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What We Learned at ‘The Wiz Live!’ DGA Event

Wednesday night's lovefest for "The Wiz Live!" at the DGA offered a sneak peek at above and below-the-line Emmy contention.

The Wiz Live

David Alan Grier, Shanice Williams, NE-YO, Elijah Kelley (photo by Chris Haston/NBC)

NBC touted its Emmy-contending “The Wiz Live!” with a FYC event Wednesday night at the DGA Theater, featuring a cast and crew panel and two live performances (original song, “We Got It,” and “Home”).

Queen Latifah (The Wiz), Mary J. Blige (Evillene), David Alan Grier (the Cowardly Lion), NE-YO (the Tin Man), Shanice Williams (Dorothy), Elijah Kelley (the Scarecrow) and Amber Riley (Addaperle) were joined by exec producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, director Kenny Leon, choreographer Fatima Robinson and music producer Harvey Mason Jr.

Ne-Yo, Grier, Kelley and Williams performed “We Got It,” and Williams (who earlier this year received a Critic’s Choice nom) sang the melancholy “Home.”

NBC launched the successful live musical revival in 2013 with “The Sound of Music.” “The Wiz Live!,” which aired last December 3rd in honor of the 40th anniversary of the ground-breaking Broadway musical, is contending for Special Class Program Emmys against “Grease Live!,” the Oscars, and the Super Bowl 50 telecasts.

In addition to likely Emmy noms for acting and directing, there should be crafts recognition for original song “We Got It” (written by R&B singer Ne-Yo and Kelley), production design (Derek McLane), costume design (Paul Tazewel, Tony-nominated for “Hamilton”),  makeup (Dave and Lou Elsey) and hair (Charles LaPointe).

This multi-media hybrid was a melding of classic and contemporary looks and styles: Addaperle’s hair and costume used fiber optics, LED lights made for scenic backdrops that popped and easier transitions, the choreography utilized the Vogue and the Dab, and the Lion and Tin Man costumes deployed water tubes for ventilation.

The overall takeaway came from director Leon. He not only proclaimed that pulling off a live three-hour musical was harder than all of his 11 Broadway shows, but that the multi-cultural and multi-generational power of “The Wiz Live!” served as a needed beacon of hope during the racial violence that plagued the year-end holiday season.


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