Stage-to-screen impresarios Zadan and Meron are getting back to what they know and love: live musical productions. The producing duo behind the 2015 Oscars, whose ratings sank and whose host Neil Patrick Harris fell flat after two successful years, will be mounting “The Wiz,” the soul music re-telling of “The Wizard of Oz.” The production will take center stage on NBC December 3, 2015.
This is not Zadan and Meron’s first foray into live song-and-dance spectacles on NBC. “The Wiz” will be their third consecutive special after 2013’s “The Sound of Music Live!” starring Carrie Underwood, who had the pipes to carry Maria von Trapp. And in 2014, Zadan and Meron drummed up “Peter Pan Live!,” a magnificent failure starring Allison Williams who, between “Pan” and her simpering dullard Marnie on HBO’s “Girls,” seems to be grooming for more singing roles.
Profoundly atrocious and visually inert, “Peter Pan” did rake in over nine million viewers so of course NBC is willing to throw money at “The Wiz,” whose 1975 Broadway iteration won heaps of Tonys and inspired Sidney Lumet’s 1978 turkey starring Diana Ross.
Casting has yet to be announced, but “The Wiz” will be co-produced by Cirque du Soleil’s new stage division. The musical will make its Broadway return for the 2016-2017 season following this television event. Kenny Leon will be staging both the NBC and Broadway productions, along with Harvey Fierstein, who has apparently breathed new life into William F. Brown’s Broadway book.