The Grammy- and Tony-nominated Plain White T’s could be aiming for an Emmy.
If you don’t understand the title of this article, allow me to take a minute to tell you about the most popular song of 2006. Okay, maybe not the most popular song, but if you haven’t heard of “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s, you may have been living under a rock at the time. And you’re really missing out.
The song went certified platinum in 2007 and earned a Grammy nomination for song of the year. If you still have no idea what I’m talking about, take four minutes and two seconds out of your day to watch the music video below and realize either that 1. Ohhhh, you HAVE heard this song before! Or 2. You’re way more uncultured than you realized.
Now I want you to picture “Hey There Delilah” but as a TV show. That’s right. Tom Higgenson, the lead singer of Plain White T’s, along with a group of producers, are going around LA pitching an adaptation of the song as a series to networks and studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
If you think about it, “Hey There Delilah” has every aspect of a tragic love story. A not so famous songwriter is trying to make his way in the music biz while trying to keep his relationship strong with a college student back in New York City. Although the man in the song never specifies where he’s at in accordance to his love, other than “I’m a thousand miles away,” they’re obviously pretty far apart.
So what kind of story is this song setting up? Essentially, it’s not a story we haven’t heard before. Two people meet each other, and after falling in love they have to physically part ways. Relationships like this happen on TV shows, in movies, in books, and, obviously, in music.
But Higgenson thinks that it can be more than that, and so does Lively McCabe Entertainment, whose co-present Michael Barra stated, “‘Hey There Delilah’ is a perfect example of an iconic story song that has introduced characters and a premise to a massive multigenerational audience and is begging to be expanded into a full-length story for contemporary television audiences.” The series they’re pitching is described as an expanded story within the song, a “contemporary fairy tale,” as THR calls it.
Higgenson is also excited to bring this song to a new generation, to give them “the chance to form their own connection with the song,” he says, “and fall in love with its story through this new project.”
“Hey There Delilah” the song leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions that this series could answer. For instance: Does our songwriting hero end up paying the bills with his guitar? And, follow-up, do they have it good? Do they have the life they knew they would? Or, does he actually walk to her if he has no other way? Times Square may not shine as bright as Delilah, but walking a thousand miles seems like a lot to walk just for one girl. These are the questions that haunt me.
But in all seriousness, this could be a big step for adaptations in the film industry. We so often see cases of books becoming movies, or movies becoming TV shows, or TV shows getting their own movie, etc. A song becoming a TV show? That’s pretty cool.
This isn’t the first example in 2018 where something a little unorthodox was announced for adaptation. In early June, The Wrap announced that IT producer Dan Lin is taking on “The Untitled ‘Dear David’ Project.” For those of you who are unfamiliar, “Dear David” took the internet by storm when Twitter user and Buzzfeed writer Adam Ellis sent out this simple yet haunting tweet:
From there the thread expanded into the story of a ghost child haunting this man, filled with blurry images of “David” and the strange things that Ellis encounters.
Of course, there are also some examples of classic songs that have been adapted into films. Take Jolene, for example, starring Jessica Chastain as the title character inspired by Dolly Parton’s 1973 song by the same name (and also adapted from E.L. Doctorow’s book “Jolene: A Life”). There are also a number of holiday films, like the 19stop-motion Christmas film Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town about the origin story of Santa Claus starring Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle.
Other examples include the movies Frosty the Snowman, The Christmas Shoes, Alice’s Restaurant, Ode to Billy Joe, Convoy, Bad Romance, Monster Mash, Purple People Eater., and Harper Valley PTA, which also became a TV series. “Hey There Delilah” definitely won’t be the first example of a song-to-screen adaptation, but it may be the first example of an unwanted adaptation.
Delilah is, in fact, a real girl that Higgenson met. Contrary to the song, though, there wasn’t a relationship between the two. From the September/October 2007 edition of Columbia College Today we learn that Delilah DiCrescenzo met Higgenson in the early 2000s when he told her “I have a song about you already.” Delilah had a boyfriend at the time, and a year later “Hey There Delilah” was playing everywhere that Delilah went.
“There was pressure to live up to this ideal. I didn’t know how to be polite but, you know, ditch him,” DiCrescenzo told the college alumni publication. The two didn’t end up together, but I’m sure Delilah is still suffering through the popularity of the song. Who knows how she’s going to feel about the upcoming TV show dedicated to the relationship that she never had with Higgenson.
Higgenson isn’t actually new to the world of TV. I’m sure we can ALL recall his classic appearance on iCarly after Spencer saved Higgenson from a falling sign at the mall. Just kidding, I’m sure no one remembers that. Probably because it’s one of the few (five) times that Plain White T’s had a writing credit on a TV show that wasn’t for “Hey There Delilah.” But it is a prominent example of how much the band meant to the generation of the Plain White T’s in their prime.
Plain White T’s have also been in the Broadway spotlight for a bit this year, as they contributed the song “BFF” to SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, alongside other music artists including Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! at the Disco, and many more. Technically they received a Tony nomination for their efforts, as the musical was up for Best Original Score, but they lost to The Band’s Visit by David Yazbek.
While we don’t know what kind of other characters the show will have, who is set to star, or who will direct the “Hey There Delilah” series, we know that we’ll be able to live through the glory of the song’s popularity for a little bit longer.
At least we can probably guess what the show’s theme song will be.