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Cowell Casting for New 'Grease' Stars in U.K.

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Pop impresario Simon Cowell is turning his attention to the West End stage and promising "the biggest casting call the U.K. has ever seen" as part of a new TV series that will find two unknowns to play Sandy and Danny in a new theater production of "Grease."

In the United States, NBC will premiere a similar show, "Grease: You're the One that I Want," on January 7.

ITV's "Grease" will form the backbone of the British broadcaster's summer schedule, and is part of an emerging British trend that sees would-be stars audition for major stage roles through reality TV shows.

"We've been thinking about making this program for years," said Cowell, adding that he thought "Grease" was "the best musical of all time." His Syco TV production shingle will co-produce the show for ITV.

BBC had a surprise hit with "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?," in which Andrew Lloyd Webber searched for a star to play the lead in a new version of "The Sound of Music." The show, which was won by Connie Fisher, is currently wowing audiences and critics at London's Palladium.

ITV already has poached Webber's "Maria" co-star, theater producer David Ian, to be a judge on the panel as well as the producer of the West End version of "Grease."

The BBC, meanwhile, has said it is following up on the success of "Maria" with a new search, this time to find cast members for Lloyd Webber's production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

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Mimi Turner writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

For more news from The Hollywood Reporter, click here.

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