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ABC’s Historic ‘Cinderella’ Movie Gets ‘20/20’ Anniversary Special

20/20 revisits historic Disney movie
(Image credit: ABC)

Cinderella: The Reunion, A Special Edition of 20/20 airs on ABC Tuesday, August 23. Film Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella premiered on ABC 25 years ago. Cast members Brandy, Whoopi Goldberg, Paolo Montalban, Victor Garber, Bernadette Peters, Jason Alexander and Veanne Cox appear in the 20/20 special. 

Following the one-hour special, ABC will air the made-for-TV movie, its first broadcast TV airing in more than two decades, according to ABC. The movie is on Disney Plus. The special is on Hulu August 24. 

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella aired on November 2, 1997 as part of The Wonderful World of Disney, and 60 million viewers watched. ABC called the movie “a groundbreaking moment in television history,” with Cinderella and Fairy Godmother portrayed by Black actresses (Brandy and Whitney Houston, respectively.) Robert Iscove directed. Houston, Debra Martin Chase, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron were executive producers. 

The special investigates how the movie expanded society’s view of the term “princess,” according to ABC, offers behind-the-scenes footage of Houston, who died in 2012, and looks into the movie’s impact on representation in Hollywood. 

Billy Porter, Jade Jones and Todrick Hall appear in the special to discuss how the movie impacted them. Producers Chase and Meron share as well. 

“We’re delighted that the 25th anniversary of this landmark incarnation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella is being celebrated on its original network,” said Imogen Lloyd Webber, senior VP at Concord Theatricals, on behalf of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s unforgettable score is truly timeless—still enchanting listeners 80 years after their partnership began and 65 years since their Cinderella first charmed the largest audience in television history.”

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella first aired on television in 1957, the only musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for TV. Julie Andrews starred. It was remade in 1965, with Lesley Ann Warren in the lead role. ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.