BY Advocate Contributors
November 11 2009 11:00 AM ET
The Dynamos: Craig Zadan and Neil Meron
With Academy Award winners (Chicago), acclaimed biopics (Life With Judy Garland), crowd-pleasing box office hits (The Bucket List), and definitive versions of classic musicals (Gypsy) on their lengthy, eclectic résumé, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are among the most successful producing partners in the industry. It seems unlikely that the prolific pair should have anything left on their to-do list. “We’d always wanted but never had a hit television series,” Meron says.
Their wish was fulfilled in 2009. Drop Dead Diva, their dramedy about a shallow model reincarnated into the plus-size body of an attorney, has not only attracted such household-name guests stars as Liza, Paula, and Rosie—a rarity for a fledgling series—but proved a ratings bonanza for Lifetime. The show is also a buzzy hit with gay viewers, who, Meron says, “can relate to the struggle for acceptance.”
“Neil and I both believe in entertaining the audience while educating them and making them feel good about themselves,” Zadan says. “And we do both. Which is why Drop Dead Diva is such a perfect project for us to produce.”
Despite their success in film and television, Zadan says, “We don’t have a Hollywood sensibility as much as a New York sensibility since we both come from the theater.” 2010 will bring a remake of Zadan’s own Footloose (starring Chace Crawford) and see the two make a pronounced return to their roots. Besides producing timely Broadway revivals of two 1960s musicals—How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (with Daniel Radcliffe attached) and Promises, Promises (with gay faves Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth headlining)—the team will merge their theater and TV worlds in a collaboration with Steven Spielberg on a series for Showtime about the creation of an original musical.