Jennifer Lopez will star in NBC’s next live musical production, “Bye Bye Birdie Live!,” NBC Entertainment Chariman Bob Greenblatt announced on Thursday.
Lopez will play Rosie in the production, the role originated on stage by Chita Rivera in 1960.
“Bye Bye Birdie Live!” will air in 2017, following NBC’s schedule of doing one live musical per year. It will follow “Hairspray Live!,” starring newcomer Maddie Baillio, which is set to air on Dec. 7.
“To have a superstar like Jennifer Lopez starring in this classic show, which every high school in America has done, will ensure that our holiday musicals continue to be must-see events for the whole family,” Greenblatt, who has been the driving force behind NBC’s signature live productions, said from the Paley Center in Los Angeles Thursday night. “It was her idea to take on this classic singing and dancing role made famous by the legendary Chita Rivera, and we are so happy to oblige! This show has delighted audiences for generations with classic songs that include ‘Put on a Happy Face’ and ‘A Lot of Livin’ to Do,’ and this will be an extravagant production built around this big star.”
As for that star, Lopez said: “Broadway musicals and films fueled my childhood and ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ was one of my favorites. I’m proud to be a part of the NBC family with ‘Shades of Blue’ and I thought it would be a blast to take on one of their big live musicals.”
“Bye Bye Birdie” is set at the height of rock ‘n’ roll in Sweet Apple, Ohio, where hip-thrusting music heartthrob Conrad Birdie’s rock ‘n’ roll ways send the small town reeling, giving the teens Birdie fever, shocking the parents with moral indignation, and placing songwriter/agent Albert Peterson (played by Dick Van Dyke in the original production) along with his savvy sweetheart, Rosie, right in the thick of things.
Lopez will also serve as executive producer on NBC’s adaptation with Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Universal Television will produce the show with Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions, Storyline and Sony Pictures Television.
Harvey Fierstein, who has won Tony Awards for both acting (“Torch Song Trilogy,” “Hairspray”) and writing (“La Cage Aux Folles,” “Torch Song Trilogy”), will pen the teleplay adaptation for “Bye Bye Birdie Live!” Fierstein wrote the teleplay for NBC’s “Hairspray Live!”
This is NBC’s latest partnership with Lopez, who currently stars on the network’s police drama “Shades of Blue” — which will return for Season 2 in 2017 — and will executive produce and host its upcoming dance competition show “World of Dance.”