Oz in the News 12.3.15

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The Creators of ‘The Wiz Live!’ Speak  “I originally saw The Wizard of Oz, and for me it was the scenery, the grandeur, the excitement, the sets, the outfits, the choreography, the shoes. And that carried over to The Wiz for me. When I saw The Wiz initially, that was the same thing that struck me, is how amazing it is, how big everything was, how exciting, how much energy there was. As a musician, as a producer, I really gravitated towards the music and how incredible those songs were, how well they were written, how heartfelt they were, how they furthered the plot, how they furthered the story. And I couldn’t get enough of the music, all the way from the play to the film and now to what we’re doing. For me, it’s just a huge honor and thrill to be a part of something this amazing and special. Especially for me as a kid growing up and watching and seeing this play happen, it’s incredible for me to be part of it. It’s been an amazing journey because all of us as a creative team just get to keep layering on all the things that we love to create this world anew.”

Queen Latifah, Ne-Yo, and More Will Introduce a Contemporary Oz in NBC’s The Wiz Live!  Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft, Judy Garland’s daughters, weren’t allowed to watch The Wizard of Oz as young children. According to The Wiz Live! executive producer Craig Zadan, who grew up around the girls, their mother thought the movie was too terrifying. At the time, Zadan remembers wondering why his friends were so frightened — he only internalized the film’s cheerful aspects — and it wasn’t until watching the movie again later in life that he realized, “It is a really amazing story of scariness and joy.” But it was seeing The Wiz on Broadway, a 1975 retelling of the classic tale through the lens of the African-American experience, that Zadan recalls as a “life-changing” experience. “I thought that I had never seen a musical on Broadway that had the kind of joy and exuberance,” he recalls. “I remember thinking that it was unique and different from anything I had ever seen before.” With NBC’s The Wiz Live!, which Zadan is presenting along with his producing partner Neil Meron, he’ll be creating yet another exciting new version of this exuberant and slightly scary story.

‘The Wiz’ Goes Home  “The Wizard of Oz” was first broadcast on television 59 years ago, kicking off a string of (more or less) annual network TV showings of the classic 1939 movie musical. That initial playing came in the Tinkerbell-lit wake of NBC’s successful live renderings of the musical version of “Peter Pan.” Nearly 60 years later, the Yellow Brick Road winds almost full circle Thursday with a live TV performance of “The Wiz,” the 1975 Broadway reimagining of the film and L. Frank Baum’s books. “The Wiz Live!” is set to become part of a new annual tradition, following 2013’s “The Sound of Music Live!” and last year’s “Peter Pan Live!” as beloved musicals staged on NBC in early December.

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