Even more interesting than Jennifer Hudson joining the cast, and Harvey Fierstein reprising his Broadway role, is how producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron had the smarts to nab director Alex Rudzinski, fresh off of his Grease Live! triumph for FOX…
Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG and Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson and multiple Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein will headline the cast of NBC’s Hairspray Live!, the network’s next live Broadway musical holiday event following the phenomenal success of The Wiz Live!
Also joining the creative team will be acclaimed television director Alex Rudzinski, who received extraordinary reviews for his television direction of Grease Live! Rudzinski was also the TV director for Dancing With the Stars from 2005-14.
“We are beyond thrilled with this incredibly talented duo of stars for Hairspray Live!,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “Harvey Fierstein created the role of Edna Turnblad on Broadway in an indelible Tony-winning performance that demanded to be memorialized on film, and we’re happy he wanted to step into her shoes one last, unforgettable time. We’re also so grateful that the incomparable Jennifer Hudson will play Motormouth Maybelle and we know her rendition of ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ will literally stop the show.”
Harvey Fierstein, who is also writing the teleplay, will play Edna Turnblad, a role he created and won a Tony Award for in the stage version of Hairspray. The quintessential Edna, Fierstein portrayed the character for the show’s first two years of its seven-year run at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway.
Hudson, who will play Motormouth Maybelle, is currently completing a triumphant run in the acclaimed revival of The Color Purple — performing the role of Shug Avery in her Broadway debut. She won an Oscar and Golden Globe in 2007 for her iconic performance as Effie White in the hit film Dreamgirls. Her sensational rendition of the song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” was greeted with instant acclaim by film critics and moviegoers alike and made Hudson the person to beat as best supporting actress for the Academy Awards.
Hudson’s incredible vocal talents were first recognized with her appearance on the third season of “American Idol” in 2004, where she impressed both the show’s judges and a national TV audience. Soon after, she released her first album, “Jennifer Hudson,” which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 Chart and sold more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. through the first six weeks. The album was nominated for four Grammys and won for best R&B album.
Hudson continued on the bigscreen following “Dreamgirls” and has since co-starred in such films as “Sex and the City,” “The Secret Life of Bees” and Spike Lee’s latest film, “Chi-Raq.” Her TV credits include NBC’s “Smash,” Fox’s “Empire” and HBO’s newest telepic, “Confirmation.”
“Hairspray Live!” reunites Hudson with executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who worked with her previously on NBC’s “Smash” and the 85th and 87th Oscar telecasts, which they also produced.
Television director Alex Rudzinski will join stage director Kenny Leon (“The Wiz Live!”). Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (the upcoming “A Few Good Men Live!”) serve as executive producers of “Hairspray Live!” Harvey Fierstein will provide a new teleplay and Jerry Mitchell (“Kinky Boots,” “On Your Feet”) will serve as choreographer for the live production with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Smash” and Broadway’s upcoming “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”).
“Hairspray Live!” will air Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and will originate from Los Angeles.