NBC Names 'The Wiz' as Next Live Adaptation, but Who Will Fill Diana Ross and Michael Jackson's Shoes?
NBC has announced the newest installment of its live musical broadcasts, declaring that The Wiz will be the next target of its ambitions, following the performance of Peter Pan during 2014 and The Sound of Music during 2013, starring Carrie Underwood. As Music Times previously reported, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the original Broadway treatment of the urban Wizard of Oz adaptation.
The production is scheduled for December 3, and will be produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron—the same duo behind the previous NBC musical broadcasts. Kenny Leon, a Tony winner for his treatment of A Raisin In The Sun during 2014, will direct.
No cast has been suggested yet, but those familiar with the acclaimed 1978 film version of the play are expecting fireworks. That rendition featured a star-studded cast involving Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, and Richard Pryor as the titular Wiz. We can only hypothesize as to what NBC has in mind. All we know is that Usher isn't too old to play a scarecrow, if they opt for the R&B superstar route. Jennifer Hudson's will do her time on Broadway this fall as well, starring in The Color Purple. We're just saying.
The concept of The Wiz revolves around the plot of The Wizard of Oz, set in Manhattan versus Kansas, as Dorothy leaves from her home in Harlem and heads south along the yellow brick road, meeting the usual cast of characters along the way.
We'll have to see how well it does before we get our hopes up for another musical adaptation during 2016. Although Sound of Music drew 22 million viewers during 2013, Peter Pan dropped to 9.1 million viewers (and got negative reviews to boot). The brass as NBC will allow The Wiz to serve as the deciding round in a best-of-three, no doubt.