NBC’s Next Hate-Watch Spectaculars Will Likely Be The Wiz and Music Man
According to Deadline, this morning NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt announced the network had finalized a deal for the rights to The Wiz, to be produced by NBC’s The Sound of Music and Peter Pan executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
A Tony-award winning retelling of L.Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical was one of the first Broadway musicals with an all-black cast to achieve mainstream popularity, and was adapted into a 1978 movie starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor. Back in May Greenblatt announced NBC’s plans to produce the Music Man as a live musical; according to Deadline, The Wiz will be 2015’s holiday feature, followed by Music Man in 2016.
Considering NBC’s previous live musicals haven’t offered many opportunities for people of color (The Sound of Music cast was fairly lacking in diversity, and despite NBC’s fortunate revisions to Peter Pan, I still think choosing a play with such a problematic past was a terrible decision), the network’s choice to produce The Wiz is huge. Hopefully NBC will continue this new inclusivity by hiring a diverse creative team and crafting a show free of the whitewashing often seen in amateur productions.
Greenblatt also addressed the drop in ratings from Sound of Music to 2014’s Peter Pan Live, saying “The ratings weren’t what The Sound of Music was, but I really didn’t expect that they would be, I know nobody believes me but that’s OK.”
He went on to call The Wiz “catchy and cool.”