A recent fad on broadcast networks has been the production of live musical extravaganzas. We've gotten everything from The Sound of Music to Peter Pan to The Wiz so far, and ABC was slated to bring classic Disney film The Little Mermaid to life on the small screen with a live musical adaptation. The musical was originally intended to air just a couple of months from now, but that plan has seemingly been scrapped. The Little Mermaid Live! probably is not going to happen on ABC.
The Little Mermaid Live! has been indefinitely postponed, which likely means a cancellation. USA Today reports that budget constraints have prevented production from moving forward, despite the fact that rehearsals were set to begin in the not-too-distant future. That said, ABC has reportedly already spent a hefty chunk of change in building sets to bring The Little Mermaid to live-action, which could possibly motivate the network to move forward with the project at some point.
It's not all that surprising that The Little Mermaid Live! racked up a pretty big bill for ABC. An undersea civilization filled with singing sea creatures that can be created via animation probably isn't easy to recreate for a live TV movie. Admittedly, producers pulled it off for the Little Mermaid musical on Broadway, but stage productions always require a certain suspension of disbelief that viewers might not bring to a TV movie. To look good, the ABC event wasn't going to be cheap. For folks who have been looking forward to the October premiere, this postponement and possible cancellation will come as very bad news.
The Little Mermaid isn't the only live musical to be taken off the table for the rest of 2017. NBC put a hold on its plans to bring Bye Bye Birdie to the small screen for the holidays, although this postponement was not due to budget. The special was set to star Jennifer Lopez, but it was determined that her schedule wouldn't allow it. Lopez is currently attached to NBC's Shades of Blue and World of Dance, along with a Las Vegas show that is still ongoing. NBC Entertainment head honcho Robert Greenblatt has said that Bye Bye Birdie may still happen in 2018; no such statements have been made by ABC about The Little Mermaid.
A big question now is if the tabling of The Little Mermaid Live! is a sign of the end of semi-frequent live musicals on broadcast networks. While some events have scored phenomenal ratings for networks, the numbers have been dropping off in recent years. If they do keep happening, I imagine that less pricy shows will be chosen. That said, there are a few musicals still being planned for live TV. NBC has Jesus Christ Superstar scheduled for April 1, and Fox has A Christmas Story and Rent in the works. A non-musical will air live as well, with Alec Baldwin starring in an NBC production of A Few Good Men.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV news, and take a gander at our fall TV premiere schedule for all the shows that are still on the books for the coming months.