Scott Sanders (producer)

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Scott Sanders
Scott Sanders (producer) 2012 jpg.jpg
Scott Sanders, 2012
Born 1957
St. Petersburg, Florida
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Florida[1]
Occupation Television producer, theatrical producer and film producer
Known for "Elaine Stritch: at Liberty" '"The Color Purple: The Musical", the revitalization of Radio City Music Hall in New York City,[2] the theatrical production of The Pee-wee Herman Show, and the revival of the musical Evita.

Scott Sanders is an American television producer, film producer and theatrical producer. He is best known for the theatrical musical version of Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple, of which he was Lead Producer along with Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, and Harvey Weinstein, for producing Elaine Stritch: at Liberty and the 2012 revival of the musical Evita, and for his work on numerous musical and theatrical productions.[3]

Early life[edit]

Sanders grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida and was a 1975 graduate of Gibbs High School in Pinellas County, Florida, which at the time was undergoing court-ordered desegregation, and to which he was bused. He was Class President at Gibbs. He is a 1979 graduate of the University of Florida. During college he worked as an intern in the advertising department of the St. Petersburg Times.[3]


Sanders began his career at Radio City Music Hall in New York, producing artists including Liberace, Sting, Diana Ross, and The Grateful Dead. He was Executive Producer there for 15 years and has been credited with reversing the venue’s steady decline after its near-bankruptcy in 1978. Sanders brought in rock concerts and popular cultural events including the Super Bowl halftime show and galas for President Bill Clinton.[2]

Sanders co-founded[2] and became president of Mandalay Television,[4] and executive produced six network series, including include Young Americans, starring Kate Bosworth, Ian Somerhalder, Katherine Moenning, and Michelle Monaghan; Cupid, Mercy Point, Rude Awakening, Rick Reynolds: Only the Truth is Funny, and Penn & Teller: Don’t Try This at Home. His production company "Creative Battery" was responsible for solo Broadway shows by Elaine Stritch and the Barry Humphries character Dame Edna.[5] Sanders also was Executive Producer for Queen Latifah’s jazz album, “The Dana Owens Album,” which received a 2005 Grammy nomination.[3]

In 2007 he founded Scott Sanders Productions, a film and theatrical production company based in New York City.[6]

In 2010 Sanders produced the theatrical production of "The Pee-wee Herman Show" starring Paul Reubens, first in Los Angeles and then in New York.[7] Sanders is a lead producer on the first revival production of Evita based on the life of Argentine first lady Eva Peron, staged in 2012, and starring Ricky Martin and Elena Roger.[8] Sanders and Ahmet Zappa co-produced a film written and directed by Peter Hedges, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, released by Walt Disney Pictures on August 15, 2012.[9]

In August 2012 Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sanders agreed to mount stage productions of Sony films and announced that Tootsie, the 1982 comedy starring Dustin Hoffman, would be the first project.[10]

Sanders and David Rockwell will produce the stage musical Houdini: An Original Musical with music by Stephen Schwartz and directed by Jack O'Brien.[11] Hugh Jackman was originally to have starred as Houdini, but in December 2013 Jackman said that he will not be in the musical because he could not "commit to the time". Aaron Sorkin had been named to write the book but he is no longer with the musical. The musical is aiming for the 2015-16 Broadway season.[12] David Ives is the book writer as of December 2013.[13]

The Color Purple[edit]

Sanders had read Walker's book and wanted to produce it as a musical. The project took over eight years to realize, partly due to the reluctance of Pulitzer Prize-winner Walker to give permission for the adaptation of her novel. Walker was eventually won over by Sanders, and gave her permission and support.[14] Sanders thought that it had similarities to Fiddler on the Roof – "a community of people that the audience would follow over time," and told her so.[15]

The Color Purple, which premiered at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta and opened at the Broadway Theatre in New York City in December 2005, had an all-black cast and Oprah Winfrey as an investor.[16] Sanders promoted the production with television advertising, and had hired Fantasia, an American Idol winner, for the lead role.[17] The production was noted for its contribution to a “redefinition of the Broadway crowd,” a reference to its ability to attract a multi-racial audience.[18] Later, Sanders would describe the work of producing a musical as "wrestling an octopus, keeping all the puppies in the box," and the hardest thing he had ever done, "more white-knuckle than I'd like, and the most fun I'd ever had."[19]

The Pee-Wee Herman Show[edit]

Sanders’ production opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theater in October 2010. It was dubbed by one critic “Nothing less than a bubble bath of nostalgia for the many adoring fans of Pee-wee.”[20] All advance tickets had been sold at full price. For months prior to the opening the producers and Paul Reubens used social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to the production’s advantage to stimulate media and fan interest. By opening night the Pee-wee character had acquired approximately 750,000 followers on the two sites. Sanders has said of the success of the production's use of social media, “You’re talking about a database of fans that costs zero.”[21]


Sanders was one of the producers of the musical revival "Evita," which opened in New York on April 5, 2012.[22] Efforts of the producers and star Ricky Martin using Twitter and Facebook generated about $500,000 in advance ticket sales. Both the show's website and social media efforts were in Spanish and English, and are credited with expanding the appeal of the show.[23]

The Odd Life of Timothy Green[edit]

This PG-rated movie, a fantasy, was co-produced by Sanders and opened in US theaters August 15, 2012.[24]

Production company[edit]

In 2007 Sanders started a production company,"Scott Sanders Productions," receiving funding from a private equity group which includes New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, David Kraft, Roy Furman, and Jim Fantaci, and signed a film deal with Disney.[25]

The company signed a five-year deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment in August 2012 to develop and produce live versions of Sony films.[26]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Sanders won a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event in 2002 for "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty."

In 2004 Sanders won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special for "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty" (2002).

Sanders received a 2005 nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Queen Latifah's The Dana Owens Album, a 2005 nomination for Best Special Theatrical Event for "Dame Edna: Back with a Vengeance," and was nominated in 2002 for a Best Special Theatrical Event for "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty."

In 2006 The Color Purple was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical for The Color Purple, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Play, and Best Lighting Design of a Musical.[27]

In 2012 "Evita" received three Tony nominations, for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical, and Best Choreography.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Sanders married Brad Lamm in California in 2008 in a ceremony officiated by Alice Walker, who was ordained by Universal Ministries for the event.[29]


  1. ^ Alumni of Distinction: Inducted in the 2000s. College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
  2. ^ a b c Miriam Kreinin Souccar (2002-03-11). "Showbiz insider takes the stage with new outfit". Crain’s New York Business. 
  3. ^ a b c John Fleming. "Passion for ‘Purple’ has Local Roots". "Saint Petersburg Times".  Dec. 12, 2005
  4. ^ Scott Sanders. Playbill. accessed September 29, 2011.
  5. ^ Creative Battery. The Internet Broadway Database. accessed September 29, 2011.
  6. ^ Scott Sanders Productions
  7. ^ Dave Itzkoff. "I Meant to Do That: 'The Pee-wee Herman Show' Coming to Broadway". The New York Times. May 20, 2010
  8. ^ Patrick Healy. "Ricky Martin, Elena Roger Set to Join 'Evita' Revival". The New York Times. June 9, 2010
  9. ^ Kit, Borys. "Hedges on tap for Zappa's 'Odd' movie idea". Reuters. June 11, 2009
  10. ^ Patrick Healy."Sony Pictures the Latest Studio to Make Boradway Push". The New York Times. Aug. 23, 2012.
  11. ^ Patrick Healy, [1] New York Times. January 4, 2012 Accessed September 14, 2012
  12. ^ Gioia, Michael and Hetrick, Adam. "Tony Winner Hugh Jackman Exits Broadway-Aimed 'Houdini' Musical", December 23, 2013
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Gioia, Michael. "Playwright David Ives Joins Houdini Musical Creative Team; Producers Issue Statement on Hugh Jackman Departure", December 24, 2013
  14. ^ "One man’s quest for the colour of success" Sydney Morning Herald. June 24, 2004
  15. ^ Jim Higgins. "Inspiring Journey". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. August 10, 2008
  16. ^ "Alice Walker: Jazzed About Broadway". Bloomberg Businessweek. November 21, 2005.
  17. ^ Campbell Robertson. “A Black ‘Cat,’ Catching an Elusive Audience’". The New York Times. March 20, 2008.
  18. ^ "‘The Color Purple’ draws diverse crowd." CBS News. June 6, 2006.
  19. ^ Susan Berfield, "The Making of 'The Color Purple' - a Masterpiece Becomes a Musical". Business Week, Nov. 21, 2005.
  20. ^ Charles Sherwood. “Older, but No More Mature”. The New York Times. November 11, 2010
  21. ^ Gordon Cox, “Pee-wee friends online followers to box office”. Variety, September 11, 2010
  22. ^ "Evita" Internet Broadway Database The Internet Broadway Database Accessed Aug. 29, 2012.
  23. ^ Barbara Chai, [2] The Wall Street Journal Online, March 4, 2012. Accessed September 14, 2012
  24. ^ "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" Internet Movie DatabaseAccessed Aug. 29, 2012.
  25. ^ Zachary Pincus-Roth, "'Color Purple' Producer Sanders Partners with Disney on Film and Theatre Company". Playbill, March 21, 2007.
  26. ^ Andrew Gans, "Scott Sanders Theatrical Productions will Develop/Produce Stage Versions of Sony Pictures Films". Playbill. Aug. 23, 2012.
  27. ^ Andrew Gans, "2005-2006 Tony Nominations Announced; Drowsy Leads Pack with 13 Noms". Playbill, May 16, 2006.
  28. ^ Tony Awards Official Website of the American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards [3]
  29. ^ "Brad Lamm, Scott Sanders". The New York Times, Sept. 21, 2008. p. ST16

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