The ratings success of live musicals on TV, such as “The Sound of Music” and “Grease,” has led to more being planned over the next year, including “Bye Bye Birdie,” “A Christmas Story,” “Rent” and “Jesus Christ, Superstar,” which NBC plans to run as an Easter special. “Jesus Christ Superstar” has an undeniably great musical score by Andrew Lloyd Webber, but it has long been controversial among people of faith. Jews have complained that it depicts them as the villains, while Christians have protested that the script is blasphemous. It depicts Jesus’ last days and Crucifixion from the sympathetic viewpoint of Judas, puts words into Jesus’ mouth that He never said, and depicts him not as Divine but, as librettist Tim Rice put it, “simply the right man at the right time at the right place.”
In choosing that as their big Easter event, I can’t help wondering if NBC executives are out of touch with the Christian audience or so unfamiliar with the Bible that it simply never occurred to them that anyone would find that objectionable.