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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

Kristin Chenoweth and the Cast of 'Hairspray Live' Hope to Twist Their Way to an Emmy Nomination

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

If you are wondering why Hairspray Live! seems to be making a comeback after its December 2016 broadcast, get ready because it’s Emmys season in Los Angeles. To catch Television Academy voters’ eyes for the upcoming nomination process, NBCUniversal currently has an exhibit of costumes and set pieces from the live musical on display at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.

Last Friday; star Kristin Chenoweth, producer Craig Zadan and Chairman of NBCUniversal Bob Greenblatt were on hand at The Paley Center for the press preview and special screening.

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Zadan explained how the original concept to bring live musicals back to television originally came about.

“Our initial thought was what could be new for television that’s an event? So we [Zadan and producing partner Neil Meron] went back 50 years to when they did live musical way back when,” says Zadan. “We thought everything old is new again. Let’s do it.”

While The Sound of Music was their first outing, the annual shows have embraced more contemporary shows like The Wiz and Hairspray over the last few years. No matter which shows they choose though, it’s the live element that has everyone excited because anything can happen.

For Hairspray Live!, the show was moved to the West Coast to the NBCUniversal Studios lot. After Grease Live! had upped the ante in January 2016 with using soundstages for their show, the NBCUniversal producers followed suit.

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Golf carts were used to get the cast from set to set, that aspect of television made even a Tony-winning pro like Chenoweth nervous.

“I was scared to death because on Broadway we do it eight times a week,” she explains. “If there’s a mistake, we get the next night to make it better. In film, we cut. This, in front of the nation — one time, one-shot deal.”

The cast nailed it in the original broadcast and kudos was sent Derek Hough’s way for his portrayal of Corny Collins. When Dance Dish spoke to creator Harvey Fierstein last December, he spoke about adding in a number from the film adaptation just for Hough.

“Because of Derek Hough, [choreographer] Jerry [Mitchell] wanted to use a song that was in the movie called “Ladies Choice” because it’s a dance number and it would allow Derek to really dance,” explains Fierstein.

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Hough’s success in Hairspray Live! begged the question Dance Dish posed to Zadan on the red carpet: Would he cast Hough in the upcoming Bye Bye Birdie musical with World of Dance co-star Jennifer Lopez?

“We try not to repeat, no matter how brilliant people are. But everyone wants to come back after we do one, but we want to put all new people in,” Zadan shares. “But Derek was fantastic!”


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