Zadan was born in Miami, Florida. He moved with his family from Florida to New York City when he was 2 years old. He wrote for New York magazine and also contributed articles to such publications as After Dark. He co-produced a Broadway tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Sondheim: A Musical Tribute, featuring Angela Lansbury and Alexis Smith in 1973. He wrote a book relating the "behind-the-scenes" of the musicals of composer Stephen Sondheim titled "Sondheim & Co." in 1976, which has been updated with a subsequent edition and revisions until 1990. Meron invited Zadan to speak at a lecture series at Brooklyn College, and they became professional partners upon Meron's 1976 graduation. They worked for Joseph Papp at the Public Theater before going to California in the early 1980s to work for Peter Guber.
The duo is rapidly becoming a power force in the entertainment industry known for their careful planning, adherence to budget and uncompromising eye toward quality and honesty in their projects. The Zadan/Meron team is transforming film and television production with a philosophy and culture which is favorable to both studios and actors, yet retaining a high level of fiscal responsibility.
The legacy of Zadan/Meron works has shown specialization in reviving the film musical genre with particular note to their box office successes of Chicago and Hairspray, both based on Broadway musicals.
One hallmark of Zadan's musical remakes is cameo appearances of persons connected with earlier productions. For example, Andrea McArdle, who originated the title role in Annie on stage, featured prominently in Zadan's televised version. Chita Rivera appears briefly in Chicago; she played "Velma Kelly" in the original 1975 production.
But his film of Hairspray has the record number so far. From the original film, it featured John Waters (writer/director) as "the flasher who lives next door;" Jerry Stiller ("Wilbur Turnblad") as "Mr. Pinky;" and Rikki Lake ("Tracy") as a reporter. On the soundtrack, Lake joins Nikki Blonsky and Marissa Jaret Winokur ("Tracy" from the Broadway production) to sing "Mama I'm a Big Girl Now" over the closing credits, and Harvey Fierstein (Broadway's "Edna") can be heard briefly soon after. Mink Stole ("Tammy" in the original film) appears as the smoking woman on the street whom Waters flashes, and is also seen in the musical number, "Welcome to the 60's." Corey Reynolds ("Seaweed" in the Broadway production) appears on the soundtrack as singer of "Trouble on the Line."
Back, from Storyline Entertainment and CBS Paramount Network, is a 2009 CBS television pilot which centers on a man (Skeet Ulrich) who disappeared in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks- but who suddenly shows up, eight years later. The story follows him as he reconnects with his family and adjusts to a world that has dramatically changed. Dean Widenmann is the writer and will serve as supervising producer, while Storyline's Zadan and Neil Meron will be executive producers.
In 2008, Zadan and Meron were awarded the "Career Achievement Award" by the Casting Society of America. He has been nominated for the Emmy Award eight times, along with his co-executive producer Meron (and the respective producers).
Sondheim and Company by Craig Zadan
Paperback: 438 pages
Publisher: Perennial Library; 2nd edition (1989)
Amazon: Sondheim and Company
"Sondheim & Co" is the complete, behind-the-scenes story of the making of Stephen Sondheim's musicals. Written with the full co-operation of Sondheim himself, it examines each of Sondheim's masterpieces - including "West Side Story", "Gypsy", "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", "Company", "Follies", "A Little Night Music", "Sweeney Todd", "Sunday in the Park with George" and "Into the Woods" - as well as the other Sondheim productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in repertory, as revivals, as opera, on film, and on television. this account is based on hundreds of hours of interviews with Sondheim and his associates.
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