Vanessa Hudgens to Star in DC Comics Comedy Pilot ‘Powerless’ at NBC

    Vanessa Hudgens has been cast in NBC’s DC Comics comedy pilot “Powerless,” Variety has learned. The starring role is Hudgens’ first gig after “Grease Live” for which she received rave reviews.

    Based on characters from the DC universe, “Powerless” is a workplace comedy set at one of the worst insurance companies in America — with the twist being that it also takes place in the universe of DC Comics. The show is about the reality of working life for a normal, powerless person in a world of super heroes and villains.

    Hudgens will play Emily Locke, an insurance claims adjuster who loves her job because she gets to help people. The character likes to fly under the radar and just get her work done, and she finds herself increasingly exasperated by the disruptive antics of the various Super Heroes that proliferate in her city.

    The role marks Hudgens first regular role on a TV series. The triple-threat rose to worldwide fame on Disney Channels “High School Musical,” which spawned two sequels, including a theatrical release. Most recently, she stunningly played Rizzo on Fox’s live “Grease” TV musical, and was touted as the star of the show, despite her father passing away just hours before the broadcast. Her many film credits include “Spring Breakers,” alongside James Franco, “Machete Kills” and “Sucker Punch.” She is repped by CAA.

    “Powerless” hails from Warner Bros. Television, and is latest DC project to make its way to television, following the CW’s “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Legends of Tomorrow” and “iZombie” from DC’s Vertigo imprint, Fox’s “Gotham” and “Supergirl” on CBS. Should the pilot go to series, it would be the only DC comedy on television.

    The single-cam, 30-minute comedy was penned by Ben Queen who will exec produce. Michael Patrick Jann will direct the ensemble pilot.

    “Vanessa and I got really close, really fast. She’s just an incredible human being, such a pro and she’s just so warm,” Jordan revealed. “She’s the kind of person that doesn’t meet a stranger. Our first time meeting it was our publicity shoot for the show and it was the first time we were all together as a cast. I was in the chair getting my hair and makeup done, and she came in and kissed my cheek and said ‘Hey I’m Vanessa’ and I’m like OK, all of my high school dreams’ are coming true. And I’m like, 'Hi I’m Jordan,’ and she said, 'Yeah I know.’ And then she just started talking about her family, her dog, her boyfriend and her life and then I started talking about my life and that was that.” - Jordan Fisher

    Fisher also has a special place in his heart for the performance of Vanessa Hudgens, whose father passed away one day before she portrayed Rizzo in the production. He says that last Sunday was a true demonstration of Hudgens’ power as a performer.

    JF: “We all went to [Vanessa] in our own ways, and at our own times, and asked her what she needed, or how we could make the day as easy for her as possible, so that she could focus on her work,” Fisher recalls. “Her response to everybody was, ‘Honestly, the best thing for me in this moment is to be here right now, with you guys.’ That was her attitude the whole day. Obviously it was hard here and there—that’s not going to be easy for anybody. She’s a pro, and she handled the day like a pro.

    “That kind of inspiration was a big upper for us and our energy, honestly,” he continues, “and definitely helped all of us in our performances and journeys throughout the day. We could see how she was handling it, how dedicated she was to giving everybody the best Rizzo she could possibly give. I’m biased because I love her, but I think she was just phenomenal.”

    Tell me about the mood on set, knowing that Vanessa Hudgens’s father had passed the night before. Everyone’s talking about her big solo and the strength that must’ve taken.
    CRJ: The type of closeness that you get with being on a project like this so for long, it’s a different type of closeness than I’ve ever experienced. The Pink Ladies, especially, I think we all are kind of in love with each other at this point. We were aware of the concerns with Vanessa’s father’s health leading up to this point, and we’d been there for her through the thick and thin of it. The timing of this was heartbreaking, none of us could believe it. But we all just cocooned her; we hugged around her and told her, “This one’s for you.” There’s a point between scenes where everyone’s running around, but we all quickly got dressed and were holding hands backstage watching her as she did that solo. God, did that girl kill it. We were proud beyond words. I think she is such a professional and such a talent. Her strength, to me, is one of the most inspiring things. I’ve told her time and time
    again that she’s my hero.

    “Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo is so amused at how much of a bitch she herself is. For the first forty minutes of the show, she delivers every line with snark, condescension, and most importantly, real-life IDGAF that’s usually missing from Rizzo…even while she still pays attention to what’s going on at Rydell. It’s a balance that’s really hard to find – dare I say Hudgens manages it better than Stockard Channing did? I’m really sorry, but I think I do. She was note-perfect. She cracked her gum in perfect time. If you didn’t see the show and think people gave her great reviews because she had a personal tragedy, nothing could be further from the truth.”

    Corey Cott on Vanessa Hudgens

    “A unsolicited compliment from Cott could make a anyone’s day, and while he’s admittedly still getting used to his rockstar status, his Gigi co-star Vanessa Hudgens could teach him a thing or two about fan followings. “She’s become like a sister,” Cott says of the High School Musical star. “She is so easy to talk to, and she’s not in anyway a diva.”

    The Disney Channel film came out when Cott was 16, and he was playing on the basketball team and performing in the school play at the time. “I am Zac Efron!” Cott jokes of the actor, who played Troy Bolton — a basketball star turned theater geek. He even confesses that he sang “Breaking Free,” the famed duet from the film, with a female classmate. “When I first met Vanessa, I showed her, and we laughed so hard,” he adds.

    Cott goes on the pontificate about how entities like High School Musical and also Glee and even YouTube have made musical theater more accessible to the masses, and shows like American Idol and The Voice have changed how we view talent.

    “I don’t know if musical theater is as prestigious as it used to be, you know? Because I think the ability to act and sing has gotten diluted a little bit; it’s everywhere,” Cott says. “Like I fully support High School Musical and Glee and all that stuff. It’s just changed it.”