Fox Ponders Original Jukebox Musicals

Fox is focused on the live musical Rent set for Jan. 27, and its entertainment executives are thinking about a jukebox musical for the network’s next live musical production.

Jukebox musicals feature songs from one particular artist or act, with a story built around the songs. Jukebox musicals that made a splash on Broadway include Mamma Mia! (Abba), Jersey Boys (The Four Seasons) and Beautiful (Carole King).

Michael Thorn, Fox entertainment president, said the network will be “incredibly selective” about future live musicals. He said discussions are ongoing with a couple artists about building a live musical around their song library. Such a project allows Fox to “create our own IP and have some ownership,” said Thorn, who would not share the artists Fox is speaking with.

Related: Fox Hopes Live Musical Helps Pay the Rent

Music-themed programming is “just part of the DNA at Fox,” said Thorn, who stressed that the network is also committed to live programming. So the live musicals work on those fronts, though Thorn notes that the productions are very expensive.

He calls Rent “an iconic musical” with songs that have held up well over the years. A reimagining of the Puccini opera La Boheme, Rent is the story of young artists chasing their dreams amidst social turmoil in Manhattan’s then-scruffy East Village in the late 80s. Rent remains “incredibly relevant today,” said Thorn.

The production happens at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. It airs 8 to 11 p.m. ET on the 27th. The cast includes Kiersey Clemons, Brandon Victor Dion, Jordan Fisher, Vanessa Hudgens and Brennin Hunt.

The executive producers are Marc Platt, Adam Siegel, Julie Larson, Allan Larson and Revolution Studios’ Vince Totino, Scott Hemming and Marla Levine.

NBC got the live musical trend going in 2013 with The Sound of Music, which was followed by Peter Pan, The Wiz, Hairspray and other live shows.

For Fox, Grease, A Christmas Story and The Rocky Horror Picture Show have been done live.

Thorn is committed to more of them, if the productions hit the right benchmarks. “If we find signature events, we’ll continue to do them,” he said. “We’ll be patient.”

Michael Malone

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.