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ITV commissions Cowell-fronted Grease reality show

LONDON - ITV is to screen a Simon Cowell-fronted reality television talent show to find the next stars of hit musical 'Grease' for a London West End production that will open in 2007.

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The broadcaster said it would be conducting a nationwide search to find the next Sandy Dumbrowski and Danny Zuko, with the finalists to be judged by theatre producer David Ian, who will also produce the final West End version with Paul Nicholas.

The show will be up against the BBC's forthcoming 'Any Dream Will Do', hosted by Graham Norton, which will aim to find a lead to play Joseph in 'Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat'.

Cowell said: "'Grease' in my opinion is the best musical of all time and I am incredibly excited to be given this opportunity."

There are currently no details on when the new 'Grease' TV show is likely to be screened, but it will be the third high-profile musical to get the talent show treatment on terrestrial, following BBC One's 'How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?'.

Duncan Gray, controller of entertainment at ITV, said: "'Grease' and ITV are a perfect fit -- the hunt for the new Sandy and Danny to star in the world's best known musical produced by a crack team behind 'The X Factor'".

The deal between Cowell's Syco TV and talkbackThames was brokered by Ron Taft on behalf of James Jacobs and Warren Casey, who own the US stage show rights. ITV are in the process of discussing the stage show with actors union Equity.

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