Scoop: ABC Plots a Return to Oz

When I tell you that Salma Hayek is bringing a wicked new project to ABC, I mean that quite literally.

Sources confirm that the actress-producer is teaming with ABC to develop an eight-hour miniseries adaptation of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, the Gregory Maguire bestseller that spawned the Broadway phenom. The insider stresses that it would be based on the novel and not the musical. As a result, this Wicked would be less of a prequel and more of a parallel story to The Wizard of Oz. (Universal, as you may know, is currently developing a Wicked film, and that would be based on the musical.)

ABC Studios will produce along with Hayek and Jose Tamez through the duo’s Ventanarosa Productions. The ex-Ugly Betty producer may also play a supporting role in the project, which is being penned by Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers).

Oh, and some juicy background: Two years ago, ABC — under then-president Steve McPherson — passed on a Wicked mini. But his successor, former ABC Family boss Paul Lee, resurrected it soon after taking the reins last summer.

Thoughts? Excited to see ABC getting back in the miniseries business? Got casting suggestions for Elphaba and Galinda? Personally, I’m rooting for Glee‘s go-to airhead, Heather Morris, as the Good Witch and Raising Hope‘s Shannon Woodward as the green one. Anyway, the comments section below is all yours! Hit it!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Kristina says:

    Sadly, I was hoping for a musical-based mini-series. I now know what “blue balls” must feel like.

    • Joe B. says:

      No, you don’t. You really don’t.

    • Steve says:

      Really hope this is based on the book and they don’t Disneyfy it like they did for the musical. The overtones with the Nazi’s and the Resistance in the book are great and should make for a great mini series. Having the Band of Brothers writer involved gives hope that it may actually be really good and not a like The Tin Man thing.

      And Idina/Kristin are totally unsuited for the roles in the book. And way too old now for a movie version of the musical too!

    • aaron says:

      they are coming out with a musical based movie also so chill and i am glad they are doing this also. no you don’t know trust me.

    • Daniel says:

      Really? Have you read the book? I love the stage production, but it is only a small fraction of the amazing story. The musical is highly entertaining, and captures the essence of Elphaba and Glinda, but really their are so many other colorful characters and SO much more story to be told. I think basing a show off the book is going to make for great television.

  2. Ehjay says:

    Oh man, I have waited for a movie/miniseries based off the novel since I read it! The musical is amazing, but it’s not the book. I’m so excited for this.

  3. Nina says:

    well I sure as hell hope to have Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel at least for the miniseries, since it seems very unlikely to have them on the movie.

  4. Michelle says:

    I’ve never seen the musical, but I wasn’t all that impressed by the book. And seriously, how many versions of it do we really need?

    • Maddie Beecher says:

      The musical was PHENOMENAL.
      thats why

    • heather says:

      I was also not impressed by the book but LOVED the musical.

    • Lily Harris says:

      I agree. The musical is AMAZING and you should definitely see it. If they make a movie, I think it should be based on the play because even though the book is good, a play will be better for ALL audiences. I think they should not make a movie and just stick with the book and play because nothing beats a good read or the magic of seeing Wicked live.

    • Daniel says:

      @ Michelle I think people enjoy the variations because the characters are so iconic both in literature and film. L. Frank Baum created an colorful world that so people have been fascinated with for the past 100 years. I grew-up reading thew 14 original OZ books, The wizard of Oz is one of the greatest films of all time and I love Wicked (both the book and the stage production) So I, personally will take as much as I can get and I’m very excited for the show

  5. amy says:

    I wonder if ABC has the guts to make the miniseries as psychologically (and sexually) screwed up as the book? And as long as we’re mentioning “Ugly Betty,” what about Becki Newton for Glinda?

    • Quey says:

      I was wondering the same thing, Amy. It’s been a few years since I’ve read the book but I remember it being a lot more edgy than I can imagine prime time TV would allow. Though, I am glad they’re basing it off the book over the musical.

  6. Lynsey says:

    Heather Morris isn’t quite saccharine enough to be Galinda, though your casting choice for Elphaba is pretty much perfect.

  7. Donnoe says:

    This is amazing! I love this book (and really dislike the musical). Joanna Garcia as Galinda!

  8. mina says:

    They definitely need to put Idina and Kristin somewhere in all those Wicked project!! They are THE witches of Oz!

    • Nightraven says:

      I wish everyone would move beyond Idina and Kristen!!!!! This is 2011. I have seen the musical 11 times now and have never seen Idina and Kristen. But I have seen awsome Elphabas and Glindas who were all ditzy. Carmen Cusack owned the role of Elphaba in my humble opinion. She was phenomenal. And there have been others such as Jennifer Denoia, Marci Dodd; Eden Espinosa; Lisa Breascia; Vicki Noon and the recent Jackie Burns. I didn’t care for Dee Roscioli in the role; she has an awesome voice but wasn’t believable in the role to me. Also, I read the book first and that is where I fell in love with Elphaba’s character; really got to know her. I think a miniseries based on the novel has the potential of being very good.

      • Lily Harris says:

        Have you seen Mandy Gonzalez? PHENOMENAL. And I agree… people need to get over Idina and Kristen, they’re good, but Many other actresses who are even BETTER (Mandy Gonzalez and Katie Rose Clarke :D) have come along. They need to get over Idina and Kristen… they only love them cause they’e the OBC… :P

      • Rachel says:

        I completely agree, Nightraven. Eden Espinosa was the Elphaba I saw on Broadway in 2004 (with Kristin & Norbort Leo Butz as Fiyero who were both amazing) and Eden ROCKED it. She was phenomenal. I also saw a touring production in Tampa a few years ago and Stephanie J. Block played Elphaba. She was fantastic as well. There are more people out there than just Idina & Kristin. Granted, they ARE the roles and are wonderful! I love Idina. She’s one of my favorite performers ever. But again, there are others out there who are just as talented who can pull off these roles.

  9. Chelsea says:

    I read the book but it just didn’t capture my interest at all and I much preferred the musical. Hopefully they’ll be a big or small screen version of that soon which is cast with actual singers and not the female equivalents of Gerard Butler.

  10. Keira says:

    I’m hoping for a Kristin Chenoweth/Idina Menzel reunion. They ARE G(a)linda and Elphaba, period!! There better be some “Defying Gravity” is all I’m saying!!! :)

    • Jayme says:

      I think Ausiello stressing that it’s based on the book and not the musical, means that there’s probably not going to be any singing.

    • Davia says:

      The book is *not* the musical. Idina and Kristin are utterly unsuited to the exceedingly political and religious novel plotlines, not to mention Glinda doesn’t have anywhere near the role she does in the musical, which expanded her part quite a bit. I’d love to see them reprise their roles for the musical movie, however. Let’s just keep in mind the book and the stage version are two completely separate entities.

      • Daniel says:

        I agree with you 100% Davia. I don’t get why people seem to be “picking sides” Musical VS Book. They are both great works in their own way and Gregory Maguire supports the play and the play realizes that it is essentially, his idea and it could not exist without his book. But you can like both and appreciate them as they are autonomous. One is a 500+ page novel and one is a family musical. Both great IMO. I look forward to the show

  11. Tom says:

    Are these the same “sources” that gave you the “exclusive” on the Justin Bieber Glee episode?

  12. toast says:

    Should be interesting… I just hope it’s better than Oz that was on SyFy last year.

  13. Brian says:

    I’d like to see Angela Lansbury as Mme. Morrible; she’s elegant but can handle being vicious, tough-as-nails…

  14. Jeanne says:

    i love your casting choices!

  15. Nicole says:

    Yikes, not Heather Morris. There are plenty of blond actresses who could do a much better job especially if it’s more based off the book. No singing or dancing means no point in casting one who can only do that and say a funny line every once in a while

  16. Kaley_T says:

    this news is so exciting! I’m so stoked!!!

  17. Maria says:

    I am so excited for this!!!!!!! I am completely obsessed with this book! The musical is awesome (I am a huge broadway, Idina, and Kristin fan), but the plot doesn’t come close to the book. They butchered and diluted the story into oblivion. After rumors of them turning the musical into a movie, this makes me so relieved!!

    • Daniel says:

      I agree with you Maria. I enjoy the play but it’s more about stage production and singing then story. As a fan of both I’m excited to see interpretations of characters like like Princess Nastoya, Nanny, Liir, Melena, Frex, Sarima and her sisters… and Fiyero in the book is a completely different character then he is in the play.

  18. brynna says:

    A wicked movie and a mini series? Christmas comes early this year. Can’t wait for both.

  19. Emily Sigal says:

    This is some of the best Wicked news I’ve read. I hope they don’t water down the book in a mini-series. The book is so much better than the musical. It has amazing character development. Ugly Betty casting? I could totally see America Ferrara as Elphaba and Becki Newton as Galinda. Small screen casting dreams tho – I’d love to see Soliel Moon Frye as Elphaba, Joanna Garcia as Nessa Rose and Kristen Bell as Galinda.

  20. MikeL says:

    Sounds great! I loved the book & I can’t wait to see it.

  21. gregbythesea says:

    Brittany (Heather Morris) is awesome … best on the Glee show … she can play anything!

  22. freevoice11 says:

    I doubt ABC will go full on with this book. There is stuff in that book that would easily earn an R rating if this were to go into theaters, so I would expect a watered down version. But I’ll be glad to see it as I enjoyed the book, even if portions of it were a little tough to get threw.

    I enjoyed the musical but the only thing it shares in common with this book is its name. Everything else was twisted into the exact thing the book is not. Will have to see if this just stays a rumor or if ABC goes ahead with it.

  23. Jana says:

    Since everyone has seen Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth on Glee, it will definitely be an upset if the original witches are not brought back for this miniseries!!

  24. Summer says:

    Kristen Bell and Lea Michele.

  25. Jamie's FanGirl says:

    I was all excited about this until you said it would be based on the book…I thought the book was putrid. Nevertheless, I like the suggestion of Joanna Garcia as Glinda and Shannon Woodward would rock as Elphaba. I <3 Raising Hope!

    • Nightraven says:

      For all of you who say the book sucked or the book isn’t the musical, just remember, without the book there would be no musical. I love the book though have to admit parts of it are pretty bizarre. It is not a kiddy book.

  26. dee123 says:

    Yes to Kristen Bell.

  27. Johnny D says:

    YES! THANK YOU GOD! I was praying for an adaptation of the book since I read it and feared it would be lost in the hype and hubbub around the musical. Save Idina and Kristin for the movie, and cast the mini- with an eye toward the tragic, complicated arcs the two characters have in the book. Man I am so excited for this.

  28. Adam says:

    Elphaba-Natalie Portman
    Glinda-Anna Paquin
    The Wizard-William H. Macy
    Madame Morrible-Angela Lansbury
    Fiyero-Jay Hernandez
    Nessarose-Mila Kunis
    Frex (Elphaba’s Dad)-Hugh Laurie
    Nanny-Julie Andrews
    Sarima (Fiyero’s Wife)-Catalina Sandino Moreno

    • Lisa R. says:

      No way, Adam! While Natalie Portman might work for Elphaba, Anna Paquin is a terrible choice for Glinda! Glinda has to be beautiful–it’s part of her charm–and Paquin is not beautiful. Plus, she just doesn’t have the personality for it, IMHO. Although I like the idea of Hugh Laurie as Frex, it could just end up being House as someone’s dad. ;-)

    • Aimee says:

      Definitely not Anna Paquin for Glinda. I was thinking more Anne Hathaway,

    • dff127 says:

      All to old to be true to the book !

  29. Beth says:

    Heather Morris is a one note actress who can dance, she can’t come close to pulling this off. She has no range for a part like this.

  30. Lisa R. says:

    I don’t know how you can say that if the miniseries is more like the book than the musical, it would be “less of a prequel and more of a parallel story” to the original Wizard of Oz. While the book & stage production were VERY different, they were not set in different times. While doing it in a vastly different way than the book, the musical tells the same story. It does “pretty it up” a bit, as the book was at times a bit sexual & depressing, even violent, but it’s the same story none-the-less. It will be interesting to see how the miniseries plays out. I lovedlovedloved the musical, have seen it multiple times. I also loved the book; I read the whole series. I, personally, cannot get enough “Wicked”!!

    • Nightraven says:

      The book does go into a great many details that do not exist in the musical. I wouldn’t call both the same story. Fyero isn’t married in the book, nor does he have a thing with Glinda first. Glinda is a superficial character in the book, but not as much of a ditzy blonde as in the musical. She is defnitely deeper in the book. The musical is a good adaptation for the stage; I am glad it wasn’t made into a dark musical like Les Mis. The quick refernces to the use of names such as Elphaba Thropp, Fyero Tigular; Kiamo Ko, etc. would be lost in the musical if one has not read the books. I too loved all three books in the series and look forward to a fourth one coming out. I had heard it would be late 2010 or early 2011. I wonder if it has been written yet.

  31. E. Conegliano says:

    Heather Morris = incredible success every time. Dominates every scene without Jane Lynch in Glee Holds her own with Jane Lynch in their scenes. It’s no stretch to expect Ryan Murphy to give her a Fox comedy that will be more popular than a non-musical “Wicked.” If this serious “Wicked” passes on Heather, it lowers its already dim chances of success. I can’t imagine the musical movie version passing on Ryan Murphy or his Glee stable. Expect Heather to be included, but Dianna Agron was born to play Glinda to Lea Michele’s Elphaba.

  32. Aimee says:

    I would much prefer this if it was a musical but I’ll give it a try. In my eyes, the ideal casting would be:

    Glinda – Anne Hathaway or Carey Mulligan
    Elphaba – Sophia Bush
    Fiyero – Jason Ritter

  33. Tyson says:

    This is fantastic news….I understand that some of you are big fans of the musical, so this may not be as big a deal to you, but to those of us who’ve read the 3 books, this is big big news. I like some of the songs from the musical, but what i was disappointed in was how the story was changed in the musical version. The book is absolutely amazing……can’t wait to see Elphaba go up against the wizard!

  34. GMFan says:

    The book is an exploration of the development of evil and the public perception of evil. Following how rejection, persecution and oppression of an innocent can corrupt someone by illustrating all the worst aspects of politics and religion — the novel is an extraordinary and damning look at society. (Can anyone say “inflammatory rhetoric?) It is NOTHING like the gloriously fun, lighthearted musical, which is brilliant in its own way.

    I am thrilled to see Maguire’s book brought to the screen and will be grateful to see it receive eight hours. Finally the real Wicked with all its deception, violence and adultery might accomplish the author’s original intent and get the collective us to question how our own selfish behavior corrupts and destroys people…

  35. John says:

    Bette Midler for Madame Morrible!!!!! Oh yea!

  36. Conie says:

    At least for the movie – which MUST be a musical, the only choice is Kristen and Idina–saw them both on Broadway & it was the best show I have ever seen.

  37. dff127 says:

    Here is the thing.. El and Glin in the book are very young..
    So to be true, they need to cast this with some young people.
    Love Kristen and Idina, saw them 4 times in the role. BUT..alass, they are to old for the movie. Hopefully the movie will be the book, not the show. AWESOME BOOK !!!!

    • helga says:

      Well the book actually begins with baby Elphaba, so that is very young! First time through I wasn’t impressed with this chapter- but on subsequent readings it is sooo important.

      Then in the next chapter, Elphaba and Glinda are young…. around 17-18 when they arrive at Shiz. But if you keep track of the all the time gaps, they’re somewhere around 37-38 (maybe 40 even) at the end of the novel. Makes me think they’ll cast actresses in their late 20s who can sort of pull off both ends of the age spectrum with the help of makeup.

      I do hope they find someone suitably “angular” to play Elphaba. That is such a big part of the book.

  38. cammysan says:

    Nightraven, i think that some people are saying that they should make an appearance in ti somwhere, but not be G+E. Brian, i concur, Lansbury as Morrible, i’m suprised that they never attached her to the musical at some stage!

    and really whoever that cast in it, expect it to be a high budget series, just because of the nature of the books and how much detail is needed, and i seriously hope that thay don’t green screen the scenes with big scenaries, that’d be just awful, you can really tell when television shows do that. and i do reckon that with Hayek and Jendersen at the helm of this project it will boost the push for actors to want to partake in it aswell.

  39. Jennifer says:

    There should be an open casting call for this!!!!!

  40. KevyB says:

    The musical is a huge success because of the story, not because of the crappy songs, of which there are literally only two standouts. I’m not exaggerating, the rest of the songs are realllllly bad. So a miniseries based on the excellent book should do spectacularly well.

  41. Elizabeth says:

    Although the musical is incredible, the best one I have ever seen, I don’t think it would translate well onto a screen. It is something that needs to be experienced on a stage, not just watched. This show of the book should be very interesting. I hope they don’t leave out all of the undertones and dark parts of the book like I have seen done with other stories. I am definitely looking forward to this and I hope the casting is based solely on skill as actors, not just popularity like some of the choices on this thread. Just my opinion on the issue…

  42. Tanaya says:

    Elphaba- Kat Dennings or Ellen Page
    Galinda– Tiffany Thornton (From Sonny with a Chance), or Amanda Seyfried
    Fiyero–Adam Lambert,or Matt Lanter
    Nessarose–Laura Osnes, or Lucy Hale
    Boq– Adam Wylie, Michael Cera
    Morrible– Kristin Chenoweth said when she got too old to play Glinda she would want ot be Morrible,
    Dr. Dillamond– Collin Firth,
    Wizard– John Rubinstein, Christopher Walken
    I’d change most of these if it was the muscal version but these people I think would make great book versions of the characters.

  43. Michelle K M. says:

    I’ve posted this on other sites, but I cannot stress enough – I am SO SO excited about this! I have always wanted something based on the book rather than the play (despite the fact that I love them both) and am really looking forward to this… As long as they don’t destroy it.

    As for casting… I really don’t want anyone off Glee. Why not just put some unknowns in there? I think some of the suggestions here, good as they are, might just be too big to work on a miniseries like this one. I think they could get a cast of unknowns and still attract a big audience. I would put the ability to act the part before looking the part, and if there are unknowns that can act the parts better than any big names, then so be it! I’ll still watch!

  44. mary newhouse says:

    how about broadway actresses rather than film and tv personalities. they are the ones that made wicked come to life for all of us! erin mackey as galinda and dee roscelli as elphaba!

  45. Britt says:

    How can anyone possibly hate the book? If it isn’t your cup of be it…but that book is simply filled with fantastic writing, and I have yet to find a book in which I was so completely enveloped in the main character.

    Yes, there is sex…but I stopped getting offended (if I ever did) by referencing sexual intercourse, and, in fact, I believe that it did wonders to tie me into the character of Elphaba. It gave me a way to connect to her on a deeper level, rather than simply feeling pity for her.

    The musical is fantastic, but the book is equally as fantastic for the proper mature audience, that can appreciate a well versed, and sub-textually explicit novel dealing with themes such as race, oppression, sex, violence, politics, love, and the nature of evil.

    Some people enjoy different styles of stories, but it is no secret that this is a fantastic book that is well deserving of its debut (non-musical and changed) on some sort of visual medium.

  46. Daniel says:

    Lea Michele as Elphaba in a musical version would fit the bill PERFECTLY.. but since this is a book version we are talking about I would think they would find someone a bit more “edgy”

  47. kitten c. m. says:

    chenzel all the way

  48. Beth says:

    I want David Nathan Perlow as Fiyero! He was so amazing, and I thing he plays the role really well. I cant wait for the Tv series or the movie! :)

  49. Jane says:

    I am sooooo pumped for this series!! I am obsessed with the musical and I just finished the book and I love it! I have seen the musical twice and just fell in love but im excited they are basing this series off the book. I have been reading a bunch of articles about all these different movies that movie studios are working on and they are all about remakes of the wizard of oz. I hate to break it to all the people making remakes but it will NEVER top the first one. Although Tim Burton did have some mad skills with the remake of ALice and Wonderland. I am just excited this is about the book. For the cast I think that they should be Shannon Woodward as elphaba, Ryan reynolds as fiyero, and katie rose clarke as glinda!! :)

  50. Jess says:

    NO LEA MICHELE!!!!!!!!!! I absolutley love her in glee but I dont think she is really old enough to play the role and it would take away her time of being awesome on glee!!