|Photo by ABC/ Rick Rowell|
Menken — the Oscar-winning songwriter of "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin," as well as Broadway's current Newsies — already has a Tony, a Grammy and an Oscar. Will "The Neighbors" lead him to an Emmy Award? Only time will tell.
The episode, "Sing Like a Larry Bird," which airs 8:30-9 PM (ET) on ABC, is written by Tracy Oliver and directed by John Fortenberry. Series creator Dan Fogelman (who wrote the screenplay of the Menken-scored animated film "Tangled") is a fan of musicals and sought to snag Menken, whose work from Disney animated films is beloved.
The "Broadway Alien Song" from the episode is a sprawling "I want" number. Slater said in an ABC backstage video that it's probably the only time that he will write the lyrics, "I want to get a circumcision."
The lyricist said he studied all episodes of the series to make sure he accurately wrote for the voices of the character. Watch the ABC promotional video here.
"The Neighbors" stars Jami Gertz as Debbie Weaver, Lenny Venito as Marty Weaver, Simon Templeman as Larry Bird, Toks Olagundoye as Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Clara Mamet as Amber Weaver, Tim Jo as Reggie Jackson, Ian Patrick as Dick Butkus, Max Charles as Max Weaver and Isabella Cramp as Abby Weaver.
Guest stars on the episode include Doug Jones as Dominique Wilkins, Katherine Tokarz as Mary Lou Retton, Patrick O'Sullivan as Johnny Unitas, Alden Ray as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kiersten Lyons as Billie Jean King, Caitlin Thompson as reporter, Nick Eldredge as high pants alien and Tristen Winger as clown.
Here's a clip provided by ABC:
According to ABC.com/theneighbors, here's the premise of "The Neighbors":
Marty Weaver (Lenny Venito) just wants the best for his wife Debbie (Jami Gertz) and their three kids. That's why he's moving them to Hidden Hills, New Jersey, a gated community complete with its own golf course. Marty is certain that their new home will be a dream come true. And then, they meet the neighbors.
The residents of Hidden Hills are a little… different. Larry Bird (Simon Templeman) introduces himself as the "leader" of the community. Then, he presents his wife, Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) and their two sons (yes, they're named after famous athletes — Dick Butkus and Reggie Jackson).
After Debbie and Marty frantically try to make sense of the weird neighbors — very European? A cult? Amish athletes? — they discover that the entire Hidden Hills community is comprised of aliens from the planet Zabvron. Turns out the Zabvronians have been holed up in Hidden Hills for the past 10 years, awaiting instructions from back home. And the Weavers are the first humans who have ever lived amongst them.
At first, the Weavers are ready to cut and run. But the aliens seem harmless enough. And there is a lot of closet space… So, they decide to stay and help their new neighbors adapt to life on this confusing planet we call home.
As the Weavers and the aliens face the struggles of everyday life together, they discover that some things -- the ups and downs of marriage, the desire to be a good parent and raise a happy family — are universal. Intergalactic, even. And the Weavers realize they've found an ally in the family next door... even if they do cry out of their ears.
"The Neighbors" was created by Dan Fogelman ("Cars," "Tangled" and "Crazy, Stupid, Love"), who is also an executive producer with Aaron Kaplan ("GCB," "Terra Nova"), Jeff Morton ("Modern Family") and Chris Koch ("Workaholics," "Modern Family"), who also directed the pilot.