Meron and Zadan Talk 'Plan B' for Tonight's SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE on NBC
In an interview in today's The Hollywood Reporter, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, the producers behind tonight's SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE on NBC (8/7c), spoke about casting their exciting and innovative project, staying true to the iconic Broadway production, and what their 'Plan B' is if things don't go exactly as planned on the live broadcast.
"The first person we cast was Carrie Underwood. Everything sprung from that," said Meron of the casting of the show. "Carrie was our first choice from Day 1 because we felt we loved the surprise of Carrie as an actress. We also felt that Carrie was Maria. She has all of the qualities of Maria. What we've learned is she is a really fast learner. She just wants to dive in and spread her wings a little bit more in other aspects of the entertainment business."
Shared Zadan, "The person we went after with tremendous passion was Audra McDonald to play Mother Abbess. We thought it'd be interesting to have an African American mother Abbess, which was a completely new idea," He added, "Stephen Moyer was very interesting. Neil and I are big True Blood fans and we thought he was a unique and wonderful actor. Then we discovered he had done musical theater in Great Britain and then we found out he was about to do the Hollywood Bowl for three performances of Chicago playing Billy Flynn. All of a sudden, we found our Captain."
While cast and crew have been hard at work rehearsing for tonight's presentation, one never knows what can happen on live television. "We are anticipating things to go smoothly," expressed Zadan. "You can never account for things that are going to happen naturally but they are going to have to make the best of it. That's the whole thing about live TV. Say something goes wrong, you are going to have to make spot decisions as to what to do. You can prepare as much as you can for what happens, but who knows?"
Offered Meron, "They have to keep going. They can't stop. Somebody could trip and fall. Somebody could forget their lines. Somebody could hit a bad note when they are singing. Anything could happen so you're all sitting there going are we going to get through this intact? Are people going to slip up and make mistakes? That's all part of the excitement of doing it."
Asked about a Plan B in case of a "major emergency or a hiccup", Zadan replies, "The only thing we have in terms of a Plan B is we have understudies for the actors. [But] not for Carrie [Underwood] or Steve [Moyer]." Shared Meron, "We are terrified of anyone getting the flu or a cold or a sore throat or whatever because you are going on live whether you are sick or well. So this is a scary time for us, praying that everyone stays healthy."
Read the interview in full here!
Zadan and Meron, who will once again produce this year's Academy Awards, served as executive producers for the 2002 "Best Picture" winner "Chicago," which won Oscars in 6 of the 13 categories in which it was nominated. Their credits also include the features "Footloose" (2011), "Hairspray," and "The Bucket List." Zadan also produced the original "Footloose" (1984).
Their work in television includes the series "SMASH" and such movies as "A Raisin in the Sun" and "Steel Magnolias."
For Broadway, they recently produced the Tony Award winning revivals of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and "Promises, Promises."
Their work has amassed 73 Emmy nominations; 12 Tony nominations; and seven Grammy nominations.