NBC making ‘The Wiz’ their next live musical

NBC -Has NBC decided to strip away the big bang from “The Music Man“? It certainly seems that way. After previously setting this as their next live musical, the network has decided instead to move forward with a live production of “The Wiz” for later this year. They will collaborate with Cirque du Soleil for the event, which will head to Broadway after it concludes its one-off airing on December 3.

In some ways, this move is both surprising and unsurprising. While “The Wizard of Oz” is an enormous property and that itself will entice viewers, we’ve never seen “The Wiz” and know few who have. We’ve seen “The Music Man” many times, but we’re not going to sit here and pretend that this is even remotely contemporary.

In a statement, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt explained the new collaboration, and the decision to make “The Wiz” the next big production:

“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 … It’s a natural next step for our live musical events, and we’re so pleased to be in business with this award-winning creative team and Scott Zeiger, president and managing director of Cirque du Soleil’s new theatrical division. 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.”

One of the main factors we think the network saw here was a chance to up the ante with acrobatics, and give family viewers the chance to see something that they haven’t before. “Peter Pan” drew significantly smaller ratings than “The Sound of Music Live,” which means that these productions may only have flash-in-the-pan appeal.

What do you think about the network’s decision? Share with a comment, and head over here to snag some other big TV updates on all we cover via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: NBC.)

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