Wonder, Parton, Longoria projects part of NBC's slate

AP News
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Posted: Jan 16, 2015 3:40 PM

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Stevie Wonder is on board for an NBC miniseries set against the 19th-century Underground Railroad that helped escaped slaves find freedom.

Wonder, who will serve as executive producer for the project, also may be involved in a musical adaptation of the miniseries that is aimed at Broadway, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said Friday.

"The hope is that Stevie will write the score" for the musical that's in development and which would be staged after the miniseries airs, Greenblatt said.

NBC is in business with another famed musician, Dolly Parton. The network has closed a deal for a series of TV movies based on her songs, stories and "inspired life," he said.

"To know Dolly is to love her, and the movies will be infused with genuine hopefulness, not to mention her music," Greenblatt said.

The network, which scored big ratings with a live 2013 production of "The Sound of Music" but less so with last month's "Peter Pan," remains committed to musicals, Greenblatt said.

Next up will be either "The Wiz," the 1970s stage reinvention of "The Wizard of Oz," or "The Music Man," which the network had previously said it had optioned. The network has time to decide since the musical that's chosen is 11 months away from broadcast, Greenblatt said.

On the series side, NBC has ordered 13 episodes of the half-hour comedy "Telenovela," with Eva Longoria as the star and executive producer. The series is a behind-the-scenes look at the "craziness" of making such a serialized drama, with Longoria playing the "beautiful and overly dramatic" lead actress of a hit Latin America TV show.

NBC, which plans a police drama titled "Shades of Blue" with another Latina star, Jennifer Lopez, recognizes the growing importance of the Latino audience, Greenblatt said.

"We get the diversity angle," he said.

Air dates for the various projects were not announced.