NBC executives likely breathed a sigh of relief when the ratings for Jesus Christ Superstar posted. The network’s latest live musical event attracted 9.6 million viewers, giving NBC its most-watched Easter Sunday in 12 years. Jesus Christ Superstar also got some nice notices in the press, earning praise for its cast and stark staging on a graffitied warehouse set. It’s just the good news that NBC, and live musicals as a whole, need. Because the last few efforts have been a decidedly mixed bag.

Ever since NBC revived the live TV musical format, it’s been working to get the genre down to a science, and it’s not alone. Competing networks have also gotten in on the act. Fox has been airing its own musicals since 2016, and will debut a live version of Rent in 2019. But dwindling ratings have scared some off the scent. NBC’s next venture, Bye Bye Birdie, has been postponed repeatedly, while ABC has shelved its Little Mermaid indefinitely. If live musicals are to continue, the networks will need to pump out more critical and commercial hits — and luckily, the previous specials offer some clues.

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jesus christ superstar john legend

Jesus Christ Superstar has found its, well, superstar. The upcoming NBC live telecast has cast John Legend as the titular Jesus Christ in a move that is sure to shake up the show’s premiere date of Easter Sunday.

But if anything, John Legend does fit the label of “superstar” quite accurately. A 10-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, producer who won an Oscar for his song “Glory” from 2014’s Selma, Legend has also stretched his acting chops on both TV and film, most notably appearing in last year’s Oscar-winning La La Land. Not to mention the Tony Award he nabbed for producing Jitney, the revival of August Wilson’s play. Could Jesus Christ Superstar be Legend’s ticket to the coveted EGOT?

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A Christmas Story Musical Live

The trend of live broadcast musical productions on network television will continue in the coming year with three new projects announced at the competing networks of NBC and FOX. The two have been going back and forth with musical productions in recent years with NBC tackling the likes of The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz and Hairspray and FOX taking on Grease and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The latter has some catching up to do, which is probably why they’ve announced two upcoming musical adaptations while NBC has just announced one.

Over at FOX, they’ll be tackling A Christmas Story, which has already been turned into a Tony-winning musical on stage, and the famous Broadway musical RENT. Meanwhile, NBC will take on a much older musical in the form of Jesus Christ Superstar. Find out more details on each after the jump. Read More »

slashfilmcast550

funny people posterIn this week’s episode of the /Filmcast, Dave Chen, Devindra Hardawar and Adam Quigley assess their conflicting feelings on new trailers for A Serious Man and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, get excited for Spielberg’s next film, praise the third season of Dexter, and wonder if there’s any value to the works of Gregg Araki. Special guest C. Robert Cargill from Aint It Cool News joins us for this episode.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next Tuesday at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST at Slashfilm’s live page as we review G.I. Joe.

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webb_superstar

Last year, Mama Mia! did well for Universal, so according to the RiskyBiz Blog the studio is looking to find musical harmony again with a revamp of Jesus Christ Superstar. They’re talking to the director who has recently made a splash with (500) Days of Summer, Marc Webb. The blog speculates on “a modern, hipstery take,” which makes me shudder. (Let me guess: it’ll shoot at McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn.) But I have relatively little familiarity with either the original Broadway show or the film (Andrew Lloyd Webber and I don’t really suit one another) so I can’t speculate as to whether that’s a good idea or a terrible one. Read More »

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