June 29, 2012 10:50am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Smash' Producers, NBC Set Live 'Sound of Music' Broadcast
NBC is going to the theater.
The network is teaming with Smash executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron for a live broadcast of the stage play The Sound of Music.
"There used to be a tradition of broadcasting musicals live back in the 1950s, and we’re thrilled to do it once again with a musical that has been a family classic for five decades," NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt said Friday in a statement announcing the news.
"There is no more talented and creative producing team than Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to bring Rodgers and Hammerstein’s final -- and most beloved -- collaboration to network television in this groundbreaking live telecast," the exec added.
The producers noted that the plan wasn't to remake the 1965 feature film version, calling that attempt "artistic blasphemy," but instead offer a fresh take on the 1959 stage play combined with the "spontaneity" of a live performance. "All of the actors will be singing live; there will be no lip-synching to recordings," Zadan said.
Meron noted that classic songs from The Sound of Music will be included -- "Do-Re-Mi," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and "My Favorite Things" among them -- as well as tracks from the Broadway version that fans are "less familiar" with.
For NBC, the rendering continues Greenblatt's love of the stage. The avid theater fan developed Broadway's 9 to 5 in 2009 and developed Smash during his stint as entertainment chief at Showtime, bringing the property with him to NBC.
Zadan and Meron, for their part, are accomplished theater veterans, with 12 Tony nominations and two wins between them for work including Hairspray and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
"With today’s exciting announcement, NBC is breaking new ground by reviving a tradition from another era: staging a full Broadway musical live on television,” said Ted Chapin, president of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company. "We are thrilled that Bob Greenblatt has chosen The Sound of Music to be that Broadway musical -- its story of the von Trapp family and its timeless Rodgers & Hammerstein score are known and loved all over the world. We have had the honor of working with producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron before, and look forward to working with them again to make The Sound of Music a major NBC television event."
Casting will begin immediately, and an airdate expected to be announced shortly. For NBC, the live airing also continues a recent trend at the network that has twice staged a 30 Rock live show. Medical drama ER also did a live episode during its 10-season run.
The Sound of Music, set in pre-World War II Austria, centered on Maria von Trapp, a nun who leaves the abbey to take care of widower Captain von Trapp's seven children. The play premiered on Broadway in 1959 and won a Tony for best musical. Richard Rogers penned the music with Oscar Hammerstein II the lyrics. Its original cast recording album spent four months atop the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for more than five years.
The film version starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer won five Academy Awards including best picture and best director for Robert Wise. Its soundtrack album topped the Billboard 200 for two weeks and spent nearly 4 1/2 years on the chart.