NBC Reveals ‘The Wiz’ as Next Live TV Musical Special

the wiz nbc musical
Universal Studios

NBC will ease on down the road for its next live musical television event: “The Wiz” will take centerstage Dec. 3, the net announced Monday.

“The Wiz” marks NBC’s third such production, following the success of “The Sound of Music Live!,” starring Carrie Underwood, and “Peter Pan Live!,” in which Allison Williams played the title character.

“The Wiz” will be co-produced by Cirque du Soleil’s new stage theatrical division. After the television event, the musical will make its Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season, also presented by Cirque du Soleil.

Casting for both projects has yet to be announced.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who exec produced NBC’s “Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan,” return as exec producers. Kenny Leon directs both the TV production and the Broadway revival, along with Harvey Fierstein, who will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to not only produce this as our next live musical for NBC, but to then see it move to Broadway for a new generation to experience,” said Zadan. Meron added, “It will be a joy to work again with Kenny Leon, who did ‘Steel Magnolias’ and ‘Raisin in the Sun’ with us.”

Opening in 1975, “The Wiz” ran for four years on Broadway and won seven Tonys, including best musical. It retells the classic story of “The Wizard of Oz” in an African-American context. NBC’s announcement of the holiday television event comes at a time when broadcast networks are setting more diversified roles and casting more and more minority actors on TV, following the success of Fox’s “Empire” and ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” among other series.

“We love this yearly tradition, and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt. “It’s a natural next step for our live musical events, and we’re so pleased to be in business with this award-winning creative team and Scott Zeiger, president and managing director of Cirque du Soleil’s new theatrical division. Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love.”

“We are delighted that NBC and Cirque du Soleil will present ‘The Wiz,’” Zeiger said. “It’s a musical I have wanted to produce for years, and it’s the perfect show to present under the new Cirque du Soleil Theatrical banner.”

Earlier this year, Greenblatt confirmed that the Peacock had licensed the rights to “The Wiz,” which was a contender for 2015 along with “The Music Man.”

“The Wiz” is adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” by L. Frank Baum, with Brown’s book and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. Universal Television will produce.

Fox is following in NBC’s footsteps with a live television production of “Grease,” starring Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens, slated for Jan. 31.

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  1. Rick says:

    This was the most racest, unbelievey uncomfortable thing I have ever watched. I am white and I felt bad for Africans who turned it on. It was a disgrace… made me sick watching it.

  2. terron says:

    Who is playing the lion

  3. Bob says:

    What channel will it be on

  4. ZulmaHawaii says:

    I don’t like the word minority actor, I prefer the word, actors of color.

  5. Rick says:

    Let’s do an all white Porgy and Bess!

  6. David says:

    I believe the Wiz is a Racist show as it is an purposely casted ALL black show of the wizard of OZ. The Black community doesn’t mind when they are the racist group and things go in their favor but when they are the not they scream the black card. The Sound of Music when it was made was all white but the live version had Blacks in it, where are the whites in the Wiz. I watch the news and I watch the blacks screaming when they feel they have been a target of racism but I don’t hear anyone screaming when it is the white community being the target of racism

    • Lesli says:

      So glad to see that someone feels the same!!!! If the whites made a point to say all white cast……let the riots begin!!!

  7. Bob says:

    Can’t wait for this. Loved the show, the movie not so much. I think Koryn Hawthorne finalist from The Voice season that just ended would make a great Dorothy!

  8. Yvonne Haldane says:

    I love these shows and since i am not able to be in New york for the Broadway shows this is my little piece of a treat..love drama and music. Thanks BBC ABC. And CSN for my treats.

  9. They better do what ever it takes to get Diana Ross and Stephanie Mills to be in it some how, it won’t be right unless they are involved

  10. Angel Summer says:

    Why does NBC have to do this every year show…. till they get it right? The last two sucked !

  11. Madeleine says:

    Why use a photo from the (awful) movie starring Diana Ross and not the (splendid) musical starring Stephanie Mills? The NBC musical will be based on the musical not the movie.

    • diamonion says:

      But will the revival be based on the original play or the movie? Either way, Black Dynamite did it better.

  12. Matt says:

    That is a great idea. I am usually not impressed with NBC, as every sitcom has the exact same lame theme, but this idea is excellent.

  13. I saw “The Wiz” on DVD a couple of years ago, and I actually thought it was a bit of a mess. Michael Jackson was OK, and the guy who played the Cowardly Lion practically stole the show. But Diana Ross was horribly miscast. I’ve always felt that this show deserved a new film adaptation. I’ll look forward to this.

  14. wernerml says:

    I hope NBC figures out how to get all the air conditioner noise out of the quiet portions of the show. In both previous examples the whir of fans was very annoying when it wasn’t covered by music and singing.

  15. micrenspe says:

    Showing the movie version in your headline picture. . .tsk tsk tsk! The only “Real” Wiz was the stage musical especially with Stephanie Mills. You should the picture to the stage cast with Stephanie. The movie version was YUK!!!

  16. Jacques Strappe says:

    NBC takes a wiz on another musical. Are they trying to destroy live theater?

  17. cadavra says:

    Let me be the first to say it:

    Kevin Hart as the leader of the Lollipop Guild!

  18. Honey says:

    The Wiz was a musical adapted from the Wizard of Oz. If the Wiz is outdated then the Wizard of Oz must also. More, from what I can gather, the television adaptation will be based on the Braodway production which was stellar, not the very political and bad movie production.

  19. Don216 says:

    As long as they keep Allison Williams far from the production, should be good

  20. Rachel says:

    I don’t understand the negative comments. This show is wonderful. The movie is nothing like show. They changed the script a lot. I think with just a little of updating but not much, will make it perfect for today’s audiences. I love The Wiz!

  21. jhs39 says:

    It will be hard for NBC to make a worst version than the 1978 movie. Hopefully they will have an age appropriate actress play Dorothy–Diana Ross looked at least 20 years too old for the part. Sidney Lumet (Serpico & Dog Day Afternoon) was also clearly not a good choice to be directing a musical. It will be interesting to see how much interest there still is in The Wiz–it’s a very 1970’s musical from what I remember unlike The Sound of Music and Peter Pan which are both more timeless. I think doing an update of My Fair Lady would be a better idea–it’s so obvious that Audrey Hepburn isn’t actually singing it really hurts the movie–but whomever has the rights is trying to get that one remade on the big screen with Keira Knightly in the lead.

    • Ken says:

      Actually, Audrey Hepburn does sing a little in MY FAIR LADY (Marni Nixon providing most of the vocals)…and anyway, she was utterly charming in the role. “Hurts the movie”? Millions would beg to differ. It’s a class act.

  22. Comedic Relief says:

    There’s NO WAY this has aged well. The potential for politically incorrect, racist, lead balloon crashing moments is HUGE. The Twitterverse will have a field day with it.

    Especially considering the old white Jewish guys they have producing and writing new material — seriously, Zadan, Meron and Fierstein are going to make this hip and cool and relevant to today’s audience?

    I see a train wreck on the horizon, just beyond the Emerald City!

  23. David says:

    Bad choice. Why can’t they do something more contemporary?

  24. Mark says:

    Nellie Andreeva’s head just exploded … again.

  25. Has to be better than the movie….which made a number of terribly misguided alterations.

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