We have entered the age of “Event TV”. Fox is prepping to remake the cult classic film The Rocky Horror Picture Show in a two-hour musical event special. Kenny Ortega (Highschool Musical, Hocus Pocus) is set to direct the reboot alongside Gail Berman (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) as executive producer. Lou Adler, who executive produced the original film, is also on board. Tentatively titled The Rocky Horror Picture Show Event, the special has a cast-contingent order at Fox.
My gut reaction to this is – wow, that’s going to be a disaster – but I’ll reserve judgment until a cast is announced. The fact that they’ve got Adler on board is promising, and Ortega certainly knows how to direct musical performances. Plus, this is the guy who gave us Newsies and Hocus Pocus, two of my generation’s great cult classic. If they nail the casting, it could turn out to be a damn entertaining program. It’s easy to rail against the idea of anyone but Tim Curry in the iconic role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, but I’ve seen the role performed countless times by a number of actors who completely nailed it. And if you’re not already aware, Anthony Stewart Head delivered a killer Frank-N-Furter of his own. I suggest you google that if you haven’t seen it, because it’s excellent. I just hope they’re not leaning toward the young and so-hot-right-now direction they went with casting their upcoming Grease: Live, in which case they better wise up.
What The Rocky Horror Picture Show Event really has going for it is the fact that fans of the musical have long-embraced live performance events. You could probably find one occurring not too far from you in the next few weeks. Rocky Horror comes attached with a proud history of bawdy live performances, and if the Fox event can capture that energy and enthusiasm they could have a winning ticket on their hands.
With fewer and fewer audience members live-watching televised programs as they air – pulled away either by superior programing on cable channels or the convenience of DVR – broadcast networks have spent the last few years scrambling to find a way to get TV viewers glued to their screens again. “Event programming” has become a major buzzword and the greatest success they’ve found recently. Folks still tune in weekly to watch their favorite sports, and as NBC discovered with The Sound of Music and Peter Pan Live, both of which reaped huge viewership numbers, they’ll tune in for live performances too.
Fox is also currently developing Grease: Live, which will air on January 31, 2016 with Julianne Hough set to play Sandy and Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo.