NBC has decided which musical it will
ruin remake for a new generation: The ’60s-era Bye Bye Birdie, with Jennifer Lopez set to star as Rosie, Variety reports.
For the uninitiated (get yourselves initiated, guys, it’s the best!), Bye Bye Birdie began as a 1961 Broadway musical starring Dick Van Dyke as songwriter Albert Peterson, who pens a new hit for the Elvis-like Conrad Birdie, who’s just been drafted, to the dismay of millions of girls across the country. Chita Rivera played the original Rosie, Albert’s girlfriend and secretary, who comes up with the idea to pick one girl from Birdie’s fan club who will appear with the singer live on The Ed Sullivan Show. There, Birdie will sing her Albert’s song and bestow her with a kiss.
The 1963 film version famously starred Ann-Margret as Kim MacAfee, the lucky girl chosen for this honor; the theme song, which Ann-Margret sings at the beginning of the film, served as the inspiration for an ad campaign on the third season of Mad Men, in which it becomes very clear that executive Sal (Bryan Batt) is gay when he mimics the scene for his wife.
According to Variety, Lopez herself pitched the musical to NBC; the very busy singer/actor is currently in the middle of a 40-shows-a-year residency at Las Vegas’s Planet Hollywood, and a second season of her NBC series Shades of Blue is incoming. Bye Bye Birdie follows 2013’s Sound of Music Live!, which attracted over 18 million viewers, and Peter Pan Live!, which NBC aired in 2014 starred Girls‘s Alison Williams in the title role. Last year, the network broadcast The Wiz Live!, and this year will air Hairspray Live! on December 7. Bye Bye Birdie is set for the 2017 holiday season, and I’m nervous already.
Anyway, it’s Friday, so please enjoy the musical number “Telephone Hour” from the 1963 film, which makes liberal use of very silly graphics that no doubt represented cutting-edge technology at the time, and remember: Some things are better left in their original, slightly janky state.