NBC Picks The Wiz over Music Man as Next Live Musical, Sets December Airdate and Cirque du Soleil Twist

NBC’s next live musical event will come with a literal twist (or, more likely, dozens of ’em).

The network announced on Monday that executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — the men behind NBC’s live versions of The Sound of Music and Peter Pan — will mount a live production of The Wiz in partnership with Cirque du Soleil on Dec. 3. Cirque’s new stage theatrical division will then present The Wiz as a major Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season.

Tony-winning director Kenny Leon will stage both the television production and Broadway revival in collaboration with Tony winner Harvey Fierstein, who will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown.

In January, NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt announced at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that the network had secured rights to The Wiz — despite having previously announced its intent to produce The Music Man as its followup to Peter Pan. At the time, he did not close the door on proceeding with either musical.

Peter Pan Live‘s 9.1 million total viewers and 2.3 demo rating last December were down 50 percent from Sound of Music Live!‘s fast nationals in 2013, but it still gave NBC its second highest-rated non-sports Thursday in three years and its second most-watched one in more than five years.

Casting for both the NBC telecast and Cirque du Soleil’s Broadway production of The Wiz will be announced at a later date.

As with NBC’s previous musical picks, The Wiz not only had Broadway runs (in the mid-70s and again in 1984), but also spawned a big screen adaptation — starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson — in 1978. It is adapted from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

“We love this yearly tradition and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” added Greenblatt, in a release. “Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love.”

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57 Comments
  1. David says:

    Their choices just keep getting worse and worse. Why not do something more contemporary?

    • James says:

      The Wiz was actually contemporary for its time. Although they’re either gonna adapt it to present-times or kep it 1970’s/80’s-esque.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Yuk–I’ll pass.

  3. Jasonbres says:

    They’re probably gonna cast either Willow Smith or Quvzivazazoozazeeva or whatever her name is as Dorothy.

  4. Et al says:

    Some casting announcements have also been made. The Wiz will be played by Terrence Howard. Jussie Smollett will play Scarecrow. Trai Byers will portray the Cowardly Lyon. Bryshere Gray is the Tin Man. Taraji P. Henson is the wicked witch and Allison Williams is Dorothy.

  5. Stephon J.S says:

    Yay!

  6. Julia says:

    I am looking forward to this. There is great music in this one as opposed to Peter Pan. I’m surprised by all the hate!

    • Jon says:

      Same here. I thought this was a great choice! However, they need to follow the lead of the original Broadway show and use a teen girl as Dorothy. Maybe Zendaya as Dorothy, Jennifer Hudson as the Wicked Witch and Bruno Mars as the Scarecrow…

  7. cccloc says:

    I called this. I wrote at deadline com that they should do the WIZ because it had an all black / or multi-racial cast.
    Now — they should cast Jennifer Hudson as the Good Witch. Usher as Strawman and Pitbull as the lion.

  8. B says:

    Please go with talent over “name.”

  9. AnnieM says:

    Hmm….I vote for Kat Graham as Dorothy.

  10. Don’t know the actresses name but she was cast in the final season of Glee….the girl who wanted to be a Warbler but ended up in the New Directions, she would be a good choice for Dorothy really liked her singing.

  11. Gail says:

    There have been enough versions of the Music Man so between the two choices , The Wiz is a much better choice. The movie version of the Wiz was so different from Broadway original, which also makes the Wiz a good choice.

    • Daya says:

      I’ve seen eleventy-billion versions of Music Man and I’ve never seen The Wiz, so I’ll second you on that one.

      • Jack says:

        I know of only two movie versions of the Music Man. What are the other eleventy-billion ones that you are referring to?

        • Daya says:

          The stage versions I’ve seen. I’ve never looked for a list, but I’m willing to believe it’s one of the most played shows of all time (at the amateur level, I mean.) Everyone does it.

  12. Amanda says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! However, my hope is that they get someone in their teens to play Dorothy! Saw the video with Stephanie Mills playing Dorothy and it was a shame they didn’t let her to the movie! Though I like Usher, I think Chris Brown would make a better Scarecrow! Kevin Hart for the Wiz! But with my luck, they’ll probably get Nick Cannon!

  13. CK says:

    I have a soft spot for the Wiz so barring a Jennifer Hudson as Dorothy casting, I’ll watch this…with a bottle of wine to be safe.

  14. worthymagic says:

    I see some people have already responded. Musicals aren’t my thing, so this really doesn’t matter. Hearing that NBC is re-signing its stars from their dramas(like EVERYBODY on Law & Order SVU) DOES MATTER, and there hasn’t been ANYTHING about that. When it comes to priorities, NBC is LOST IN SPACE!

  15. SLS says:

    Love the idea of The Wiz, hate the Cirque du Soleil “spin.”

  16. David4 says:

    I just can’t stop thinking about the Sienfeld episode were the guy goes “I’m the Wiz and no one beats me!”.

  17. Drew says:

    I will be passing. I thought that this would ve a great tradition, bringing classic plays to TV each year, but The Wiz doesn’t count as a classic play. It is just a cheap knockoff of something better. I was looking forward to The Music Man and this is just a disappointment. I don’t get the logic. And this right after the failure of Peter Pan, driven by horrible casting and pulling strings for family members to get parts. They need a better team to produce these things. The Sound of Music was fun and solid entertainment. I was hoping for a great new tradition after that… This kinds sucks.

  18. Temperance says:

    Thank goodness. I’m really happy that NBC is doing this, but I don’t think we need another version of Music Man – ever. The Wiz is a much better choice.

  19. KC says:

    Fail!!!
    No thanks!!

  20. Grey says:

    Now this one I might watch especially if it’s got a good hip-hop vive to it *and* the right casting to go with.

  21. Kennith Perry says:

    Peter Pan sucked and I don’t have much hopes for the Wiz. I was hoping for Oliver!

  22. Anna says:

    Like! Can’t wait to see who they cast.

  23. mirvin365 says:

    Keke Palmer as Dorothy please! Bruno Mars as Scarecrow. Jesse L Martin as the Wizard.

  24. Jennifer says:

    Poor choice. ANYTHING would have been better than The Wiz. Like someone stated earlier, this is a bad copy of a classic show. Wicked would have been a better choice. If you want to stick with the classics, do Carousel or the King & I. not this knock off bad Wizard of Oz. there’s a reason the Wiz is NEVER on TV.

  25. Rocky says:

    Monica Brown the singer should definitely play the Good Witch…don’t see anyone else playing that role…

  26. LoveTheWiz says:

    So happy they are bringing back the Wiz. Alot of our children and grandchildren never seen it and with Cirque du Soleil’s being involved its going to be specular I hope the star Fantasia or KeKe Palmer or another big name star for box office money makers. Looking forward to seeing it on television and seeing it on broadway READY FROM WASHINGTON DC

  27. Amoreena says:

    Sorry but I would rather watch Music Man.

  28. Nat says:

    Sound of Music was great. Peter Pan bad, starring no-talent daughter of the big liar. This will be even worse PC crap.