elevision history is littered with abortive efforts to bring musical storytelling to the small screen: Cop Rock, Viva Laughin, the list goes on. But after Glee debuted to enormous ratings in 2009, rival networks and studios took another run at the TV musical in a frantic effort to replicate its success. Tellingly, only one of the resulting concepts made it to air: NBC's erratic Broadway soap-opera Smash. The latest attempt, from American Idol producer Simon Fuller, is a musical drama about a fledgling California band. How does it compare to the other would-be Glees projects that have come — and mostly gone? Here's a look back:
September 23, 2009
Back in 2009, Showtime announces that it is teaming with none other than Steven Spielberg to produce a scripted series about the making of a Broadway musical, featuring the music of Hairspray's Marc Shaiman. Sound familiar? Showtime ultimately passes on the series, which would later become NBC's Smash in 2012.
June 14, 2010
HBO reveals plans for an ambitious musical drama called The Miraculous Year, with Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) helming the pilot. The Broadway-themed series would examine a New York family led by a self-destructive musical composer and lyricist — allegedly inspired by Stephen Sondheim — and star Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Hope Davis, and Patti LuPone.
August 4, 2010
After Broadway-star-turned-Emmy-winning-actress Kristin Chenoweth guests in Glee's first season to rave reviews, Glee creator Ryan Murphy announces that he is working on a half-hour musical comedy to showcase her. His plans come to nothing. Chenoweth currently stars on the ABC comedy GCB.
October 20, 2010
The CW begins development on a musical TV series called Acting Out under the assumption that its target demographic echoes Glee's: "Teenagers who would enjoy some singing and dancing." Described as "a mix of Glee and Bad Santa," Acting Out is intended to take place at a summer camp run by a curmudgeonly counselor.
November 9, 2010
Despite filming the expensive pilot for The Miraculous Year — with its pricy A-list cast — HBO passes on the series. Word is that the show's appeal is "probably too narrow" for the network's tastes, says Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.
November 30, 2010
"Primetime music series are red-hot courtesy of Glee," says Andreeva, reporting two music-themed series ABC has planned. The first — described as mother-daughter series in the vein of Gilmore Girls — is also slated to star a former Glee guest star, Tony-winner Idina Menzel. Menzel would play a single mother who performs at weddings and bar mitzvahs to make ends meet. The project fails to come to fruition.
November 30, 2010
The second reported ABC project is a half-hour female-led musical comedy from writer Robert Horn, who wrote the Disney Channel movies Sharpay Fabulous, a spin-off of High School Musical, and The Suite Life: The Movie. The new series stalls at the development stage.
December 7, 2010
ABC announces a third musical series to feature songs from Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken and Oscar-nominated lyricist David Zippel. Described as "St. Elmo's Fire meets Rent," the show is to focus on young musicians trying to make it big. This project also fizzles, leaving ABC 0 for 3 in 2010.
February 18, 2011
The Disney Channel orders a pilot of a High School Musical spin-off called Madison High, about a group of students in a high school theater program. The project is cast with unknown young actors, and set to feature four original songs. The show has yet to be ordered to full series.
May 11, 2011
NBC orders its pilot for Smash. Early buzz dubs the show "Glee for adults." A series order is considered a sure-thing, says The Hollywood Reporter. Aside from the involvement of Steven Spielberg and a high-profile cast, NBC boss Robert Greenblatt was at Showtime when the network passed on the show, and reportedly has always believed in its potential.
August 29, 2011
"ABC Family wants its piece of the Glee pie, too," says Lesley Goldberg at The Hollywood Reporter. The network announces that it's developing a half-hour musical comedy called Maid in Miami, from Glee's music producer Adam Anders. It is set to star singer-actress Christina Millian, and revolve around a young maid determined to become a recording artist. Nothing has been heard of it since.
March 22, 2012
Despite Smash's modest ratings, wavering critical enthusiasm, and creative turnover, NBC officially renews the series for a second season — making it the first TV musical since Glee to make it past both the pilot stage, and the first year.
March 6, 2012
ABC announces its latest go at a musical drama pilot: Nashville, a "family soap set against the backdrop of the Nashville music scene" starring Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, American Horror Story) as an aging country star who's already peaked, and Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) as a starlet on the rise.
March 10, 2012
The CW hasn't given up on its search for the next Glee. It announces a show called Joey Dakota, described as a "romantic-time-travel-musical." It follows a documentary film producer who receives a mysterious package in the mail that sends her back in time to 1990, where she meets and falls in love with Joey Dakota, a rocker whom she knows will die later that year. (News on the show's future is pending.)
May 3, 2012
With ABC set to officially announce which pilots it will order to series next week, The Hollywood Reporter reports that Nashville is "considered a safe bet" to be among those picked up.
May 9, 2012
American Idol producer Simon Fuller announces his partnership with Lionsgate, the studio behind Mad Men, Weeds, and The Hunger Games, to create a scripted musical drama about an up-and-coming young California rock band. No network is attached, but a search is already underway for four young actors who are also skilled musicians to star.
- The 10 worst-reviewed movies of 2013
- Watch The Daily Show mock the NSA and the gamers they're spying on
- Americans are wealthier than ever*
- Is the rent really too damn high?
- Godzilla: Watch the surprisingly grim trailer for the blockbuster reboot
- The secrets of happy families
- Antarctica recently experienced the coldest day in recorded history
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- President Obama snapped a selfie during Nelson Mandela's memorial service
- Why America's new love affair with saving is not great economic news
Subscribe to the Week