The hills TV networks are alive with the sound of music. Ridiculously infuriating as it may sound, ABC is headed back over a century for its latest project’s source material, as they’re teaming with Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry and his Cherry/Wind Productions for a modern-day music biz adaptation of Phantom of the Opera. Somebody tell me there’s a Lon Chaney IV that they can find for this!

This new version will take place in “the sexy and cutthroat world of the modern-day music business,” according to THR. It’ll be presented as a drama with musical elements, which ABC has been doing for a few years now with Nashville. Considering its contemporary setting, I’m guessing they’ll either rope in a bunch of popular producers or they’ll try to fake pop music and fail miserably. There’s barely a middle ground there.

While it’s not clear what its proper title will be just yet, this new Phantom of the Opera is a non-direct take of Gaston Leroux’s 1909 novel of the same name. I guess they’re trying to avoid comparisons to Rupert Julian’s 1925 film with Lon Chaney and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running Tony-winning musical – because you always want to distance yourself from prestige. Considering it only seems to be an adaptation in spirit and basic plot mechanics, I’m intrigued to see how they’ll justify using such a classic work as the series’ origins. (Assuming I even get a chance to find out, since it’s just in “script commitment” territory right now.)

Luckily, there is some musical pedigree behind the creative team. The pilot will be written by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, the duo behind stage adaptations Secondhand Lions and 17 Again, as well as the original Broadway play First Date. It’s good that actual musical writers have been brought in for this, instead of just someone who wrote a couple of episodes of Prime Suspect.

The last time audiences got a taste of Phantom of the Opera on a screen was in 2004, when Joel Schumacher spent too much money on something pretty forgettable. Italian horror master Dario Argento put his own horrible spin on it in 1998, and before that it was a fairly successful 1990 TV movie with Game of Thrones’ Charles Dance in the title role. But seriously, does anyone think of anything else besides the ghastly scene below when Phantom of the Opera is mentioned?



Fox currently has the record company project Empire in motion with Terrance Howard in the lead, while HBO has that Martin Scorsese series based a music producer going through the disco and punk boom in the late 1970s. ABC also has the musical fairy tale Galavant coming during the midseason. And that’s only a few of them, so you might as well start plugging your headphones into your TV for next year or so.

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