NBC's 'Hairspray Live': What Was Different From the 2007 Movie Musical?

Hairspray Live! Cast
Brian Bowen Smith/NBC

(l-r) top row: Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton, Martin Short as Wilbur Turnblad, Kristin Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussle, Garrett Clayton as Link Larkin, Ephraim Skyes as Seaweed J. Stubbs; bottom row: Shahadi Wright Joseph as Little Inez, Derek Hough as Corny Collins, Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad, Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad, Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle and Dove Cameron as Amber Von Tussle, in Hairspray Live!

Hairspray Live! was quite the exciting TV event for those who really love Hairspray, no matter if we're talking about the 1988 movie, the Broadway play or the 2007 big-screen remake (or all three).

But with the Adam Shankman-directed film -- starring Zac Efron, John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky and more -- being the reprise of most recent memory, it's hard not to compare the movie musical version to NBC's live-action special. So we did. 

Check out the differences we noticed between the 2007 movie musical and Hairspray Live! below.

Noreen and Doreen Are Missing

Perhaps one of the smaller details that only mega Hairspray movie fans will notice (Noreen and Doreen weren't in the Broadway version), there's nobody with rhyming names in the role call during "Nicest Kids in Town." In Hairspray Live!, Luanne is followed by a girl named "Kooks," while in the movie it's Joey, a quick-take of several people and then the ever-so-memorable Noreen and Doreen. Sorry gals, guess you didn't make the cut for live television.

"Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now" Wasn’t Staged in the Movie

While this song did make it onto the movie's soundtrack, the scene was too difficult to stage for the movie version, so they put the track in the credits rather than featuring it in the film. But it was one of the first numbers in the live TV special, featuring Penny Pingleton (Ariana Grande), Amber Von Tussle (Dove Cameron) and Tracy Turnblad (Maddie Baillio) and their moms. Staging it was apparently not a challenging task for the Hairspray Live! gang, because it was flawless.

"New Girl In Town" Was Given the Boot

There were a few songs included in Hairspray Live! that didn't make it into the movie, but with one track it was the opposite situation: "New Girl In Town," performed by Brittany Snow's Amber in the movie, was totally cut from the live-action special. Perhaps it was the joke about the girl getting hit by a moving van at the very end of the song...

The Location of "I Can Hear The Bells" Changed

In the movie, this scene took place at school, with Tracy and Penny walking the halls as Tracy daydreams about being with the handsome heartthrob Link Larkin (and eventually creeps on him in the bathroom). But in Hairspray Live!, Tracy sings "I Can Hear The Bells" in the Corny Collins Show studio before she tries to audition for the show.

"Ladies' Choice" Was Sung by a Different Dreamy Dude

As indicated by the song's name, "Ladies' Choice" is a tune fit for a hunk -- but apparently not always the same hunk. While the track is Link’s song in the movie (as played by Efron), it was Derek Hough's Corny Collins’ tune in the TV musical.

"It Takes Two" Wasn't a Thing in the Movie

Just like "Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now," Link Larkin's swoon-worthy love song was on the movie's soundtrack, but not a scene in the film. But Garrett Clayton certainly got his solo in Hairspray Live!, crooning to all of the ladies -- mostly a flustered Tracy -- and making Efron lovers everywhere wish this scene had been part of the 2007 movie version.

Velma Von Tussle Did a Lot More High-Pitched Singing

While Michelle Pfeiffer made for one classic evil lady in the movie role of Velma, it was apparent that a Broadway star had taken her place in the live-action TV special. There were quite a few over-the-top, high-pitched endings to her numbers that Pfeiffer definitely didn't attempt on the silver screen.

The Dodgeball Scene Was Different

Similar to that of the original 1988 film, the dodgeball scene was definitely prominent -- with Tracy getting totally clocked by Amber. If this didn't look familiar to those who love the 2007 movie, it's because they snuck the dodgeball knockout into one of the songs. Featured in "I Can Hear The Bells" (as you can see above), Tracy still gets taken down by a ball, but not nearly to the degree that she did on TV.

?Amber Didn't Sing "Cooties" in the Movie

Apparently the movie producers thought that Tracy had suffered enough teasing throughout the first three-fourths of the movie because Amber didn't perform the song "Cooties," which is all about making fun of Tracy. But that didn't stop NBC from including it in the live version. (Spoiler alert: Tracy still comes out on top.)


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