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Jennifer Lopez: NBC's 'Bye Bye Birdie' evokes stage roots

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/18/2017 By LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer
Jennifer Lopez attends the NBCUniversal portion of the 2017 Winter Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jennifer Lopez attends the NBCUniversal portion of the 2017 Winter Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Jennifer Lopez says NBC's version of "Bye Bye Birdie" will bring the musical back to its stage roots.

Jennifer Lopez attends the NBCUniversal portion of the 2017 Winter Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jennifer Lopez attends the NBCUniversal portion of the 2017 Winter Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

The story was somewhat "watered down" in the 1963 movie in which Janet Leigh played the role originated by Chita Rivera on Broadway in 1960, Lopez told a TV critics' meeting Wednesday.

In the play, Rivera's Rose encounters resistance from her boyfriend's mother because she doesn't want her son marrying someone with Puerto Rican roots, Lopez said.

That dynamic will be part of the live TV musical airing later this year, Lopez said. So will her character's assertiveness about trying to steer her partner toward marriage, the actress said.

Lopez, who's called "Bye Bye Birdie" a childhood favorite, said it's a "great part for me to do. So here we go."

She's a busy woman, both on and off camera. Lopez stars in and is a producer for NBC's police drama "Shades of Blue" and is a producer-judge on the network's upcoming competition series, "World of Dance."

"Bye Bye Birdie Live!" is the latest in what has become an annual live-musical holiday tradition for NBC, with last December's "Hairspray Live!" the most recent production.

"Birdie" is an homage to circa-1950s rock 'n' roll mania and centers on the character Conrad Birdie, who is reminiscent of a young Elvis Presley. He was played on stage by Dick Gautier, who died last week at age 85.

ABC aired a 1995 TV-movie version starring Jason Alexander and Vanessa Williams.

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