Variety reports that Tony Award-winning composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber is going Hollywood, with plans for a new star-making TV reality talent search.
"The composer has signed with WMA, taking his first Hollywood agent ever because he wants to make a network deal for an American reality show that he'll topline, searching for a young unknown to star in one of his stage musical productions. WMA will not handle his stage business, which continues to go through his Really Useful Group," according to the article.
Webber may follow his UK success with "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria" and "Any Dream Will Do" - the respective reality series that cast his West End productions of The Sound of Music and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - with a new show that will find a star for an American production of Joseph, for which he wrote the music to Tim Rice's lyrics. "He feels that with more than 250 productions performed last year in schools, it's a familiar subject matter for reality-rabid young viewers." Lee Mead, who was in the title role of Joseph through "Any Dream Will Do," has already aquired a wide UK fanbase.
Although the reality casting show craze that Webber and David Ian started with "Maria" has yielded successful results in the UK, it has yet to take off in America, where NBC's "Grease: You're the One That I Want" - which led to the casting of Laura Osnes and Max Crumm in the upcoming Broadway revival of Grease - is regarded to have been a ratings disappointment. Webber, who believes that "You're the One That I Want" unsuccessfully utilized some of his own ideas, will talk to network executives in early fall and try to persuade them that the reality show casting format can be well-done and profitable on American television.
Webber finds that shows such as "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria" and "Any Dream Will Do" can make young audiences enthusiastic about going to the theatre. "Frankly, it made theater cool and that's something I'd love to do that in America...Here, we'll be creating a production of a show that will have enormous legs, whether it goes to Broadway or stadium tours, which is the way I originally did Jesus Christ Superstar."
In addition, WMA will also represent Webber for upcoming lecture tours. After Webber finishes writing his upcoming sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, he will concentrate on TV, although Variety states that some of his past musicals such as Sunset Boulevard may be headed for the screen in the future; WMA would also be involved in the film adaptations.
Webber's other musicals include Cats, Evita, Whistle Down the Wind and The Woman in White.
Visit www.andrewlloydwebber.com for more information.
Photo of Andrew Lloyd Webber by Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.