10:10am PT by Lacey Rose
Fox Taps Julianne Hough, Vanessa Hudgens for 'Grease: Live'
Fox has found its Sandy and Rizzo.
The network has tapped Footloose star Julianne Hough and High School Musical's Vanessa Hudgens to co-star in its musical installment of Grease. In a bid to defeat the increasingly powerful DVR, the three-hour production from executive producer Marc Platt will air live at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016.
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“Grease is one of the most treasured and favored pop culture phenomenons of our time. It's fun, it's endearing and we are so excited to reimagine this iconic story with a shared entertainment event suited for today's audience,” Platt said of the Paramount TV production, which is based on the original musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, and Paramount Pictures’ 1978 feature adaptation.
Though the live event will air on Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden and Gary Newman's watch, it was ordered by the previous regime and was announced not long after NBC struck ratings gold with a live rendition of Sound of Music, which drew 18.5 million viewers. NBC's more recent foray into the live musical space with Peter Pan lured roughly half that audience, though the network's entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt confirmed that he'd be moving forward with either The Music Man or The Wiz later this year.
“Grease is one of the movies that made me want to be an entertainer, and I have literally been waiting my whole life to play Sandy," said Hough, a two-time Dancing with the Stars champion whose resume is lined with film, TV and music credits. "My siblings and I watched it and played it out over and over when we were kids. This is my dream role and performing it live on television will be one of the most thrilling opportunities I’ve had in my career so far.”
Added Hudgens, who got her start in musical theater before rising to fame alongside other former Disney Channel stars Zac Efron and Ashley Tisdale with the HSM franchise: “Being Rizzo is something I’ve never imagined, and I love that because it will be a new challenge. She is such an iconic character that continues to transcend generations. I cannot wait to bring her to life on live television. I’m going to be a Pink Lady!”
Platt brings with him a vast resume of high-profile film and TV projects, including current entry Into the Woods as well as Ryan Gosling's Drive, Legally Blonde, Rachel Getting Married, Empire Falls and Nine. On stage, Platt produced smash hit Wicked, which The New York Times recently dubbed “the defining musical of the decade,” and currently musical If/Then, starring Idina Menzel.