Just a day after NBC announced that the network's next live musical will either be The Music Man or The Wiz, Fox revealed at their Television Critics Association panel Saturday that they too will enter the live musical arena in January 2016 with a "re-imagining" of the Fifties' rock n' roll musical Grease.
Julianne Hough will fill the Olivia Newton-John role of Sandy in what executive producer Marc Platt called "a shared entertainment event suited for today's audience," while Vanessa Hudgens will don the character Rizzo's Pink Ladies jacket, Entertainment Weekly reports.
The male lead of Danny Zuko, popularized by John Travolta, has not yet been cast, and EW writes that the roles have been "tricky" to fill, leading the musical to get bumped from its original summer 2015 premiere. Fox has scheduled their live Grease for January 31, 2016, a departure from NBC's renewed early-December tradition of broadcasting live musicals that started with the Carrie Underwood-starring The Sound of Music in 2013 and was followed by Peter Pan Live! in 2014.
While Peter Pan struggled in the ratings, EW notes that the popular songbook and key high school demographic built into the Grease audience could make it the most successful live musical yet. Adding to the appeal is Hough, a veteran of big screen Broadway adaptations like Footloose and Rock of Ages, and High School Musical star Hudgens.
"Grease is one of the movies that made me want to be an entertainer, and I have literally been waiting my whole life to play Sandy," Hough said in a statement. "My siblings and I watched it and played it out over and over when we were kids. This is my dream role and performing it live on television will be one of the most thrilling opportunities I've had in my career so far."
In other news from the Fox junket, American Horror Story and Glee creator Ryan Murphy announced a new horror anthology called Scream Queens starring Lea Michele, True Blood's Joe Manganiello and, in a recurring guest role, singer Ariana Grande. That series is set to debut in fall 2015, Variety reports.