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And the numbers are in: NBC's live presentation of "The Sound of Music" is officially one of network TV's -- not just NBC's -- glowing triumphs of the year: 18.5 million viewers. Over three hours.
Let me make this plain and clear: Network TV, except for football, just doesn't get this kind of crowd anymore. I can assure you - they are celebrating at "30 Rock," as well they should. This was a gamble that paid off, and paid off handsomely -- especially in social media, which was just off the charts last night. Love this live presentation -- which I mostly did -- or jeer (some tweeters did that too) people were clearly intrigued, and mostly happy with what they saw. Yes, Carrie Underwood has a huge fan base, and doubtless it turned out in force for her. But the "Sound" franchise has an even bigger one. The double effect, along with the uniqueness of a live venture, made this thing explode.
Why a triumph for "network TV?" Because it essentialy proves that old idea of a "national hearth" still has a certain vitality to it -- if the program is right. One little irony, perhaps, is that a live presentation like this -- not done in half a century -- was lifted directly from the Old Days. It wasn't some newfangled gimmick.
Some more stats...
- Most tuned in during the 8 p.m. -- expected -- although the vast majority of the 19.7 million viewers who were watching at the peak time, 8:30, stayed around until the end: A total of 17 million viewers were watching at 11, according to "Fast National" Nielsen figures yesterday.
-Thursday's win for NBC wasn't merely unusual but essentially unprecedented in recent years -- perhaps many years -- as it's struggled on what was once a bread-and-butter night. Some reports yesterday indicated that this was the highest performance on the night since "ER's" April 2, 2009 finale. But "Sound of Music" exceeded that performance -- 16.2 million viewers over two hours.
- According to NBC, "With 18.470 million viewers, it’s the NBC’s most watched non-sports night on any night of the week since Jan. 15, 2007 (Golden Globes, 20.036 million)."
A live telecast of "The Sound of Music" on Dec. 5 will originate from Bethpage's Grumman Studios -- "Birthplace of Apollo Lunar Modules that landed men on the moon, from July 20, 1969, to Dec. 11, 1972," as the historic marker on Grumman Road explains. But for some reason, NBC and Grumman have been reluctant to confirm the venue, most likely to keep the gawkers and professional...Read more »
And now this: Bethpage's Grumman Studios is expected to be the venue for NBC's Dec. 5 live telecast of 'The Sound of Music" -- starring, as you are probably aware, Carrie Underwood as Maria and Stephen Moyer as Von Trapp -- produced by Neil Meron and Craig Zadan. Rehearsals began this week.
A report in the Daily News Friday morning has confirmed that "The Sound of Music" will originate from one of Grumman's sound stages, and while neither NBC nor Grumman have yet to confirm, I think I can safely say the Daily News is correct.
This is, suffice it to say, something of a victory for Nassau County chief Ed Mangano, who has taken to calling Nassau "Hollywood East" and with a little bit of justification: By the county's own estimates, per a recent news release, "In 2012, Nassau County hosted over 650 production days. Among the more than dozen movies and television shows [including]: “Spiderman,” “Winter’s Tale,” “Found Footage,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Royal Pains,” “The Good Wife,” “Affluenza,” ”The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Four Weddings,” “Infamous,” “Deception,” “The Americans” and “Zero Hour.”
Grumman has been the centerpiece of this revival.
Other than a few critical production details, for example, Beth McCarthy-Miller, who knows "live" well and she should, as one of "Saturday Night Live's" major directorial forces over the years, will be one of the directors, along with choreographer Rob Ashford.
But nothing has been said about Grumman. Why? Beats me.