Zadan and Meron to Produce TV 1776

News   Zadan and Meron to Produce TV 1776 Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will produce a TV version of the Broadway musical 1776 for ABC-TV.

Variety reports that the twosome who head Storyline Entertainment — responsible for the TV productions of “Annie” (Victor Garber, Audra McDonald), “Cinderella” (Whitney Houston, Brandy, Bernadette Peters) and “Gypsy” (Bette Midler) — will produce the historical musical for ABC’s “The Wonderful World of Disney.” Zadan and Meron have just begun planning an approach to bring the 1969 Tony-winning musical to the small screen. Meron told the industry paper, “It’s one of the most perfectly written musicals of all time that wasn’t as well served on film as it could have been. We want to bring it back in a powerful way, and TV is the perfect medium.” The duo recently had lunch with 1776’s author, Peter Stone, who died last weekend, age 73. Said Meron: “We now just have this fervor about doing this really well and dedicating it to his memory.”

It’s a busy time for Zadan and Meron, who were also producers of this year’s Oscar-winning Miramax film, “Chicago.” They have just signed a deal with writer Lizzie Weiss and Touchstone Television to develop “The Rise,” a weekly song-and-dance TV drama that concerns a group of young singers and dancers living together in Los Angeles. Their TV version of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is also moving forward with a staged reading held last month in New York City, and a TV version of Fiddler on the Roof is also back on track now that the war in Iraq has ended.

1776, based on the arguments and politics involved in the signing of the Declaration of Independence, opened on Broadway in March 1969, playing 1,217 performances before closing Feb. 13, 1972. With a score by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone, the original cast featured William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Betty Buckley, David Ford, Ronald Holgate, Ken Howard and Virginia Vestoff. Peter H. Hunt directed the 1972 film, which featured many of the original Broadway cast members, including Daniels, Da Silva and Howard. Directed by Scott Ellis, a 1997 revival for the Roundabout Theatre Company starred Tom Aldredge, Michael Cumpsty, Dashiell Eaves, Gregg Edelman, Pat Hingle, Linda Emond, Mervin Foard, Brent Spiner, Paul Michael Valley and Lauren Ward.