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Fox and NBC are going head-to-head this holiday season.
Fox has set a live musical production of A Christmas Story to air later this year, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The production is inspired by the 1983 cult classic film and its subsequent 2012 Broadway musical adaptation, A Christmas Story: The Musical.
Based on the short stories of Midwestern humorist Jean Shepherd, the story is set in the 1940s, when all 9-year-old Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun. The film follows Ralphie and his family’s various holiday-themed adventures, which include a terrible trip to visit the department store Santa, his younger brother’s disgusting eating habits (or lack thereof) and his dad’s infatuation with an obnoxious lamp made to look like a woman’s leg.
The telecast hails from Warner Horizon Unscripted Television and brings two key players back to Fox. One being Warner Bros. unscripted and alternative president Mike Darnell, who previously worked at Fox’s alternative department for 18 years and was responsible for reality hits like American Idol. The other is Marc Platt, who won an Emmy for producing Fox’s last live musical production of Grease in January 2016. In addition to the telecast’s five Emmy wins, the live production was a bona fide hit for the network, grabbing a 4.3 demo rating among adults 18-49 and 12.2 million viewers.
Platt will executive produce with Adam Siegel (the Broadway revival of The King and I), with Jonathan Tolins and Robert Cary (Grease Live) serving as co-exec producers and writers. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who were nominated for a Tony for best original score for the Broadway and seasonal-touring musical, will compose several new songs for the event.
“A Christmas Story is one of the most beloved holiday films of all time — audiences have made a yearly ritual of re-watching it — and we are so thrilled to have Marc leading the charge in bringing the musical version of that film to television,” Fox Broadcasting entertainment president David Madden said Friday in a statement. “The extraordinarily gifted Pasek and Paul were instrumental in transposing the movie to the stage, and we believe the transition to LIVE television event will be just as entertaining for viewers.”
Added Darnell: “I can’t believe how incredibly lucky we are to have Marc Platt producing this iconic Christmas classic. Marc is the defining voice in this genre and it’s amazing to have this caliber of talent leading what is sure to be a new standard in live musical events.”
A Christmas Story will see Fox go up against NBC, which has broadcast a live musical every December since 2013. This year, the network has a live telecast of Bye Bye Birdie starring and exec produced by Jennifer Lopez (who formerly was a judge on Fox’s American Idol).
The news also comes after NBC seemingly doubled down on its live musical productions. Earlier this week, the network ordered a live take on the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar that will air on Easter Sunday, and which also has Platt attached as an exec producer. In addition to Grease Live!, Platt recently exec produced the movie musical hit La La Land.
Pasek and Paul took home Oscar gold for their contributions to La La Land and are also fresh off the hit Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, which recently nabbed nine Tony Award nominations. (Platt’s son, Pitch Perfect‘s Ben Platt, stars in the show.)
A Christmas Story earned just $19.3 million at the box office when it opened, but has become a holiday season mainstay. TBS and TNT have regularly aired a 24-hour marathon of the movie every Christmas Day since 1997. In 2012, the MGM pic was also selected for preservation in the National Film Library.
That same year, A Christmas Story: The Musical made its Broadway debut. It went on to score three Tony nominations, including for best musical, original score and book of a musical.
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