Warner Brothers may have their earnest big budget “reboot” of the Peter Pan legend coming in a year, but NBC has one that sounds like it has way more fairy dust on hand to make it fly. Indeed, it even has its weapon of choice now, as revealed by NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt.
The NBC head honcho broke the news Sunday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that Christopher Walken has been cast as Captain Hook in the network’s upcoming live-broadcast of Peter Pan.
In what is intended to be a follow-up on last year’s highly successful NBC airing of The Sound of Music Live!, NBC and Universal Television are producing another televised stage show, this time based on J.M. Barrie’s original play and musical about the boy who could fly and the magical world of Neverland.
Says Greenblatt on Walken, “He might really just be a song and dance man at heart…This might be the first tap dancing Captain Hook you’ve ever seen.” It would make sense as Walken has already shown he can carry more than a tune in the musical film version of Hairspray, whose producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are also serving as producers on Peter Pan.
Greenblatt also let it be known that he pursued the darling of Twitter and cult television, Kristen Bell, for the role of Peter Pan. Following in the custom of Mary Martin, casting a great female musical presence in the role of Pan is a time-honored tradition. And after Bell wowed the world as the voice of the spunky Princess Anna in Frozen, this too would have been perfect casting.
Alas, it is thus a shame that because of her commitment to Showtime’s House of Lies, this flight of fancy is not to be.
“It’s tricky finding the right person in the schedule that we need it, but we’re actually close. [Peter is] going to be female,” Greenblatt said.
NBC last adapted Peter Pan for live-broadcast in 1955 when they aired a performance of the 1954 Broadway production of the play, which starred Mary Martin and Cyril Richard. That airing drew 65 million viewers. Another 1960 television production also starring Mary Martin lived on via VHS production and re-airings.