Grease is the word, is the word, is the televised word!

Business Rule #679:  If your competition does something successfully, do something similar.

It’s not the most original business axiom in the book, (I’d rather be a business leader than a business follower – that’s where the real history and the real profits are made), but in the case I’m about to discuss, I’m happy someone at FOX TV likes to copy off of NBC’s paper.

This past Monday, (timed for all the hub-bub around the Tony noms, no doubt), FOX announced that it would present a live television version of everyone’s favorite musical, Grease, later this year.

Obviously, this is a result of the ginormous success of NBC’s The Sound of Music, and their announcement of Peter Pan for the coming year.

And while I’m sure there are a lot of purists out there lamenting the choice of the immensely popular four-chord-three-joke musical instead of another classic R&H or Lerner and Loewe, etc.

But let’s not look a gift-Broadway-musical-broadcast in the mouth.

With some hopeful casting coups, this live telecast will mean millions more across the country will get Broadway exposure without having to be in the middle of Times Square.  And Grease is a fantastic choice – because when you’re rolling out a product to a wider market, it’s smartest to give them something you know they’ll enjoy, so you can serve up twenty more shows right behind that one for the next twenty years.

I’ve mentioned before how telecasts like this (and hopefully the roll-out of Met-like telecasts of the actual shows in movie theaters around the country) are one of the greatest weapons we have in the war to not only grow our audience, but to keep our audience from being captured by the Netflix of the world.

And now we have two networks as allies.

Ummm, CBS?  ABC (owned by Disney)?  Gonna join the partaaaay?

P.S.  What do you think the odds are that another revival will follow the telecast if it’s a success?

P.S.S.  Will someone ever let me produce Grease 2?  Imagine this song as a Susan Stroman-style production number!


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  • Bert says:

    Several years back, the Yale Cabaret presented “Grease 2” live on stage. It’s a small, challenging performance space where all kinds of wonderful and creative things happen. It was a simple, imaginative staging and was a super hot ticket!

  • senorvoce says:

    “…this live telecast will mean millions more across the country will get Broadway exposure without having to be in the middle of Times Square.”

    Bringing Broadway to the masses is not how to bring the masses to Broadway. You are always citing the competition for the tourist dollar in NYC. If the tourists have seen Broadway on TV, then they can spend a few more days shopping and sightseeing instead of actually buying our famously high priced Broadway tickets. There may be no Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty in Des Moines, but NBC and Fox will have already served up a heaping helping of “live” Broadway theater.

    BTW–The Met is heading for a possible labor implosion and their TV rollouts are only contributing to the chaos and confusion that is the Met management. Broadway is goofy enough without emulating the failures of others.

    • I’m not sure this is true. It seems that shows with popular movies are doing very well–Mamma Mia, Chicago, and Rock of Ages are still doing well long after their movies came out. Expect the same with Jersey Boys.

      Non-theater people who come to New York want sure bets when they’re laying out hundreds of dollars for two or three hours. What’s surer than something you’ve already seen.

      A Fathom Events Broadway series would be more likely to reach true theater afficionados–and create word of mouth for the shows that are broadcast.

      And if you love a show, you’ll go see it live. I’d go see Merrily in the theater, even though I saw the film of it– even with the same cast.

      Memphis, on the other hand, I’d probably skip. I love the story– but the songs are out of my traditional musical theater wheelhouse.

      • One other thing: Today’s twenty-somethings are used to watching things over and over again. They are the kids who grew up when VCRs were fully established and Disney was re-releasing their classic animated musicals– which they watched over and over again. They have no problem watching something they like a second time– or even a twentieth time.

        • senorvoce says:

          Young folks don’t buy tickets to Broadway. Why shell out beaucoup bucks when you’ve seen the movie already? Bridges of Madison County and Rocky are not the triumphs their producers expected.

          • Ashley says:

            Not true. I am a young person who grew up in the deep south. My love for Broadway was cultivated by Disney movies and teleplays. Not to mention Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show where she introduced me to Broadway stars and shows. The only reason I first visited NYC was to see a Broadway show. I had never been to NYC but I wanted to see a show so much that I took a day trip from my college town–DC–saw a matinee and came back within’ a 12 hour period. I was hooked. The next year I did a domestic exchange at Columbia University, stayed in the Broadway dormitory (on purpose) and saw as many shows as I could. There are many Broadway fans across the country/world, without the means to come to NYC, that live for these glimpses at live entertainment. Hell, I still do!

          • senorvoce says:

            Ashley, above, is a wonderful example of a unicorn, an outlier. The Broadway League’s own numbers say, as a group, the youth demographic does not purchase full price tickets in any significant quantities.

  • Mark A. Zimmerman says:

    I am excited about live theatre on TV (and in movie theatres). We are already watching it in Netflix and YouTube so live broadcasts are definitel step forward. Further, I am not on board with the idea that telecasting live theatre will lead to less theatre attendance. People used to think that about baseball attendance but studies have shown that people are more likely to attend a live ball game after having watched one on TV. I can’t help but think that the same will be true for theatre but perhaps to a lesser extent.

    • senorvoce says:

      MLB attendance is dropping too. A dwindling middle class can’t have it all.

      • Mark A. Zimmerman says:

        Baseball attendance isn’t dropping because the games are televised.

        • senorvoce says:

          Maybe not, but rising prices amidst a hollowing out middle class sure are hurting MLB, just as on Broadway. Also, the baseball comparisons are lacking in that there are 30 MLB markets, and other network packages. Then again, I didn’t bring up baseball, you did.

  • Andrea says:

    Fox would have had to purchase the rights for the Grease songs used in the Glee episode in 2012. Keep it in the family.

  • I am hoping ABC will get in the game and do Beauty & the Beast… Could we end up with a live musical every three months? Or will they broadcast them all on the same night, making us choose..?

  • Alex B. says:

    Don’t forget that about 10 years ago, ABC tried to revive the musical. It wasn’t live, but their version of “Annie” was pretty good (Alan Cummings and Kristin Chenoweth), but missed the mark a little with “The Music Man”.

    • Ashley says:

      I remember Annie! I LOVED it so much I made my parents buy the VHS. I watched it every morning before school. Audra McDonald and Kathy Bates were in it too.

  • Jenni says:

    Actually, I recently tweeted about Grease 2 and was favorited by the Grease2 production in London, I believe!

  • sheryl wiener says:

    I think its great to bring Broadway to the entire country, however, I wonder if this was a wise choice of production. If every middle and high school production has to “tone down” some of the more racy references in this show, I doubt that FOX will broadcast the show as written. Does anyone else think that middle America’s head might explode at the constant use of the term “pussy wagon” in Grease Lightening? Will FOX respect the show, as written, or will they re-write all of that stuff and sanitize it for America’s protection?

  • Heather Lee Moss says:

    I have been screaming about Grease 2 on Broadway for years… If anyone can produce it, you can! I will be there opening night! I can’t even find the sheet music anywhere.

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