Viva Laughlin: 'High School Musical' for Adults?
Viva Laughlin: 'High School Musical' for Adults?
Kris De Leon
Kris De Leon
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
In attempt to bring forth a groundbreaking and provocative pilot, CBS has decided to launch a new series that fuses murder, comedy and chockfull of great music.  Viva Laughlin, which CBS admits to being a huge gamble, will try to capture the hearts of spectators despite some hints that U.S. audiences are not yet ready for a singing TV protagonist.

But looking at the trend nowadays, many shows and movies have already earned acclaimed reviews and a solid fan following with its musical-themed programs.

"I think this is the perfect time," co-executive producer Steve DeKnight said.  "If you look at what's really popular, its American Idol, High School Musical, Flight of the Conchords or films Dreamgirls and Once.  I think if ever there was a time to try something bold and daring and new like this, it's now."

Viva Laughlin, which is scheduled to premiere on October 18, is based on the successful BBC series, Viva Blackpool and is also inspired by another BBC hit, The Singing Detective.  It's a mystery series that uses upbeat contemporary songs to accentuate the drama and humor of the storylines.  Taking the lead is Lloyd Owen who stars as Ripley Holden, an eternal optimist and freewheeling businessman whose sole ambition is to run a casino in Laughlin, Nevada.  The cast also includes Madchen Amick (Natalie Holden), Ellen Woglom (Cheyenne Holden), Carter Jenkins (Jack Holden), Eric Winter (Peter Carlyle), and D.B. Woodside (Marcus Henckman).

In addition to the principle cast, Hugh Jackman, who also serves a one of the executive producers of Viva Laughlin, Melanie Griffith, and P.J. Byrne will also have recurring roles on the show.

DeKnight, who was the creative force behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, and co-executive producer Tyler Bensinger, whose credits include Dragnet and Cold Case, make an interesting team up for the upcoming series.

"I'm happy we have a lovely murder," Bensinger said.  "My [crime scene] procedural skills are still being used: 'We have a contusion on the back of the head.' We're trying to really use music to forward plot and deepen character."

"At its core, Buffy and Angel were very character centered," DeKnight said of the show being character driven.  "Everything else -- the visual affects, the fighting, the monsters...were all used to illuminate the characters."

"We always know when we have found the right song for a character because our writers room erupts with everyone saying, 'I love that song.'  You really get that gut feeling," DeKnight added.

DeKnight and Bensinger are also hoping to release a Laughlin soundtrack and an original cast recording in the near future.

-Kris De Leon, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
(Image courtesy of CBS)