Jennifer Hudson To Star In NBC’s “Hairspray Live” Musical

Truth rating: 10
Jennifer Hudson Hairspray NBC

By Shari Weiss

Jennifer Hudson Hairspray NBC

(Getty Images)

Jennifer Hudson will star in NBC’s “Hairspray Live!” it was announced on Monday.

The network is staging a live adaptation of the Broadway musical to follow last year’s successful production of The Wiz. Hudson is the first big star to sign on to the project, and will play TV host and activist Motormouth Maybelle. While many actresses have portrayed the character on stage, it’s likely Queen Latifah’s turn in the 2007 Hairspray movie that most stands out in people’s minds. Coincidentally, she also starred in “The Wiz Live!”

Perhaps even more noteworthy, Harvey Fierstein will once again go in drag to play Edna Turnblad, the Tony-winning role he originated on Broadway in 2002. John Travolta infamously took over the position for the big screen version. In this case, Fierstein is also writing the teleplay.

“We are beyond thrilled with this incredibly talented duo of stars for ‘Hairspray Live!,’” says Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment. “Harvey Fierstein created the role of Edna Turnblad on Broadway in an indelible Tony-winning performance that demanded to be memorialized on film, and we’re happy he wanted to step into her shoes one last, unforgettable time.”

Greenblatt adds, “We’re also so grateful that the incomparable Jennifer Hudson will play Motormouth Maybelle and we know her rendition of ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ will literally stop the show.” The production will be directed by Alex Rudzinski, who helmed “Grease Live!” for FOX earlier this year. Additional casting for Hairspray, which originated as 1988 John Waters film, will be announced in the weeks and months to come, as there are key roles that have yet to be filled.

An open casting call for the lead role of teen Tracy Turnblad, Edna’s daughter, was held on Sunday. Gossip Cop will have updates, and full coverage of the production on December 7.

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