Another week, another Dirty Dancing casting announcement. According to Entertainment Weekly, Sarah Hyland will be in ABC’s remake of the 1987 classic. Hyland will be playing Lisa, protagonist Baby’s shallow older sister. As you probably already know, Hyland already has had ample experience playing a shallow older sister as Haley on Modern Family (also on ABC) for the last six and- a- half seasons. Lisa was played by Jane Brucker in the original movie.
The news comes hot off the heels of other Dirty Dancing casting reports, including former Pussycat Doll and X Factor host Nicole Scherzinger as Penny and national treasure Debra Messing as Baby’s rich mother Marjorie, Entertainment Weekly also reports. Abigail Breslin and dancer Colt Prattes will star as the duo made famous by Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze- Baby and Johnny.
While a Dirty Dancing remake sounds reactionary to the current trend of movies reborn on TV, mxdwn reported that Lionsgate first tried to put on the show back in 2011 before it fell into production purgatory. This first effort can perhaps still be seen as reactionary, but to ABC’s hugely successful Dancing with the Stars.
However, the timing now is perfect. The strange resurrection of the television special can be traced back to NBC’s infamous live production of The Sound of Music Live!. The program arguably miscast Carrie Underwood and that hot vampire from True Blood (the brunette one, not the blond) as the leads and was widely mocked. However, networks don’t care if you’re sincere or merely hate- watching, so the colossal 21.8 million viewers was an unabashed success.
In fact, it was such a success, it may have single- handedly launched this new (or technically old? Time is a flat circle) trend. Peter Pan Live! followed on NBC, but there was a considerable drop down to 9.2 million viewers. Their recent The Wiz Live! rebounded slightly with 11.5 million total viewers and a good deal more critical acclaim. Fox also just got in on that sweet movie- turned- telecast action with Grease Live, which had over 12 million viewers. Despite the declining numbers, these are relatively huge audiences in this day and age.
Shockingly, Dirty Dancing is not going to be a musical (in that the characters will only be dancing to “Do You Love Me” and not spontaneously begin singing it). It’s not even going to be live. It’ll be interesting to see how taking away these defining elements will affect the ratings. What’ll also be interesting? Seeing if Hyland will be as brilliant/ cringe- worthy as Brucker when she sings Hula Hanna.