NBC Wiz Live Casting

NBC's The Wiz Casts Queen Latifah as Wizard, Mary J. Blige as Wicked Witch

A Queen shall lord over Emerald City, in NBC’s The Wiz Live!

Queen Latifah, a Grammy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award winner (and two-time Emmy nominee), will portray the titular Wiz in the network’s next live production, which will air Thursday, Dec. 3.

Latifah’s casting marks a reunion for her and executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, for whom she worked in the movie musicals Chicago and Hairspray and the TV-movie Steel Magnolias.

Meanwhile, Grammy winner Mary J. Blige has been cast as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, who holds sway over the Winkies and the Winged Monkeys that do her bidding. Evillene captures Dorothy (not yet cast) and her friends to avenge the murder of her sister, Evvamean, and to get back the powerful silver slippers given to Dorothy by the Good Witch of the North.

EW.com first reported the above castings.

Stephanie Mills — who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production of The Wiz — was previously announced to portray Auntie Em in The Wiz Live! Additional casting news will be announced in the coming weeks.

Are you more likely to ease on down the road and watch The Wiz Live! with Latifah and Blige waiting for you?

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31 Comments
  1. Drew says:

    I really thought that NBC was creating a yearly family tradition when they did The Sound of Music Live. Then they dropped the ball with Peter Pan, with horrible casting and stupid CGI work.
    I have no interest in The Wiz, so I won’t bother watching. They should have chosen a classic play. The Music Man would have worked, or My Fair Lady… Something to get back on their feet after the horrors of Peter Pan.
    That tradition ended quickly. Maybe I will just watch the classic production of Sweeney Todd on DVD that night. :)

    • CK2 says:

      Um… how does putting on a production of The Wiz, a classic, mean they are dropping the ball on a yearly family tradition. Maybe you should broaden your horizons some.

      • Lizo says:

        Lol right? and then opting to watch Sweeny Todd instead? If there’s ever a musical that’s *not* family friendly it’s Sweeny Todd.

        • Drew says:

          The Sweeney Todd thing was obviously a joke. Chill. Though I should say that I don’t have small children in the house, so if I wanted to watch Sweeney Todd instead, it would probably just be a good time.

          • Matt says:

            Don’t see what’s wrong with the Wiz if done right. It’s a classic story. They should open the casting up to a more diverse group. That would create extra buzz. A Latino tinman or scarecrow perhaps. Cameo by Diana Ross, the Dorothy from the movie? Or Janet Jackson since her brother is no longer around

      • Drew says:

        My horizons are plenty broad. The Wiz just brings to mind bad 70’s music for me. For me, it isn’t so much a “classic” as it is a “golden oldie”… a pop hit from a specific era. That era being the 70’s. It’s not an decade that I really love.
        Maybe I am being too harsh. Maybe I’ll change my mind and give it a try. It would be hard to be as painful as last year. But after spending months leading us to believe that The Music Man was the next production, swapping it out to this left a bad taste in my mouth.

      • Jennifer says:

        In what universe is The Wiz a classic?

        • CK2 says:

          The one where it opened and recieved multiple Tony nominations in 1975 and has been adapted and revived multiple times since.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’m with you. Can’t stand The Wiz. Was looking forward to The Music Man. Oh well. Maybe I’ll sit home a watch a true classic – like South Pacific or Carousel.

      • CK2 says:

        “True classic”…. ok, new found words for a limited musical knowledge.

        • Jennifer says:

          I would put my knowledge about music, musical theatre and theatre in general up against anyone. My musical knowledge is not “limited.” And it only had1 revival for about 10 days in 1984

  2. Aha says:

    I feel that this will be more of a must watch event than Peter Pan, it certainly has more star power. I just want to know who Dorothy will be played by. Whether it be a complete unknown or not.

    • Hipper says:

      I doubt it’d be an unknown.

      If Keke Palmer wasn’t tied to FOX already, she’d be perfect for this. Or Quvenzhane Wallis, she makes sense for NBC as well if they don’t think she’s too young.

      • Aha says:

        I was thinking it would be a Disney kid like Zendaya or China Anne McClaine. A younger star with a young fanbase. Not sure if they have the talent for the singing parts thiugh.

  3. Lizo says:

    Well I’m 100% more interested in watching this now.

  4. MaRita Ballard says:

    Indeed I am…the WIZ is a classic and hoping NBC DOESN’T
    disappoint with the production. Would like to see innovative costuming as well and a few surprises with additional cast being selected.

  5. Joel says:

    I hope syeshss mercado gets cast in this!!

  6. Eric O says:

    Great casting thus far…anybody think Jordin Sparks for the Dorothy role? She’s clearly got the pipes and is only 25 and can play younger.

  7. Matt says:

    I think NBC learned from Carrie Underwood vs Allison Williams that star power (&their marketing potential) work to encourage sampling for these big productions… I wouldn’t be surprised to see a hip hop star take on role of tin man, scarecrow or cowardly lion (or even go counter and cast a female in one if those roles)

  8. Sam wood says:

    They could do an all female cast

  9. Courtney Ledbetter says:

    Can’t wait till it gets here

  10. Teazy says:

    That’s what’s up! I can’t wait to see my girl Mary J do her thing. The production/casting that NBC has for this classic has to be on point.

  11. Unknown says:

    Can’t wait to see this.

  12. Krista Yates says:

    I am looking forward to watching the Wizard of Oz – my entire household will be watching and will record on dvr; i love all the cast – Queen L and Mary J – it is a must see!!!

  13. Wendi Michelle says:

    I’m so super excited! hEY MARy &&&& Queen Latifah…u go girls

  14. tracy starkes says:

    Awesome cast and musical

  15. monique says:

    I couldn’t wait to see how this was going to be redone. I absolutely love it, my daughter who is 7 is having a blast watching it, updated music is great.. The wiz was my first play I seen as a child and still love the original..however change is good and this is working for us.

  16. T. J. says:

    I am lovin’ this!!!

  17. Celestine Wyre says:

    The Wiz is beautiful and I like what we can do when we put our all into something. The stars are amazing!! I would to see more of us (black) in plays.