NBC Cuts Plans For 'Hair Live!' To Refocus On Family-Friendly Musicals

Adult-oriented musicals can consider themselves on the chopping block for NBC. The network has cut short its plans to air Hair Live!, which had been originally scheduled for a May 19 telecast, as the network's next live musical. Instead, NBC plans to refocus its live musical programming to family-friendly shows in a return to the broad-appeal titles like The Sound Of Music, which helped launch the current live TV musical phenomenon.

Hair Live! had been announced as the next NBC live musical following last spring's Jesus Christ Superstar Live, which was a raucous success for the network, earning Emmys for star John Legend and producers Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and making them all EGOTs as well. However, it seems that NBC has gotten over its rock fever and is going back to the wholesome family entertainment with which the current live TV musical trend first started, according to Deadline.

Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks, Co-Chairmen, NBC Entertainment, said in a joint statement:

"Live musicals are a part of this network's DNA and we are committed to continuing that tradition with the right show at the right time. Since these shows are such enormous undertakings, we need titles that have a wide appeal and we're in the process of acquiring the rights to a couple of new shows that we're really excited about."

While Telegdy and Cheeks gave no official reason for the Hair Live! cancellation, the most likely culprit is Fox's recent staging of Rent, which met with record low ratings and criticism over the use of pre-recorded footage. It's possible that Rent's poor reception and its tackling of tough issues like the AIDS crisis may have given NBC cold feet with Hair! , an R-rated musical that addresses the Vietnam War. Plus the highest-rated live TV musicals thus far have been the lighter, family-friendly shows like NBC's The Sound Of Music and The Wiz and Fox's Grease.

Hair Live! was the last live musical greenlighted by former NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt, who first kickstarted the current wave of live TV musicals with The Sound of Music in 2013. Diane Paulus and Alex Rudzinski were tapped as directors for Hair Live! in July, and the special has been actively casting. There's no word yet on what NBC will announce as its next live musical in place of Hair Live!