Three years after Jesus Christ Superstar, NBC’s series of big live musicals hath risen again. The network announced today that it will be airing Annie Live! this “holiday season,” produced by Neil Meron and Bob Greenblatt, the former head of NBC who left for WarnerMedia and then was ousted there. This new production marks the reunion of Meron and Greenblatt with NBC, and a return to the kind of musicals they’ve put on in the past, like The Sound of Music Live!, Peter Pan Live!, and The Wiz Live!. (Since Greenblatt’s departure, NBC did air a live version of The Grinch last December, but the less said about that, the better.) To make things more intriguing, Annie Live! will be directed by Lear deBessonet, who’s currently the artistic director of New York City Center’s revival series, Encores, and who created the Public Works program at the Public Theatre, which incorporates community members into stage productions. Recently, deBessonet directed a spiffy new version of Disney’s Hercules there. Will she be able to do the same kind of work on network TV? We can only hope.
The rest of the production team of Annie Live! includes Alex Rudzinski as the live television director, Sergio Trujillo as choreographer, Paul Tazewell as costume designer, Jason Sherwood as scenery designer, and Stephen Oremus as music supervisor and orchestrator. Neil Meron, notably, previously produced a not-live TV version of Annie in 1999 for Disney, with his producing partner, the late Craig Zadan, which starred Kathy Bates, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, and Audra McDonald. Now when do we get an update on the Bye Bye Birdie Live! that NBC announced in 2016 that was going to star J.Lo? The network’s probably given up on making that happen by now, but if she’s hanging out with Ben Affleck again, anything could happen.