Harvey Fierstein, who has won Tony Awards for both acting (“Torch Song Trilogy,” “Hairspray”) and writing (“La Cage Aux Folles,” “Torch Song Trilogy”), will pen the teleplay adaptation for “Bye Bye Birdie Live!” Fierstein wrote the teleplay for NBC’s Dec. 7 presentation of “Hairspray Live!,” in which he will also co-star.
“To have a superstar like Jennifer Lopez starring in this classic show, which every high school in America has done, will ensure that our holiday musicals continue to be must-see events for the whole family,” said NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt, who has been the driving force behind NBC’s signature live productions. “It was her idea to take on this classic singing and dancing role made famous by the legendary Chita Rivera, and we are so happy to oblige! This show has delighted audiences for generations with classic songs that include ‘Put on a Happy Face’ and ‘A Lot of Livin’ to Do,’ and this will be an extravagant production built around this big star.”
“Broadway musicals and films fueled my childhood and ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ was one of my favorites,” said Lopez. “I’m proud to be a part of the NBC family with ‘Shades of Blue’ and I thought it would be a blast to take on one of their big live musicals.”
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.
“Bye Bye Birdie” was also a 1963 Golden Globe-nominated feature film that starred Van Dyke and Janet Leigh. Featured in the movie was Ann-Margret as Kim MacAfee, a role that would propel her to stardom.
Set at the height of rock ’n’ roll, “Bye Bye Birdie” takes us to 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 send the small town reeling, giving the teens Birdie fever, shocking the parents with moral indignation, and placing songwriter/agent Albert Peterson along with his savvy sweetheart, Rosie, right in the thick of things. The story was inspired by the incredible popularity of Elvis Presley and his induction into the Army in 1957.
Lopez has had five films open at #1: “Maid in Manhattan,” “Monster-in-Law,” “Anaconda,” “The Cell” and “Antz.” Her 2015 film “The Boy Next Door,” in which she starred and produced, was the second-highest box office opening of her career. Other film credits include “Selena,” which earned her widespread acclaim, including a Golden Globe nomination and ALMA Award, “Out of Sight” with George Clooney , “Shall We Dance,” “Enough,” “Angel Eyes,” “Parker,” “An Unfinished Life,” “Money Train,” “Jack,” “Blood and Wine” and “El Cantante.”
Since Lopez’s first album “On the 6” debuted in 1999, she has been transforming the global music scene and has sold more than 75 million records worldwide. She has had 16 top-10 hit songs and three #1 albums. Her music achievements include winning three AMA’s, three ASCAP Pop Music Awards, eight Billboard Latin Music Awards and two VMA’s.
Lopez is currently in residency with 40 shows a year at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas with her one-of-a-kind show, “Jennifer Lopez: All I Have,” which launched in January. She also stars in the NBC drama “Shades of Blue,” which will begin its second season in 2017, and will be a judge and executive producer on the network’s upcoming reality series “World of Dance.”
Goldsmith-Thomas has held such top positions in the industry as senior vice president of International Creative Management, where she represented Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Madonna, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Matt Dillon and a host of top actors and directors. She left agenting to partner and co-head Revolution Studios East for Joe Roth. She has produced more than a dozen films and television series, and is currently a producing partner with Lopez overseeing and building out Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions, as well as Halle Berry and her 606 Films. Goldsmith-Thomas’ next film, “Kidnap,” produced with Berry and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, is due for release early 2017. She is currently in production on season two of NBC’s “Shades of Blue,” starring Lopez and Ray Liotta, as well as season four of Freeform’s critically acclaimed hit drama “The Fosters,” both of which she executive produces with Lopez. The busy producing duo are in pre-production on “World of Dance,” a dance competition series for NBC where the best dancer in the world will be awarded $1 million.
Multi-award winners Zadan and Meron executive produced each of NBC’s prior live productions — “The Sound of Music Live!,” “Peter Pan Live!” and “The Wiz Live!” — and will serve in the same capacity on the upcoming “Hairspray Live!”
Universal Television will produce with Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions, Storyline, and Sony Pictures Television.