Harry Live!: Grammy winner joins cast of NBC live musical event

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Michelle Rose / TV Media
Crooner and actor Harry Connick Jr. to star in live adaptation of "Annie"

Crooner and actor Harry Connick Jr. to star in live adaptation of "Annie"

Harry Live!: Through his Christmas albums, TV specials and holiday performances, singer/bandleader Harry Connick Jr. is known for providing musical magic at Christmas. He'll be doing it again this December, but don't expect him to sing "The Happy Elf" or "(It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus." No, he'll probably be singing "I Don't Need Anything But You" or "New Deal for Christmas."

If you can't quite place these song titles, they're from the Tony-winning Broadway musical "Annie," which is being adapted as NBC's next big TV musical event.

The live production is already scheduled to air Thursday, Dec. 2 (mark your calendars), and the cast is slowly coming together, with Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson ("Empire") on board as the villainous/opportunistic orphanage caretaker, Miss Hannigan. She'll be joined by Connick Jr., who is set to play the role of Sir Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, the billionaire who takes in little orphan Annie.

In a media statement, Connick Jr. said, "I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to play Daddy Warbucks in 'Annie Live!', and working alongside Taraji P. Henson is a dream come true. I love this show, and its musical message of love and hope couldn't come at a better time."

Executive producer Robert Greenblatt added, "We are thrilled to have Harry Connick Jr. playing Daddy Warbucks. He's a true entertainer who sings -- and dances -- with the best of them, and he will bring a completely fresh approach to this character. And he will give Taraji P. Henson's Miss Hannigan a run for her money for Annie!"

Connick and Henson are the latest additions to the list of famous names who have appeared in NBC live musicals, including "Glee" actor Matthew Morrison and singers Ariana Grande and Carrie Underwood.

They have all established themselves as multi-talented performers, but Connick has a slew of awards and nominations that prove he's a triple threat: he has three Grammys and an Emmy (plus two more nominations for his daytime talk show, "Harry"); he was twice nominated for a Tony; and his musical contribution to "Godfather III" (1991) was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.


'Lovecraft' ending: Sorry, "Lovecraft Country" fans. Despite its critical success and a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year, this "Best Drama Series" contender is doomed to be more of a limited series instead, since HBO has opted not to renew it for a second season.

Earlier this month, HBO released a statement saying, "We will not be moving forward with a second season of 'Lovecraft Country.' We are grateful for the dedication and artistry of the gifted cast and crew and to [showrunner] Misha Green, who crafted this groundbreaking series. And to the fans, thank you for joining us on this journey."

The series tells the story of Atticus "Tic" Freeman (Jonathan Majors, "The Last Black Man in San Francisco," 2019), his friend Letitia "Leti" Dandridge (Jurnee Smollett-Bell, "Underground") and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance, "Dangerous Minds," 1995), who embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America to find his missing father. Along the way, they encounter racist terrors and monstrous creatures that might have inspired horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.

The first (and now, only) season was based on the similarly titled novel by Matt Ruff. The problem is, there was only one novel, so there was little source material left for a second season. A similar situation occurred with "Big Little Lies," another HBO series that seemed destined to be a "one and done" production until author Liane Moriarty wrote additional material to guide its second season.

Many hoped "Lovecraft Country" would follow a similar path.

Back in February, HBO and HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys told Deadline: "Misha [Green] is working with a small team of writers and they're coming up with a take. She had a book to go on in the first season. She and the writers wanted to go off and take some time to go out and figure out without a book with these characters, what's the journey we want to go on. We all want to be sure she's got a story to tell. That's where she is right now: working on those ideas. I'm very hopeful, as is Misha, so we're giving them the time to work."

We'll never know how "Lovecraft Country: Supremacy" would have played out, but Green did tease some of her ideas for Season 2 on Twitter, where she posted a map of "a new world, and that new world is a country that sits precisely where the United States used to sit."


Beach drama: "ER," "Third Watch," "Southland," "Shameless" -- these are some of the TV shows that have had John Wells at the helm as showrunner and/or executive producer. And that list just keeps growing.

HBO Max recently handed a pilot order to "Ke Nui Road," a proposed lifeguard drama from Wells and "Animal Kingdom" writer/producer Matt Kester. It's worth noting that Wells served as an executive producer and writer on the TNT series; this time, Kester is the one who will write and executive produce the pilot, while Wells will direct and serve as an executive producer.

"Ke Nui Road" is described as a contemporary drama set on the north shore of Oahu. It focuses on "the relationships between an elite crew of heavy-water lifeguards and the teens and young adults they mentor and train in the junior lifeguard program. The junior guards program embodies the beauty, the danger, the struggle, and the spirit of aloha -- all centred on the ocean -- that is modern Hawaii" (per Deadline).

Wells set up the project last year as part of his overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. Keep in mind this one is still in development, and a pilot order doesn't guarantee it'll air -- something Wells knows all too well.

His other HBO Max project, the psychological drama "Red Bird Lane," starring Susan Sarandon, was also handed a pilot order, but HBO Max opted not to proceed with the thriller, which followed eight strangers who arrive at an isolated house and quickly realize something terrifying awaits them.