20 items from 2015
Mere minutes into NBC’s broadcast of The Wiz Live! you could feel the Internet – or at least its nicer corners – breathe a huge sigh of relief. The network’s previous attempts at creating a classic for a new generation with The Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan Live! resulted mostly in deflated fodder for live-tweeters hoping to get their fifteen minutes. Against all odds, The Wiz Live! managed to shake the Hate-Watch label and put on a legitimately entertaining show. Thanks to solid casting, spotless performances, and a strong choice of source material, NBC finally found a way to make appointment television satisfying for families and musical theatre fans alike.
- Samantha White
Whipped cream is known to be sumptuous, but its taste might seem a tad bittersweet for NBC.
When the Peacock airs its much-anticipated live telecast of “The Wiz” this Thursday, it will also launch a video segment paid for by ConAgra Foods’ Reddi-wip whipped topping. In the vignette, students from the musical arts program at Excel Academy Public Charter School in Hyattsville, Md., will put on a performance inspired by the popular musical, and will take a crack at a ‘Wiz’ tune that appeared in the segment that precedes their appearance. ConAgra will gain some traction in a program, however, that had been dominated by Walmart for the past two years, and chances are likely the food marketer was able to secure the promotion for a better unit price than might have been available last year.
Madison Avenue is battling the costs of advertising in TV’s efforts to transform Broadway perennials into live spectaculars. »
- Brian Steinberg
It was in May when NBC announced an open casting call for the lead role of Dorothy in the network’s upcoming holiday special “The Wiz Live!,” set to air on Thursday, Dec. 3. Revealed last month, newcomer Shanice Williams was cast as Dorothy, beating out lots of competition - potentially the break of a lifetime for the actress/singer. Williams joins David Alan Grier, who will play the Cowardly Lion; Queen Latifah stars as the Wiz; Mary J. Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West; Stephanie Mills (who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production of “The Wiz”) will portray Auntie Em; Common will play the Bouncer, the gatekeeper of the entrance to Emerald City; Ne-Yo will play the Tin Man; and Elijah Kelley will play the Scarecrow in NBC's December production. “The Wiz Live!” is adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, »
- Tambay A. Obenson
NBC is rounding out the cast of “The Wiz Live!” with recording artists Common and Ne-Yo, and “Hairspray” star Elijah Kelley, the network announced Thursday at its Television Critics Assn. summer press tour presentation.
Kelley will play the Scarecrow, the first of the three friends to meet Dorothy (Shanice Williams). He’s always dreamed of having brains, never realizing that he’s the smartest of them all. The role marks a reunion between Kelley and his “Hairspray” co-star Queen Latifah. It will be the actor’s second collaboration with “Wiz” executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who also served as EPs on “Hairspray.”
Oscar and Grammy winner Common will play the Bouncer, the »
- Laura Prudom
NBC's upcoming musical event The Wiz Live! has added "Orange Is the New Black" star Uzo Aduba, and "Glee's" Amber Riley to its cast. The pair have signed up to play two of the Good Witches, the network announced Thursday. Aduba will play Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, while Riley will portray Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North. They join newcomer Shanice Williams, who has been cast as Dorothy; David Alan Grier, who will play the Cowardly Lion; Queen Latifah stars as the Wiz; Mary J. Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West; and Stephanie Mills (who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production of “The Wiz”) will portray Auntie Em in NBC's December production. “The Wiz Live!,” set to air on Thursday, Dec. 3. It is adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, with a book by William F. Brown, »
- Tambay A. Obenson
Aduba will play Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, who finally reveals the secret of the silver slippers to Dorothy and points her way home.
Riley will portray Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North. She is the sister of Glinda, Evillene and Evvamene, the other three witches of Oz. Addaperle points Dorothy to the Yellow Brick Road and her journey to Emerald City.
The pair joins Queen Latifah, who will play the Wiz; Mary J. Blige, who is set as the Wicked Witch of the West; David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion; original cast member Stephanie Mills, who will play Aunt Em; and Shanice Williams, who landed the lead role of Dorothy.
“We are so happy to welcome two actors we’ve admired and »
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
TB is reporting that The Theory Of Everything's Eddie Redmayne has been cast as L. Frank Baum in a biopic about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author titled Road To Oz. New Line and Flynn Picture Company are producing the planned film, which will recount the early days of Baum. With Redmayne set to star, the producers are apparently now on the hunt for a director for the project. Road To Oz was written by... Read More »
- Jesse Giroux
Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne ("The Theory of Everything," "Jupiter Ascending") will portray "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" author L. Frank Baum in a new biopic of the prolific children’s fantasy writer at New Line Cinema reports The Tracking Board.
Josh Golden penned the script for "Road to Oz" which centers on Baum's early life and the development of his hit 1900 novel - a book partly inspired by his sickly niece Dorothy. Baum led a colorful life including marrying feminist and suffragist Maud Gage Baum, along with working as a newspaper editor, store owner, poultry breeder and some forays on the stage.
Golden's screenplay has made numerous honors lists for spec scripts and was instrumental in his nomination for a prestigious Nicholl Fellowship from AMPAS. What tone the project will go for, or who will helm it, is unknown at this point. It follows in the wake of several Oscar-bait style »
- Garth Franklin
Oscar-winner will play novelist who tried his hand at poultry fancying and newspaper editing before inventing the fantasy land of wicked witches, munchkins and ruby slippers
The film, titled Road to Oz, is based on a much-hyped screenplay by newcomer Josh Golden that was bought by studio New Line last year. It centres on Baum’s early life and the development of his hit 1900 novel, originally titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was partly inspired by the author’s sickly niece Dorothy.
Redmayne recently won the starring role in Jk Rowling’s Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and will appear as the pioneering transgender artist Lili Elbe in the upcoming Tom Hooper period drama The Danish Girl. »
- Ben Child
NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” has found its Dorothy in newcomer Shanice Williams.
The 18-year-old, who was selected out of hundreds of applicants from a nationwide, open casting call, will join the titular Wiz Queen Latifah, Wicked Witch of the West Mary J. Blige and Cowardly Lion David Alan Grier in the live NBC show, it was announced Wednesday on “Today.”
Stephanie Mills, who starred as Dorothy in the original Broadway production of the African-American adaptation, has landed the part of Aunt Em.
The Wiz follows NBC’s live musical specials of “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan.” Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who were behind both of the aforementioned NBC productions, will exec produce “The Wiz Live. »
- Maane Khatchatourian
David Alan Grier has the courage to explore live TV.
The comedian and three-time Tony Award nominee has joined NBC’s production of “The Wiz Live!.” He’ll play the Cowardly Lion, the famously timid friend of the lost Dorothy who accompanies her down the Yellow Brick Road in the hopes that their journey will lead him to find some courage.
Grier broke out via Fox’s 1990s sketch show “In Living Color.” His TV credits also include “Crank Yankers” and “Happy Endings.” His stage credits include a co-starring role in the original Broadway production of “Dreamgirls” and his film credits include “A Soldier’s Story” with Howard E. Rollins and Denzel Washington and “Jumanji” with Robin Williams. He will soon appear on the NBC sitcom “The Carmichael Show,” which premieres Aug. 26.
- Whitney Friedlander
David Alan Grier is joining NBC’s upcoming holiday production of “The Wiz Live!,” set for Thursday, December. 3. Grier will play the Cowardly Lion who asks Dorothy if he can join her in her journey down the Yellow Brick Road, and asks the Wiz for some courage, which he is severely lacking. He joins the previously-cast Queen Latifah, Stephanie Mills and Mary J. Blige to the telecast. Queen Latifah stars as the Wiz, and Mary J. Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West. Stephanie Mills (who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production of “The Wiz”) will portray Auntie Em in NBC's December production. “The Wiz Live!” is adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, with a book by William F. Brown, and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. The production opened on Broadway in 1975 at the Majestic Theatre and won seven Tonys, »
- Tambay A. Obenson
The action follows twenty-year-old Dorothy Gale (Adria Arjona) and her K9 police dog who are transported via tornado to a mystical land of competing kingdoms, lethal warriors, dark magic and a bloody battle for supremacy.
Source: Deadline »
- Garth Franklin
Ever wondered what it would be like if you crossed The Avengers with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Well wonder no more, as YouTuber Darren Wallace has created a rather splended mashup between this year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz with a faux trailer for Avengers of Oz: Age of Tinman. Check it out here…
- Gary Collinson
Dorothy is definitely not in Kansas anymore. In fact, she may be in New York City.
NBC has announced details for its casting call for the role of Dorothy for its upcoming production of “The Wiz Live!” Casting directors are seeking a young African-American woman between 18 and 27 years old. She “must have an extraordinary voice that can tell a story, as well as be mature with a youthful energy.”
The casting call is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 6 at Telsey + Co. at 311 W. 43rd St. on the 10th floor in Midtown Manhattan. Candidates need to be prepared to sing “Home,” “Ease on Down the Road” and “Be a Lion” from the original Broadway production of “The Wiz.”
- Reece Ristau
Stephanie Mills is returning to Oz.
The Broadway star who originated the role of Dorothy in the musical adaptation of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is set to appear in NBC’s upcoming live broadcast of the play, it was announced at the network’s upfront presentation on Monday. She will play Auntie Em but will no doubt have plenty of advice for the new talent that NBC hopes to find to play its leading lady with the fancy footwear.
NBC announced in March that “The Wiz” would be its next live musical production. This one comes with a twist compared to NBC’s previous productions “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan” because it will be co-produced by Cirque du Soleil’s new stage theatrical division, which will also help adapt the show for the Broadway stage.
- Whitney Friedlander
The numbers are in and it turns out, MGM’s highly anticipated big screen adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a box office flop. Apparently most moviegoers weren’t really into the idea of a farm girl riding a tornado to an alternate world, stealing some dead woman’s shoes and frolicking down a yellow brick road arm in arm with a cowardly lion, tin man and scarecrow. After going through a handful of directors before landing Victor Fleming and then struggling through a number of production challenges including some serious injuries on set, The Wizard of Oz wound up running MGM a whopping $2.7 million tab, but then only went on to accumulate a total of $3 million during its theatrical run. Tack on distribution and various other costs, and that makes The Wizard of Oz a $1.1 million loss for the company. Clearly it’s »
- Perri Nemiroff
After having success with The Sound of Music and Peter Pan, NBC is moving ahead with another live musical event: The Wiz. The network will rework the 1975 Broadway hit that was inspired by L. Frank Baum's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Even more exciting? Cirque du Soleil will be involved this time. The live performance is scheduled for Dec. 3, and there are plans to bring the show to Broadway in 2016. Diana Ross and Michael Jackson starred in the Oscar-nominated movie version, which came out in 1978 and featured an entirely African-American cast. In case you're not familiar, here's the trailer! »
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.
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Tony-winning director Kenny Leon will »
NBC will ease on down the road for its next live musical television event: “The Wiz” will take centerstage Dec. 3, the net announced Monday.
“The Wiz” marks NBC’s third such production, following the success of “The Sound of Music Live!,” starring Carrie Underwood, and “Peter Pan Live!,” in which Allison Williams played the title character.
“The Wiz” will be co-produced by Cirque du Soleil’s new stage theatrical division. After the television event, the musical will make its Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season, also presented by Cirque du Soleil.
Casting for both projects has yet to be announced.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who exec produced NBC’s “Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan,” return as exec producers. Kenny Leon directs both the TV production and the Broadway revival, along with Harvey Fierstein, who will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown.
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
20 items from 2015
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