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NBC Making Plans for a Live TV Version of the Musical, ‘The Wiz’

NBC Making Plans for a Live TV Version of the Musical, 'The Wiz'

In case you haven’t
noticed, NBC has gone back to the “Golden Age of Television” – a period during the 1950’s – with live TV versions of popular Broadway

First there
was “The Sound of Music,” and, more recently, “Peter Pan” with Christopher Walken as Captain
Hook. Though both programs were derided, especially “Peter Pan” (which, from the brutal
reviews, sounded like the unintentional laugh riot of the year – too bad I
missed it), both did very well for NBC. So why not keep doing them?

Originally, the
network announced that their next live TV Broadway musical extravaganza was
going to be “The Music Man,” but NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt
seems to have changed his mind, and may do something else instead. And that
something else could be “The Wiz.”

As he was quoted
today, during the Television Critics Association winter press tour: “The Music Man is something we have optioned the rights to, and we’re
looking very seriously at some casting options, but we’ve also optioned the
rights to ‘The Wiz.’ That could be what we do instead.”

No need to
tell you that the Black musical version of Frank Baum’s eternal “The Wizard of
Oz” was a smash Broadway hit, when it opened in 1975, winning several Tony Awards, including
best musical. But mosts today are more familiar with the imperfect, and
yet beloved 1978 film version, directed by Sidney Lumet (admittedly out of his
element, as he later confessed himself), with Diana Ross, Richard Pryor, Nipsey Russell, Lena Horne  and, of course, Michael Jackson as the scarecrow.

Whether NBC
goes ahead with their plans to make “The Wiz” first, or wait until after “The Music
Man,” the question, no doubt, in everyone’s mind is, who are they going to get to play the roles?


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