'Peter Pan Live!' Producer: People Hope Something Goes Wrong

by 3:47 PM PST, December 04, 2014
Playing 'Peter Pan Live!' Producer: People Hope Something Goes Wrong

The cast of Peter Pan Live! has been toiling away at rehearsals, getting every little part perfect, but according to one of the show's producers, viewers would prefer an unpolished performance.

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"Let's face it, people are going to tune in to hope that something goes wrong, because that's the excitement and the energy," said co-executive producer Craig Zadan.

Craig is executive producing the show with longtime collaborator Neil Meron. Together, their productions (which include the 86th and 85th Academy Awards, Chicago, Hairspray and Footloose) have earned 11 Emmys, six Oscars and two Tonys.

Their production of The Sound of Music Live, starring Carrie Underwood, reeled in 18.5 million viewers for NBC last year, which has expectations high for their Peter Pan production, starring Allison Williams.

"[Allison] is fearless when it comes to doing this live presentation," said Neil. "There are literally no safety nets, and that's the joy, the thrill, the fear, the wonder of doing live TV."

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NBC broadcasted Peter Pan live with legendary Broadway star Mary Martin from the mid '50s to the early '60s, giving Allison some big shoes to fill, but she's evidently spent most of her life preparing for the part.

When the casting announcement was made, Allison posted a childhood photo of herself dressed as Peter Pan, writing, "I've been rehearsing for a REALLY long time."

In the past, Craig and Neil's musicals have found success by casting big stars like Bette Midler, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta Jones and John Travolta. In addition to Allison, Peter Pan Live!'s big names include Christopher Walken and Minnie Driver.

One of Craig's early successes was 1984's Footloose. While the movie earned high praise for star Kevin Bacon, according to Craig, he wasn't the original pick for the lead.

"We cast Tom Cruise," said Craig. "What happened was Tom was doing a movie called All the Right Moves and his schedule conflicted with the Footloose schedule, and to make a long story short, he couldn't do the movie."

The missed opportunity apparently left an impression on Tom. Craig said that he had dinner with the Golden Globe winner and all he could talk about was the role that got away.

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"Tom said, 'My one regret is that I didn't get to do Footloose,' and I said, 'Oh, shut up!'" Criag shares. "I mean, come on! After all the stuff you've done, you're still talking about Footloose?"

But Craig and Neil got to make a dream come true for Whitney Houston in 1997 when they cast her as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. Craig told us that he ran into the late singer about a year before she passed away.

"All she could talk about was one of the greatest joys of her life was making Cinderella for the kids," said Craig.

Craig and Neil will once again be producing the Oscars, which airs Feb. 22, 2015 on ABC with host Neil Patrick Harris, and Peter Pan Live! airs tonight at 8/7c on NBC.