According to Variety.com, NBC has announced it will make its next live musical television event a remake of the 1975 Tony Award-winner “The Wiz.” The remake will air on December 3.
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.
In 1978, the musical was adapted into a movie produced by Motown and starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell and original Broadway cast member Ted Ross. 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 actors of color on TV, following the success of Fox’s “Empire” and ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” among other series.
“The Wiz” marks NBC’s third such production, following the success of “The Sound of Music Live!,” starring Carrie Underwood, and “Peter Pan Live!,” starring Allison Williams as 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 executive produced NBC’s “Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan,” return as executive 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.”
“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.
article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)