Six months after rights-holders Paramount announced a Grease feature film prequel, a TV spinoff based on the John Travolta and Olivia Newton John 1978 musical is in the works. WarnerMedia-backed streamer HBO Max has handed out a straight-to-series order for the musical Grease: Rydell High, with its name stemming from the school at the center of the beloved original.
The project will be produced by Paramount Television, the studio behind Fox’s Emmy-winning 2016 one-off Grease: Live. Erik Feig’s Picturestart and Temple Hill (Love, Simon) will executive produce. The new take reimagines the original movie and will feature some characters from it. The series is still set in the 1950s and will feature big musical numbers from the era combined with new original songs. It will explore the peer pressures of high school, the horrors of puberty and life in middle America with a modern sensibility.
Additional details surrounding Grease: Rydell High are slim. A search is underway for a writer on the show; an episode count and premiere date have also not been determined; and no decision has been made on whether installments will be a half-hour or hourlong.
“Grease is an iconic pop-culture phenomenon that works for every generation, and I’m thrilled that our friends at Paramount were excited about the idea of opening up the show and putting it on a larger canvas for a weekly series,” Sarah Aubrey, head of content at HBO Max, said Tuesday in a statement. “This is high school and life in small-town USA told on the scale of a big rock ’n’ roll musical. It’s Grease 2.0 but with the same spirit, energy and excitement you immediately think of when you hear any of these iconic songs. You’re the One That I Want!”
Grease: Rydell High marks the second time that Paramount TV has revisited the Grease franchise. Its 2016 live production for Fox, which starred Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit and Vanessa Hudgens, earned 10 Emmy nominations and won five awards, including for special class program and directing (for Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinski). That production featured songs from the original feature as well as from its more recent Broadway production.
“Grease is one of the most beloved Paramount titles and it’s a thrill to be reimagining it for today’s audience with our good friends at Temple Hill and Picturestart,” said Paramount TV president Nicole Clemens. “When Bob Greenblatt called about bringing it to television, we knew we would be in the perfect hands because of our great working relationship with HBO Max and Bob’s genuine passion for musicals and Grease in particular.”
Greenblatt, who now oversees content at HBO, TNT, TBS and select other WarnerMedia brands, has a background in Broadway and developed Smash for NBC, and he also ushered in broadcast’s live TV musical wave that has been widely copied at other networks.
The new Grease take arrives six months after Paramount Players put a prequel — titled Summer Lovin’ — into development for the big screen. John August (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is attached to pen the script. Summer Loving is also being produced by Picturestart and Temple Hill.
Set to launch in 2020, HBO Max will feature a mixture of library content (Game of Thrones, Friends, Big Bang Theory) and originals including a new take on Gossip Girl and The Boondocks, as well as a female-focused new chapter in Dune.