NBC's big Sound of Music risk paid off in the ratings, so another like it is definitely on the way. What should the network do?
The special event scored 18.5 million viewers and a great 4.6 rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic. Per Deadline, that's the largest Thursday night audience for the network since the Fraiser finale in May 2004. Tossed salad and scrambled eggs, that's a good number! This means one of two things: a) stunt-casting Carrie Underwood worked, and b) there will be more events as such in the future.
Of course, the evening was by no means perfect from a critical standpoint, with a major weak spot being Underwood herself. (The von Trapp kids from the movie didn't like it!) So we brainstormed some perhaps better options for the next starry extravaganza. We're not blind to the necessities of stunt-casting, if NBC wants to repeat those gaudy ratings, but but here are a few ways the network could have their cake (attention-grabby stars ... ) and eat it too (... who are right for the part).
Bye Bye Birdie: In the ultimate bit of stunt casting the beloved but loutish pop star Conrad Birdie will be played by beloved but loutish pop star Justin Bieber. Ariana Grande, who is on Nickelodeon's Sam and Cat and has a hit album, will play Kim, the teen infatuated with him. In a bit of winking at the audience, older pop star Justin Timberlake will take on the role of songwriter Albert. Penelope Cruz will play his love interest/secretary Rosie Alvarez.
Damn Yankees: In this remake of the classic story of a wannabe baseball player that makes a Faustian bargain, Scarlett Johansson would play seductress Lola. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Mr. Applegate, the Devil. Whatever Scarlett wants, Scarlett gets.
My Fair Lady: Though a new movie adaptation of has been reported to be in the works with Carey Mulligan, we bet TV can get there faster. Though Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) is super posh, she'd dress down as the flower girl Eliza Doolittle and put her pipes to use. Maybe he's too young for the role, but we'd make the infinitely charismatic Tom Hiddleston the infinitely charismatic Henry Higgins.
Carousel: The network should take on this more challenging of Rogers and Hammerstein musicals with noted opera singer Emmy Rossum as Julie Jordan, a millworker who falls in love with the dangerous carousel barker Billy Bigelow. Hugh Jackman's done Bigelow and done him well, so we say give him the part again.
Oklahoma!: Okay, okay so they've filmed the production Jackman was in London a while back, but if NBC wants to cast a country star in a musical this is the one to do it in. Put Broadway people in the central roles of Curly and Laurey—we're thinking Stark Sands and Laura Osnes—but make the supporting characters big time country stars. Miranda Lambert for Ado Annie; Blake Shelton for Jud.